“A people who ignore their history (culture) condemn themselves to not knowing the present”, Fynn and Fenning. How can you understand your position in the world, country when we have ignored the very thing that constitute our entirety, our identity. For our refusal to claim our true selves and better understand ourselves is what has caused the neglect of the Sissala people in Ghana for all these years even though we have provided great sons and daughters who served this nation and currently are the largest producer of maize etc to the food basket of Ghana. Our roads are death traps, the people are poor and the rest as usual are tales. Can we begin to imbibe in the younger generations what it means to come from these parts of our country. Can we ignite the pride, loyalty, high sense of patriotism that can go a long way to doing the right things and prevent any self centered individuals from taking advantage of us as a people. Our great history speaks for itself. Even during the time of the missionary educationists, we used to have “cultural activities” where every student participated and identified themselves with their culture and history. I do not think this is nonreligious and barbaric as we are made to believe. We see other parts of the world try establishing their identity even with History that is not theirs. This is shown in movies, books etc yet we do little. I will however be unfair if I do not acknowledge the works of institutions like the “Sissala Heritage Foundation”.
They have done a marvelous job so far and I encourage everyone to take interest in knowing who they are and identifying with them. The culture should also do a lot more to be welcoming to people who would want to know themselves. We can start with adopting Sissali names that reflects our socio-cultural, religious and philosophical perspectives. See Gariba, A. Chuemina (Sissala names and meanings) .This will not prevent us from being Muslims or Christians.
The way of life of a people in fashioning their way of thinking and empowering them can not be over emphasized. Education has always been fashioned based on our cultural dispensation and perspectives.
Thus, an understanding of our society can tell us the kind of expertise we require as a people in our society so that this idea of shortage of expertise in critical areas of our society can be reversed to prevent any particular expert from monopolizing prominent sectors such as the health sector etc. It will also inform us to encourage the lot of our youth to venture into agricultural related studies since the lot of our people predominantly are farmers.
Just to mention a few. There are several reasons why our ancestors passed a certain kind of knowledge to us which we see as barbaric today. We have been coyed to leave our ancestral knowledge. We never had high rate of thefts, adultery, fornication, disrespect of elders because we knew our culture and customs watched us and will punish us severely if we committed any of these crimes. Today, correcting a child in school makes you a criminal. What an irony. Like the kind of green foods that they ate which were also herbs and medicines. In as much as it’s important for us to seek advanced health care we must also acknowledge the extend to which basic knowledge of roots and herbs could help guard against simple ailments and even cure some ailments like malaria which is the world’s biggest killer disease. This is free knowledge that culture passes on. As the saying goes, ” there’s no shame in going back”. We must strive to re-learn this knowledge and cut down on the over dependence on foreign foods and medicines that even adds more complications to our health. Let’s encourage the wide patronage of our local dishes like dawadawa, ayoyo(Jute), aleifu, etc which are even more nutritious and medicinal and less expensive.
I am certain we are very familiar with the adage, “one person does not raise a child”. I am sad to say that the opposite unfortunately has become the case. Our ancestors in their infinite wisdom put knowledge in words so that we can be guide by them. Inculcating discipline was the responsibility of every adult or parent in the community. Thus, children were well brought up and trained. Today, even though we have striven to improve upon ways to discipline our children, we have neglected the very wisdom passed on to us. We have all sorts of rights and privileges. That is not to say it is bad, but we could have adopted what is good for us blending it with what we already have instead of doing away totally with what we know and swallowing what we did not know and totally understand hook, line and sinker. For when the foundation is weak, the house will eventually collapse. Thus, the level of rot, indiscipline we see everyday in our homes and society. Culture has always provided us with the blue prints that we can always update but we choose to neglect it calling it barbaric. Our culture created customs that kept us disciplined, from fornicating, stealing and robbery, etc today we see the direct opposite because we chose the White man’s way of life. Now we are told to allow basic school kids to take phones to school? What level of insanity is this?
Lastly, stone upon stone, brick by brick, a house is built. Together as one. That was the philosophy that our ancestors lived by. Communal living. We used this principle to get things done quickly, cheaply and unstressfully. Be it farm work, marriage, building a house for a new couple, etc. The “Gwollu slave defence Wall” which protected them against slavers. That is a towering symbol of communal unity and strength. It was the responsibility of everyone in the society. Thus, you will not sleep if your neighbor did not sleep. You will not eat if your neighbor did not eat. There were no poor people or orphaned children. What happened to these beautiful ideologies? Why have our people become so corrupt and selfish. Can you not see how our society is degenerating faster than we build?. Uncontrollable greed is manifest in every sphere of life. People are taking other people’s property by force regardless. Have we become so disheartened?. Do we have no feelings and conscious what so ever?. When our brothers and sisters die can we eat their flesh? Why this sudden mad rush for worldly possessions that we can not take with us ?. This is just a transition. Why is it so difficult for us to unite for a common cause. For once. Like Malcom X said, “When ‘I’ is replaced with ‘W’ even illness becomes wellness”
I shall leave it to my brethren to distill the contents of this write-up into dry theories or take it as a fertile land for which seeds of regeneration, development and growth can be sowed.
We must learn to un-learn all that foreign knowledge and re-learn again what knowledge is ours and do away with what is barbaric and add what is good for us.
One thought on “Sissala culture: An instrument of self identity and patriotism”
I love the way things went God bless Ghana.