Contemporary moral recession in many African countries today contradicts, jests, and threatens the cultural bedrock of the predominant African culture. Whether or not it is a direct consequence of Western Secularism and Culture, where morals are subjective and age-long aphorisms are disregarded by varying degrees, the flagrant display of moral ineptitude, cultural atheism, nihilism, and flabbiness seems to me, a travesty of Africa’s yesteryears. This moral infirmity puzzles whether societal collectivism or individualism (in context) is an asset or downer to Africa. Today, I am writing on Baba Nofi (Nofi being a corrupted version of the Arab-Islamic name, Nafeesah). For non-Yoruba speakers, Baba Nofi translates as Nofi’s Father.
Back in the days when men were boys who would try to outrun their shadows, make cinema of silhouettes, innocent as much as guilty. depending on how much the graceful nimble-mischievousness of adolescence allows, was Baba Nofi, our assumed arch-enemy.
My Father’s relatively large house was enough to contain my siblings and our merry inglorious dastards for after-school frolicsomeness. With our parents off to their workplaces, our home would grace us and our friends after school. As innocent little angels full of guilt, we make Maracana, Nou Camp, and Santiago Bernabeu of the house. We would cook, dance to the sound of the water pouring from our overfilled tank, swim in our fish pond yet to be filled with fishes and if we get lucky to be blessed by the power company, we, with our friends, take different positions as Jackie Chan’s movie collections play; each one of us learning a new kung-fu skill we will never make a career of.
In the midst of this excitement is Baba Nofi’s unceremoniously visit. Like the angel of death, he comes unexpectedly to make misery of our exuberance, with every one of us Usain-Bolting out of the house, hoping his whip does not take our flesh, heads, and lives. And if we would be in deep water, Baba Nofi would lock the gates, and entrap us as a Lion does to its prey. It is not an exaggeration that Michael Jackson had nothing on us when we would dance to the songs of the whip as it makes drums of our skin.
I guess the reader now knows who Baba Nofi was. Every one of us resented, despised, and passionately hated him. Our parents being disciplinarians themselves, all we wanted was just some moments of unrestricted freedom in their absence only to be contained by Baba Nofi’s unsolicited offer to act as alternative police. He was not our Father’s friend, rather, he worked as a bricklayer for our father. Given that, we wondered why he never minded his business.
Baba Nofi aside, the culture of having multiple parents was a norm during my early teenage years. Children who decide to hang around inside of going to schools must avoid being in sight of anyone who knows their parents because they will get reported. Those days, the culture of minding your business was almost inexistent as people lived as a community.
Contemporary moral decadence in our societies has aroused a retrospective nostalgia about how we could have turned out if Baba Nofi was different. Retrospectively, the resentment I nursed towards Baba Nofi vanished and replaced with uncertain gratitude. Uncertain because I do not think I would approve of Baba Nofi’s tyrannical method of enforcing discipline, albeit, his uncelebrated influence cannot be underestimated.
We live in days where teenagers are unchecked, consequently, leading to a rise in teenage delinquency, moral bankruptcy, and nearly-nihilistic youths. The present age has taken full control of children from their parents, thus, one wonders, how can the one who cannot successfully oversee his wards see to others’?
With the internet, many teenagers have unrestricted access to different types of contents. Also worthy of mention is that it is the age of rights and mental health awareness. Consequently, everyone becomes extremely careful with the society becoming more individualistic.
Whether this individualist approach is of benefit to African communities begs for answers. This writer seeks the reader’s opinion, “Given the age of mental health awareness and human rights, should African communities embrace the western form or Africanize these almost indispensable phenomena?”
Bashir Lucas Samson Lukman