Happy Halloween to everyone marking what should be a fun evening. This post however is to question and ponder why Africans are increasingly and voluntarily embracing this tradition and celebration, and what it seems to say about us. By this I mean Africans living in Africa. Those in the West should join the crowd as I suppose this is part of integration.
My bone of contention is not with Halloween as such, but the way we are so eager to proudly adopt foreign traditions while at the same time discarding and condemning ours as fetish and even devilish.
I was deeply disappointed when I visited home recently to learn that masquerades no longer parade the streets on special occasions as they are considered to be of the evil spirit and hence been driven off by the new rise of Pentecostalism. Yet, same people will not see anything wrong with their children and even adults going to mask parties or doing treat or trick. Somehow, people have decided it is cool to be associated with Halloween but not with New Yam Festival for example.
Is there any reason why we have not been able to globalize our festivals/celebrations just the Indians have done with Diwali and the Chinese with their New Year?
Some would argue it has to the with the presumed superiority of some deities , and the fact the first missionaries convinced Africans that everything about their way of life was devilish. But you see, the Romans were clever: when they accepted Christianity, the romanised it. They turned their own celebrations such as Winter Solstice and Equinox into Christian celebration Christmas and Easter and continued with it. They made their language, Latin, the language of the church. The head of the church, the Pope started dressing as a Roman Emperor. They even decided that the Jewish traditions such as circumcision and dietary rules were not relevant to them and discarded them. In Africa, we seem to be doing the exact opposite.
The same goes with pilgrimages to “holy sites”. Our governments waste huge amount of resources sponsoring people to pilgrimages to Mecca and Israel when there are other obvious priorities. Where are Africa’s holy sites? Even if we stick with Christianity: Can we not find a “holy site” dedicated to one of the Wise men, said to be African, who brought presents to Jesus? What about a place for the Ethiopian Enoch who accepted Christianity before it reached Europe? You see, the Europeans have created such sites easily e.g, Vatican, Lourdes, Fatima and created stories around them thereby attracting thousands of tourists yearly.
We have so much in our history and culture to memorialize and show the world. What about a befitting world class memorial to victims of slavery, colonization, and the various battles and wars? What about at least not destroying the festivals and celebrations we do have. We really have so much to learn from the Romans.