It is increasingly difficult to teach our children about our roots as we become more developed or modern as a Nation. We start to lose out on some of the traditions that form the essence of who we are as a people. It is interesting that God created us in different Nations and people for a reason. In the diversity of our cultures and roots, we create a master-piece for our maker.
So, how do we ensure that while being modern we do not loose out on our roots, culture, and history?
I have a few ideas…..
Communicate with your children in your native language.
This can be hard sometimes when even some parents still struggle with speaking their language themselves. It can be especially tough when inter-tribal marriages occur. We must find a middle ground. Mothers spend more time with their children and children in turn naturally, tend to pick up their mother tongue. For the inter-tribal marriage and home rather than have the children speak neither, at least have them learn and speak at least one native language. So, speak to them in your native dialect, start early and you will find out that as you continue, your children will pick up the language and become proficient in no time.
Help them understand what their culture is about.
Use every opportunity you can to tell your children what their culture is about. It can be simple as beginning with telling them what their names mean. I encourage parents to name their children native names. This helps in reminding them of their identity no matter where they find themselves. I make it a point of duty to tell them what their names mean and how important they are. Also introduce other aspects of your culture like modes of greeting, ways of addressing adults, cultural heritage and our mode of dressing. The more our children understand what our culture is about, the easier it is to understand their roots.
Teach them about History
Is it not funny that our children know more about the history of other Nations than they know about theirs? Our country is one with a rich heritage. Different tribes have different heroes and different battles that were fought to preserve their people. Nigeria as a whole has been blessed with such a strong history of great men and women who gave their lives to fight for our Independence. Teach your children about their history to give them a sense of pride in where they come from.
Teach them to eat and prepare traditional food
Food is another enticing way to teach a child about his culture. Cooking traditional meals, educating a child on why it is important to always have a meal and even teaching them to prepare the local delicacies goes a long way. When I have been out of the Country for a while, I always looking forward to a spicy native meal like amala and egusi soup. Do not let them get used to only pasta and pizza. They can also follow several of the foodies who know how to turn our local dishes into international standard meals. [Read: recipes]
Surround them with family
Yoruba people say that people are our covering. That couldn’t be more accuarte. In the times that matter most, what you need is the people that you call your family. It is interesting that when I speak to my mum, I speak Yoruba more and I am more aware of my roots. It’s the same way for our children. Surround them with family; grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins and loved ones. Take them with you when you can to visit their grandparents regularly. Let them attend family occasions with you where there is a strong sense of culture and belonging. This will go a long way in strengthening their roots.
There are a lot more we can do but I’m sure if we start with these five, we would have made tremendous progress.
Contributed by Sola Agudah