Day 367: How much does Tradition Cost us?

Middelburg - At least 20 boys have died in the last six days after attending initiation schools in Mpumalanga, police said on Tuesday.
The deaths occurred at schools in Belfast, KwaMhlanga, Kwaggafontein, Verena and Middelburg, Colonel Leonard Hlathi said.
“We have opened murder cases.”
No arrests had been made and police were still collecting statements. The information would then be presented to the national director of public prosecutions for a decision on how to proceed.
Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane was saddened by the deaths of young people at initiation schools in South Africa.
“The reported loss of several young lives in Mpumalanga and elsewhere in the country is regrettable,” he said in a statement.
“This has happened to young people who were still at their prime, looking forward to a brighter future where they could still reach their potential.”
He said the boys attended initiation schools with the hope of reaching manhood.
“We call on the traditional leadership to work together with government to prevent this regrettable loss of lives.”- iOL

It seems we pay a price for everything in our lives these days. Maybe some of these things served us well at one point in history, but all they do now is keep us stuck in a way of thinking when there is the opportunity to move forward in a way that would benefit and improve our lives.

There is money to be made from traditions. Here in South Africa, for example, some of the African cultures sacrifice goats, sheep, cattle to mark some special occasion such as a wedding, funeral, coming of age, birth, etc. Certain kinds of animals are regarded as having more worth in the sacrificial ceremony and so people are willing to pay (usually farmers) quite handsomely for certain animals.

In order for a Zulu man to marry, he must pay lobola to his prospective wife's family (a kind of dowry, in the Zulu tradition he is replacing the worth of the daughter of the family as a means of helping the family - financially, domestically, caring for children, etc - with something of equal practical use to the family) traditionally cattle is given, but these days money is more common.

Then there is the spiritual guidance given by traditional healers (known as sangoma's in the Zulu tribes) - they act as a medium between the ancestors and the living. In Zulu tradition, there are no ghosts or angels per say, but there are ancestors - spirits of the deceased who watch over their families and act as a medium between the living and God, before ascending to heaven themselves. Now the Zulu believe that if they dishonour the ancestors in some way that the ancestors will show their disapproval through the manifestation of all sorts of bad stuff (ill health, losing a job, ending a relationship etc). Zulu's also believe in curses, that one can invoke their ancestors to bring misfortune on another person. So now if a Zulu person is experiencing misfortune they will go and see a sangoma. This is obviously not free.

Traditions carried over from old cultures do not integrate into our current life styles - where money has become the factor that determines to what degree one is able to honour their traditions. And now, honouring one's traditions has become a case of hoping that you choose the right way to do it, because there are so many people willing to lie, cheat and steal - how do you know that the place you send your child to will honour your traditions the way you hope they will, or if they are simply trying to make money and do not truly care, not even enough to ensure the safety of your child?

In the way that we live now, is the honouring of traditions what is best, or are we just clinging to a past that is simply that: past its time?