File:Paramount Chief Chitimukulu and Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda

By Henry Kanyanta Sosala


Consequences of Cultural Genocide

Culture which I like to refer to within the current African context as “the effort to try to find one’s real self.’” It has been rightly said, ‘’Anyone who has a quarrel with the past, loses the present and risks to lose the future as well.’’ It has also been said that a motorist who does not use his/her mirror to look behind will one day make a fatal accident. Life involves our growing upwards and downwards like a tree, which is able to stretch out its branches to the sky because it also sends its roots into the nourishing earth. Man or tree with no proper roots will fall.

Scientific truths were made explicit a mere five hundred years ago, and mostly with the works of Francis Bacon, Rene Descartes, Isaac Newton etc., in whatever manner our ancestors viewed the world prior to that, it was not through scientific lens. And because we are now so scientific, it is very difficult for us to understand that other ways of seeing things do exist. In fact great myths and religious stories were mostly moral in their content, rather than descriptive. Thus, they did not concern themselves with what the world was, as a scientist might have it, but with how a human being should act. Those who lived during the distant times in which the foundational epics of our culture emerged were much more concerned with the actions that dictated survival and with interpreting the world in a manner commensurate with that goal than with anything approximating what we now understand as objective truth. But before the dawn of the scientific worldview, reality was construed differently. Being was understood as something more akin to story or drama. That story or drama was lived, subjective experience, as it manifested itself moment to moment in the consciousness of every living person. It is such things experienced personally that are more fundamental elements of human life from the archaic, dramatic perspective, and they are not easily reducible to the detached and objective even to the modern reductionist and materialist mind.

Reverend James Earl Massey wrote: ‘’There is something to be said for human groupings. There are strengths in common tradition and a common culture, which make a people one culture. Each group has ‘intelligible actions’ which grow out of its own tradition and those meanings have an inner significance from which strength for life can be derived. Each human grouping has had distinctive not available elsewhere in just the same way. All human groupings have distinctive that they should preserve, distinctive which give meaning to the group as its members review their ‘story’ in the drama of life.’’ (Emphasis mine). And it is therefore within our cultures wherein lie the solutions that can help us to effectively fight the challenges of early marriages etc.

The idea that different societies had different rules and morals was known to the ancient world too. Aristotle argued that though specific rules, laws and customs differed from place to place, what does not differ is that in all places human beings, by their nature, have a proclivity to make rules, laws and customs. He concluded that all human beings, by some kind of biological endowment, so ineradicably concerned with morality that they create a structure of laws and rules wherever they are. Aristotle concluded: ’’That human life can be free of moral concerns is a fantasy.’’

It is, however, interesting to compare this realization with the white man’s response towards African culture. European ‘’superiority’’ during colonization was seen as absolute, quite unself-consciously, without any sense of shame or guilty. The rationale was that what Europe had to offer was regarded without question as being better than anything it replaced. And in this respect, the Church too, was a child of the times and therefore the colonizers as well as the missionaries were unable to conceive that foreign peoples could live in a cultural civilization that was different from theirs. In other words, there was only one perfect culture, naturally, Western culture, while all other ways of thinking and living had to be guided by this one superior model.

Many years ago, as a student of deviant political behaviour, I was determined to find out how South African churches wrestled with their conscience to justify religious apartheid. In the South African Hansard of May 1959, I found a statement of how a Honourable Member in the South African Parliament played with words: ‘’When reference is made to God the Father or to the Brotherhood of man or to unity in Christ, it is meant in a spiritual sense. The spiritual sense has nothing to do with being together in a physical sense in specified buildings. It does not mean that people can only have a unity in Christ if they worship together in the same room or in the same church building.’’

Indeed every tribe had its own indigenous form of purposeful education. And as defined in the natural and broadcast sense, education encompasses a conscious attempt to help people live in their society and to participate fully and effectively in its organization in order to ensure its continued existence. The curriculum of indigenous African education is the whole culture – the whole life of the society. Life is education and education is life, as sanctioned by society.

In fact to learn in traditional societies was to become an active participant in the everyday activities of one’s community. The emphasis was on the acquisition of the common domain of knowledge. One of its greatest values, from the point of view of learning, lay in being able to bring individuals face to face with the realities of the social and physical necessities of life. The emphasis was on the acquisition of the common domain of knowledge. In short: school was society and society was school. Such an education was achieved through a variety of realistic pedagogical situations, whether the goal was to master family hereditary skills and knowledge (as in the case of herbal medicine) or that of a highly skilled trade (as in the case of blacksmithing) or perhaps that of training for leadership (usually involving young men of the royal families). Here it was well noted in traditional education that man does not develop himself in a vacuum, in isolation from his society and his environment; and he certainly cannot be developed by others. Man’s consciousness is developed in the process of doing things.

And to let you clearly understand what follows, let me quote Lord Macaulay’s speech to the British Parliament on 2nd February, 1835: ‘’I have travelled across the length and breadth of Africa and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such caliber, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage and therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, if the Africans think that all that is foreign is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native culture and they will become what we want, a truly dominated nation.’’

I think I have to make something very clear from Lord Macaulay’s statement to which many people can be skeptical: ‘’I have travelled across the length and breadth of Africa and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values…..’’ And to the contrary, Africa today a continent of beggars! And is Africa free of thieves?

Begging and thefts were minimized during the ancient times because the extended family system constitutes a social security scheme which has the advantage of following the natural pattern of personal relationships rather the current nucleus or exclusive family system which confines relationships only to the immediate family members. However, the inclusiveness of the traditional society does not restrict the title ‘’father’’ to my male parent. I can also address my father’s brothers as ‘’father.’’ And I can call my mother’s sisters ‘’mother’’ also. And only my father’s sisters would I address as ‘’aunt’’ and my mother’s brothers as ‘’uncle.’’ My ‘’brothers’’ would include not only the male children of my father but also certain cousins.

These are not just courtesy titles and with the title ’’father’’ goes all the responsibility of parenthood and in return all my ‘’fathers’’ receive my filial devotion. And hence no child in a traditional society can be orphaned. And should his literal parents die, other ‘’fathers and mothers’’ immediately resume the responsibility for the upbringing of such children. By the same token, no old person is likely to end his days outside the family circle. If his own offsprings cannot take care of him, then the other ‘’children’’ will accept the duty and responsibility.

Why did Lord Macaulay insist on destroying our cultures? This is because culture can be seen as a wide-ranging, comprehensive and multi-dimensional reality. It embraces everything that man makes use of. And in this respect, Barel wrote: ‘’One manages capital in order to increase it; one manages cultural heritage in order to pass it on, since it influences not only the economy, but a larger area which includes family, politics, social consensus and conflict.’’

Sishuwa Sishuwa in a paper: Chinese Confucius Institute and the Cultural War in Africa wrote: ‘’Culture is the invisible thread that ties people together or separates them…….. the effectiveness control of the world; that is to truly control a people, one must influence the cultural habits, language and belief system of a people _____ that is why they have established Alliance Francaise, British Council, American Cultural Centre etc. All imperialisms recognize that it must empty Africans of their independent human essence if it is to thrive and defeat existing patterns of social practices that inform the locals’ knowledge and understanding of the world; how they engage in that environment and how they re-create and interact with it through customs, moral norms, laws, beliefs, art or other forms of cultural expressions.’’

Maurice Makumba wrote in his book Introduction to African Philosophy: ‘’Anyone will admit that political and social life must be in spired by a culture and unless that culture is solidly grounded in the heart of any given people, the quest for a responsible political system is just a mirage. This is because a political system is supposed to respond to the needs and values of society, but when those needs and values risk to hang between two cultures, the resultant political structure will attempt to respond to both ways and only cause more disintegration. African political philosophy should take a more positive approach to the contemporary situation and turn what appears like a culture clash into a bleeding ground for a double-edged political philosophy; one that seeks a dynamic cultural retrieval that is, integrating traditional values with the exploits of modern man and woman in the realm of human freedom and development. We need seasoned African values for such a venture.’’

It is unfortunate that many educated Africans think they become more civilized by dismissing thousands of years of wisdom as mere superstition and ignoring our greatest moral achievements, better, however, to integrate the best of what we are now learning. They wrongly believe that their cultural heritage is derived from their education and conscious approximation to the western living standards. Indeed, education may appear to be the master-key capable of opening many doors in every area of life and hence the African intellectual regards his accumulated book knowledge as a universal pass-key. But why has his education absolutely and completely failed to decipher the current problem of early marriages, for instance! What is the value of education that is even incapable of dealing with our indigenous challenges?

But unfortunately 180 years later (i.e. 1832-2012), after Lord Macaulay’s statement,          cultural genocide was endorsed in the foreign-drafted useless Constitution which I had strongly opposed and I was only supported by Professor Muna Ndulo, a US-based constitution lawyer. And according to the Report of the Technical Committee on Drafting the Zambian Constitution: ‘’Part V on Bill of Rights, Article 63: Language and Culture states in 63 (3): A person shall not be compelled to- (a) perform, observe, participate in, or be subjected to, any cultural practice or rite; or (b) form, join, contribute, maintain or pay allegiance to any cultural, traditional or linguistic association, organization, institution or entity.’’

It is general knowledge that no one forces anybody to do what have been stated above i.e., who goes overseas to force the tourists who flock to watch The Kuomboka ceremony? The question is the motive behind the inclusion of such in the Constitution which is actually in line with Lord Macaulay’s proposal and chiefs should carefully and particularly note: ‘’….NOT to maintain or pay allegiance to any cultural, traditional or linguistic institution..’’

Let me digress to question our intellectuals, if ever the African culture is useless, what then prompted Lord Macaulay to issue the above quoted warning in the British Parliament in 1832? In fact, it means they are merely hobbling themselves by pretending to be something they are not. It is a mask, but a strange one, for it mostly deceives the one wearing it. On the other hand, a British social worker, Tarq Modood working among immigrants said: ‘’Equality is not having to hide or apologize for one’s origins, family or community, but to expect others to respect them and adapt public attitudes and arrangements so that the heritage they represent is encouraged, rather than contemptuously expected to wither away.’’ (Newsweek 15th December 1997).

Dr. Kaunda has a penetrating insight: ‘’It is primarily through the evolution of a genuine culture that a people discover their identity which many of the people would regard as irrelevant to national development. Universities, too, tend to be strictly utilitarian in scope, turning out a stream of the technical, professional and scientific people required in the central areas of national building. Yet the nation which lacks a firm cultural substructure is jerry-built and though the people have title deeds to the property and the key to the front door in their pockets, they are still homeless.’’

The lack of cultural heritage has created great problems in the life of an educated African since culture embraces everything that man makes use of. The Law of Generation states: “We are all linked to previous generations behind us. Our ancestors are in our genes, in our bones, in our marrow, in our physiological and emotional make-up. We, in turn, will be written into the children who come after us.’’ And therefore the immutable truth is that cultural heritage cannot be magicked away. It will live for many a day and be a continual source of weariness and frustration. It is something that can be blocked and thwarted, but cannot be got rid off. Even the western aristocratic education can never drown cultural heritage, because while logic can convince one’s reasoning, it cannot, however, overcome the inertia of dualistic thinking. Intellect may comprehend the oneness of things, but thinking will still continue in dualism

Culture deals with clear understanding of SELF which is intertwined with identity and a sense of self-esteem. Though cultural identity is not fixed, but nevertheless it springs from factual and historical formations. It is therefore essential that our cultural heritage awakens us to a new level of consciousness that makes available to us ‘’new power’’ containing information value to re-mould our minds and re-direct our lives within and without this information emerging through the lens of consciousness to light our way, we tend to become ‘’hung up’’ with anything or anyone supposes to help us. In this scenario, what lacks is not intellect or artificial accumulated book knowledge per se, but understanding of SELF or the ability to relate to one’s whole being to the rest of the universe.

However, the unavoidable, but a sad reality is that when we abandon our cultural heritage for other ‘’civilized cultures,’’ we destroy our own life-foundation and we immediately split our personality which leads to schizophrenia and this destroys our potential for creativity. We can however, effectively parrot occidental ideas, but we, in fact, totally lack enterprising intellectualism and are always controlled by outside pressures. This is why many of our playboy intellectuals today who are automated like machines are diligent but not creative.


[Read 2,126 times, 1 reads today]


  1. One thing i find quite irritating about traditionists is the assumption that culture must not evolve. This assumption is *****ic. To hold to a fixed culture while ignoring the advances in knowledge and philisophy is retrogressive. Its a sickness that desires to live un the past without adapting to the present. If the romans had thus kind of mentality, they would have never built the mighty roman empire which dominated the western words for centuries. But the learned from the wisdom of the greek philosophers and built a mighty empire. If the UK in the middle ages had not embraced tge culture of the romans, normans and the anglo saxons they would probably still be as backward as we are. This nonsence of wanting to perpepuate dead customs is an attempt by traditionists to hold on to some…


    • i have said before and say again that traditional leaders are a curse on africa. They existed to be served by their subjects and not to serve the subjects. This clear in the way they are innaccessible to the average person. And you have to knell and say alot of untrue nonsense when addressing them. I ask, who is it that sold our brothers as slaves? Who signed away our land and mineral rights to colonialists? Its our traditional leaders. They where greedy and wanted small trinckets from slave traders and so where willing to sell their own people or surrounding tribes for selfish gains. Until Mr. Sosala and other chiefs admit to this and apologize publicly, they really have no right to lecture us. Their hands are stained with the blood of our brothers. Thank God we are no longer ruled by…


    • Mr Sosala, it is forces like you that impede cultural advancement by insisting on the old ways which do not work in a new world. This is why africa remains backward. When Carpenicus first suggested that the world was round, he was persecuted because people had built cultural practices based on Ptolemeys claims that it was flat. They feared that they would lose their hold over people and so they rejected all changes because it was going to invalidate their cultural customs. This is the kind of mindset you see in traditionists like Mr Sosala. Thankfully he and others like him have no governing power, or else alot of people would have been imprisoned or executed for refuting obsolete cultural beliefs. Thank God for the liberating power of knowledge that coincided with the ending of the rule…


    • In truth the only captive mind i see here is Mr Sosala. He is captive to the past. A past that will NEVER return. The time of all-powerful all-wise traditional leaders is gone sir. We have not rejected our past. We have learned from it and we have moved on from it. Never again will we entrust suprem power to one man, so that if he wakes up on the wrong side of the bed he can decide to kill you. Or if he doesnt like how you look, he can have your toes cut off or your eyes cut off. If you dont get on board you will remain trapped in the past.


    • It’s wrong month to bring up these ghost encounters.
      There is:
      – mines closing
      – Ravin power drink pull-him-down
      – national dialogue, for no reason.


  2. Really a bit of a jumbled up discourse Great Chief. I failed to follow your train of thought, even when trying to read between the lines. It would help your readers a great deal if your original thoughts on the subject matter can come through, informed as they might be, by other thinkers / writers. Reduce on “Macauly said this, Makumba says this and Sishuwa thinks that…” Coalesce these thinks and thoughts into a Sosala Discourse.


  3. Some pipo really have time to waste. All this stuff on such a non issue. Is it to show their level of education or what.


  4. Since the advent of the new kacha as defined by the MMD, there has been a radical shift. If someone approached you with goodies and requested you to choose them as your leader, such goodies were rejected together with the person, but alas! nowadays the most corrupt gets the most votes. People aren’t ashamed to sell their votes to chibuku and chitenge. Women now display their nakedness to strangers, we’re lost as a nation.


  5. My chief is putting down fundamental knowledge which is evidently too deep for superficial, erratic minds to comprehend.

    In the times of Face-book and Insta-gramm and Whats.apps, it becomes sheer stress for certain minds to analyze profound issues like these. Traditional values and culture have always been the key in mastering our existence as Africans throughout history. If slavery, colonialism or economic oppression have all failed to ouwit us, then only because of our mystical roots. the cultural bond and spiritual oneness that keep us closely knit together in any kind of weather.


  6. So, what is the basic issue is Chief Chitimukulu labouring on? What is he focusing on, with a plethora of quotations from various sources. Cultural values as driver for diligent management of our nation. Perhaps to champion the status quo of traditional rule?. Chief Chitimukulu was almost dethroned by the PF government in preference of another chief to ascend as paramount chief in Northern province.


  7. The only culture and tradition Zambian Chiefs need to know is the attainment of knowledge required for the country to develop. This means we need to learn the process of how to take copper out of our own soil and use the proceeds to benefit us. The riches go first to those who KNOW THE PROCESSES. The processes include turning copper rock into copper metal, how to use tools to farm efficiently, hown to design and make those tools and other product for our own use. Traditions which hinder the learning process should not be continued. Last but not least traditions must adapt and change. What westeners do are not traditions they ditched them many years ago. Asians have taken on learning the processes and are now colonising Africans and westeners.


  8. Thats exactly the point the chief is trying to project, that without an inherent cultural consciousness you cannot effectively mobilise available resources to advance indigenous culture because your destiny is in ruins


  9. Journeyman has a simplistic and one dimensional understanding of the author’s analysis of the Zambian cultural base.Evolution preserves the integrity of any given structure. When a snake sheds its skin its markings remain.




Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here