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Opinions of Friday, 20 July 2007

Columnist: Asigri, D. Z.

Bam kum-na-mi, te bam la-ada (Moel) Moshi language

I am sure that this feature article’s has raised your eyebrows before delving into it for, a friend of mine who hails from Bawku in the Upper East Region once remarked to me in his native language, ‘Moel - Moshi’ which literally means in English that ‘whilst others are lamenting following the death of a loved one, others are rejoicing’.

I chose to write this article having been spurred by Arkosah-Sarpong, Kofi’s feature article of 11 July 2007, ‘Quashigah, Culture and Prosperity’. My Moshi friend’s assertion seems to me to be consistent with Quashigah’s concluding comments that, progressive tendencies enhances prosperity in certain cultures globally.

I am uncertain of the concept of ‘Culture’ which has been intertwined with the term ‘Prosperity’ and adopted for the feature article by Kofi although it makes interesting reading. I have my personal view of culture, and that is that, it is a slippery concept - as simple as that, as opposed to the views/findings by noted researchers as identified within the literature. Anthropologist Bodley, J. H. , for example, writing in 1994 posits that, culture is a set of shared , symbolic rules and norms that features a social group which includes the group’s values, ideals, and rules for living and is passed from generation to generation within the group. The cultural rules determine the way in which people in a culture act, feel, and think. While most human cultures share much in common differences also abound. And those differences create hard distinctions in the way people in different cultures perceive themselves and others. Furthermore, anthropologist Margaret Mead’s study in New Guinea in the 1930’s bore some resemblance to that of Bodley’s as stated above. Indeed, I am aware that most of Mead’s findings carried out within the Mundugmur Tribe in New Guinea are still embedded in their life of the said indigenes- from ‘cradle to grave‘.

Surely, I am concerned about certain cultural practices but how much do others perceive mine and yours? Who am I to say that one’s culture is no good because one spend less for the ‘cradle’ and more for the ‘grave’. A global call for some sort of ‘cultural renewal’ as it can be argued has emerged in our political world, but to which groups of cultures, invites some philosophical issue in my view.

Can it be argued further that culture and prosperity are religiously and attitudinally constructed? My experience in Saudi Arabia in the 1970’s informs me that culture and religion have no place in prosperity during funerals - no playing off!. For example, following the assassination of King Faisal of Saudi Arabia - rest in peace - Amen by his cousin , he was buried without delay in an unmarked grave in the desert with only a shroud put on him. We know too well that Saudi Arabia is an oil rich country but the notion for “national craze for burial and funeral festivities” is none existent though you may argue that the late King ‘deserved’ the most expensive coffin that the Saudi‘s could purchase (preferably made in Ghana).

I find the syndrome of Pull Him Down (PHD) too ‘as a cultural practice’ amongst us, rather despicable for a culture to breed and to nourish following ‘graving’ rather than ‘cradling’ period of man’s life. Indeed, following the death of Madam Haw our Parliamentarians eulogized her - rest in peace, Amen. Mr Haruna Iddrisu, NDC - Tamale South remarked that ‘the nation recognized people only in their death and expressed hope that lives of people can be acknowledged’.

Asigri, D. Z.
Senior Lecturer
Practitioner Researcher
Middlesex University London

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