The ability to adhere to a doctrine or religion is the basis of traditionalism. Most especially beliefs that are related to traditional cultures. Often, it beats my imagination when I think about the concept called God. Is there a supernatural being called God? Am I practising traditionalism or am I just a plain traditionalist?
I wish I could get a hold of its beginning at a particular place. Seeking this concept brought me to where I am today. You might not agree with the outcome of this research. Keep an open mind, for it will be wrong to look at traditionalism from one angle. Every man/ race has a right to their beliefs. On this note, let us look at the confession.
Definition Of Traditionalism
We can define traditionalism as the adherence to traditional views or practices, especially regarding cultural or religious matters.
In my quest to seek the existence of God, I realize that in a land of diverse races, cultures and religions there are different ideas or beliefs about GOD/ gods. Some believe that their god is extraordinary, while others are barbaric. Others are of the opinion that their god is more superior and should be given preference. I dare say, however, no matter the beliefs each god has related to several cultures should be honoured.
And so I journeyed far and wide and came about this community called Ogume in Kwale. They make the community of seven villages and each village has a God they worship. Nice place to start my search, right? In Ogume they have…
List Of Villages
- Ogbago ogume.
- Umuchimu Ogume
- Ogbedogua Ogume
- Igbe Ogume
- Ogbole Ogume
- Ogbe Ogumu
- Utue Ogume
First, I ventured into Ogbe Ogume and I noticed gigantic snails all around. Oh, how I love peppered snails. So I bent down to help myself with some snails for fried stew and rice. As I was about to pick it, a voice from behind cried out, drop that thing. I stood still without turning back. Was he talking to me? Mindlessly, I continued. The voice came back again, this time a bit more aggressive. Can you hear me, or are you deaf? I said, drop that snail. I quickly dropped it and turned around to see who was talking.
Do you know this is my God? A snail! Interesting. Looking at you, I can tell you are not from here. So what do you want? The man asked. Am sorry, sir. I never knew you worshipped it, but if you don’t mind me asking, why do you worship a snail? It is just a snail, or does it have any special powers? Please tell me. Okay, follow me, he said.
Tales Of A Traditionalist
As you already know, there are several gods worshipped here by the different villages. Here, we worship the snail God. There are items used in preparing portions for the worship of the god. The list ranges from chicken, snail, kola, white chalk etc. Due to these rituals, some of these animals are forbidden to be eaten in any circumstance but should be venerated.
At some point, two or three of the communities practice and worship the same gods, and this is because of sturdy affairs created through marriage. The union between an Ogbe Ogume man and an Utue woman sees that anything the man forbids, the woman also forbids. You can never tell what you will find in the world of traditionalism.
People may see a snail as good seafood or an enormous source of protein. We see it as a source of power. To you, it is a must-have delicacy and should be savoured, but to us, it should be worshipped. He laughed and then asked. Do you think we are weird?
In this land, we see almost everywhere snails _ at homes, kitchens, farms and on the streets. No one may take them, at least not being seen. I saw you, that’s why I stopped you. If An extreme devotee had caught you, be sure to receive punishment from the elders.
What happens If A Worshipper Eats A Snail?
If one of us eats a snail without knowing it was part of the ingredients used in the food’s preparation, he will start hissing and bringing out spilt like a snail. God, this is so serious. Yes, it is. Just imagine any characteristics you have seen a snail possess. That will be the traits of the man until they bring him or her to the snail god for cleansing.
You may think, what if they don’t see the snail deity? Certain death, my friend, that’s why an Ogbe Ogume man run from a snail like hell.
In return for the worship of the snail god, we worshipers get PROTECTION from gunshot and cutlass. This is a powerful belief in traditionalism. It is not every day we come across this type of African culture – mesmerising and also outrageous. Anyway, please tell me more, sir.
You know, before the colonial period, most Africans went to war with cutlasses, arrows and spears. So for one not to die in war from any of these instruments, they prepare you a charm that will stop these weapons from entering your body. In the snail’s case, the snail is the major recipe used in the charm’s preparation. So as a devotee, you must not eat or kill this animal.
In recent times, rumours have it that people come around at night to pick it to sell. Can you believe nothing happens to them, even people from the neighbouring communities? Such a thing can only take place if one is not from Ogbe ogume and also not a worshiper of the snail god.
Traditionalism And The Believe In A Tortoise
The tortoise is another deity in Ogbe ogume. It is also taboo to eat this animal. Here we formally call it nnayi meaning my father. Have you read African naming culture or the meaning of African last names? Check it out to get a clue about the naming culture in Affrica.
Like the snail, we always see the tortoise moving around in the community and it also has a special shrine dedicated to it. The tortoise god also protects one from cutlass and guns like the snail. However, in this case, the tortoise is the major ingredient for this charm. Which is more potent between the snail and tortoise charm?
In the tortoise’s case, if we eat it or kill it, we assume we have killed our father. A person who fails gets a swollen stomach like a pregnant woman until we bring him or her to the feet of the god – bringing offerings. When the offerings are brought before the god, the chief priest will ask the god if this human has offended him. If he has, he should please accept the offering and free him from the swollen stomach. In a few seconds, the person will start having signs of using the toilet. Right there in front of the gods and man, he will shit and his tummy will start going down, a sign that the offering is accepted.
I tell you these people have lots of tradition and believe that I can not mention. However, I will try to give you one more gist before I leave. I am so hungry right now. What do you think about the concept of traditionalism so far?
When A Tortoise Is In An Uncomfortable Environment
We also believe that when a tortoise is tied or caged, an Ogume man must do something. Let’s take, for example, a person from Ogbe Ogume is passing through the market, and by chance passed a tortoise. The tortoise will make so much noise to gain the attention of the person. He must endeavour to buy the tortoise no matter the cost and let it go. How did the tortoise know the person is from Ogume? That is where the supernatural comes in, my friend. This is an African myth for you.
If the owner of the turtle refuses to sell after giving all he has, then as he leaves the market, he should abuse the seller or the owner, showing disgust and disdain for the person’s action. Awe, what a tradition. When he does that, he is free from the curse, but if he does not, the reverse is the case.
Tales Of The Sheep Goddess
In Utue Ogume, one of the seven villages, we forbid one to eat ram. Like the turtle and snail, sheep roam around freely however, we do not use the ram to prepare any charms.
The people of Utue worship a goddess that is unknown physically to them. According to a native, she appears to whosoever she wants, to warn him or her of innate danger. Because of this act, she earns the name nne, meaning mother. Like a mother hen protects her chick, so also the goddess protects the Uteu people. People who have seen her say she is always in white attire and whatever she says comes to pass. Not long after, people started worshipping her and they built a shrine in her honour at the far end of the village.
One certain day, they took their offerings to the shrine-like they always do, but when they got there, they saw a white sheep. She was nowhere to be found. They wonder if this could be the goddess pet or her. In order not to offend her, they agreed never to eat sheep again in the community. So this animal lives as long as they like and when they die, the villagers bury them as they bury humans.
Wow, what a folktale. I have heard enough, sir. Thank you. Did I find the existence of God, am not sure? So my quest continues. Until then, see you on my next adventure.
It takes an on-bias mind to see through traditionalism. While we may be stuck that there is one God, or that there are no supernatural powers, the reverse might be the case. This confession of the traditionalist about traditionalism has not only questioned the existence of God, but the essence of man, too.
I have an open mind to this kind of belief. Do you? Let me in, in your thoughts.
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