Opinions Sun, 27 Oct 2013

The extended family

Okechuku, a young college undergraduate bubbling with unwavering optimism was able to participate in the Youth Dialogue Conference in Ghana. His unflinching desire and dream of making it to the conference materialized courtesy of his benevolent uncle who had the financial muscles to assist him.

Ayeboa from Togo completed her diploma course in Arusha, Tanzania through the immense efforts and contributions of his maternal aunt, uncle and cousins cum the meager efforts of his biological parents who had been incapacitated by various degrees of ailments and ill-will. Their sole source of income was their farming portion of the great Onyina Forest which was bequeathed to them by their fore parents generationally.

When Adjo, a beautiful and brilliant Ewe girl lost both parents in a motor accident, the arduous and onerous onus of her upbringing fell on her parents’ relatives, thus far as a trained teacher did she get, a feat she would never have reached but for her extended family’s intervention.

They said we were barbaric, a people without history, at worst the Dark Continent. They even told us Mungo Park discovered the Niger River, however our folklore clearly establishes the poignant and glaring fact that, our proud, bold and brave fore fathers, grandparents, uncles, and siblings fished in the river long before the advent of the Whiteman.

The “abusa” system in Ghana is a vivid manifestation of how we helped each other in our community. A group of two, three, or more helped cultivate a member’s or members’ farm and in reciprocity they did same respectively. Strength in numbers they say, depicted proverbially by the might of the broom.

In Accra, Arusha, Abuja, Dakar, Lome, Kigali, Yamoussoukro and the rest of Africa, we know, understand and love peace. We are not war mongers like they portray us to be .We coexisted amicably together prior to their influx mostly without any brouhaha. The “villagisation project” of Julius Nyerere stands tall. Who said our diverse ethnic groups and extended family structure is our bane?

Irrespective of the bickering and quarrelling that is birthed intermittently in our extended family system, we surge and thrive on.

They do not know more about us than ourselves, here in our proud continent, when an individual marries; he not only goes solo but rather involves the whole extended family. It is therefore said that marriage is between families. We love and cherish profoundly the values that hold us in tandem, our strong ties that bind. It is found in the way we treat strangers in our land, our unrivalled loyalty and respect for elders and authority. Our willingness to contribute our quota in communal gatherings, our commitment to the preservation of our rich values and cultural heritage and gross distaste for thievery and wrong doing which comes with its own societal punishment and bashings.

In our villages and communities we share and live communally. We find our individuality in the roles we play communally.

Our extended family play an enormous role in our personal development owing to the proverb that it takes a whole village to raise a child and the creeping planting sees sunshine courtesy of the tree.

We cannot adhere to the ever strictest dictates and tenets of “obroni’s” nuclear family system because we are and will forever be the unique people of Africa. A royal people, a people set apart, a chosen continent blessed with not only enviable natural resources but our rich and resplendent culture. We are proud to be Africans. Long live Africans.

Michael Dale-Asiedu


Columnist: Dale-Asiedu, Michael