In the name of culture


Respectable Republicans, are we not regrettably passing some unhelpful cultures from one generation to the other?

Inside the week, I attended a funeral in the outskirts of the Capital City. A long-time friend was burying an aunt.

The deceased’s house being a few metres away from a busy road, traffic kept darting past for the entire period I was there — minibuses, trucks, motorbikes and tricycles.     

All was still well until a group of boys attending the funeral spotted a man cycle past. Like greyhounds, the boys headed for the cyclist and harassed him for disrespecting the area’s ‘long standing’ culture.

‘Ungamakwere njinga n’kumadutsa pasiwa zoona [how dare you cycle past a house of mourning]?

The boys harangued the man in a way I would say is well away from anything positive about a culture.

The ‘reasoning,’ for such ranting, I gathered, is that from time immemorial it was enshrined in the pages of our hearts a cyclist must never remain on the saddle as he passes through serious gatherings that include meetings called by chiefs.

The ranting army said a cyclist can ‘easily’ jump off his saddle and push his bicycle along, unlike those using motorised engines.

I dared ask why and many reasons flew about.

‘Njinga yakapalasa njoyendera magazi — ukhoza kumakankha mosavuta,’ one boy shouted.

I found the reasoning hard to take. After all, the bigger nuisance on the day had been the motorists whose engines whined well above the preacher’s voices.

For all the time I was there, tricycles, with a ding of their irritating engines, polluted the air the most.

This cyclist was just a victim of age old iron traditions, I concluded.

I watched as the boys confiscated his bicycle, telling him he had to pay a K1000 fine or chop firewood for the funeral’s cooking needs as punishment for the ‘serious crime’ he had committed.

He tried his best to explain he was just doing his best transporting his expectant wife to prenatal clinic – ku sikelo!

It all fell on deaf ears and I didn’t like the sight of his heavily pregnant wife looking so terrified.

My fellow democrats, I have always thought we can do better by revisiting some old age ‘discriminatory’ traditions.

Just like with the rogue and vagabond law (recently quashed), some of our cultural aspects are oppressive and selective.

Just like in this case of the man and his pregnant wife, some societies fail to apply exceptions to the social ‘laws.’ In time such as these, I bet the best is to do away with such ‘laws.’ n


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