LOUD WHISPERS: The Value Of What Is Ours

In December 2006, I attended a Ford Foundation philanthropy retreat in Bahia, Brazil. My first visit to Brazil was in 2004 to attend a conference in Rio de Janeiro, and even though I enjoyed the experience, I felt I had missed something by not being able to go up to Bahia which has strong African roots, being home to millions of descendants of African slaves.  At breakfast on our first morning, we went to the buffet stands and saw a woman frying  Akara (bean cakes). There was also Moin Moin (steamed bean cakes) available. It turned out that it was the day when Yemoja, the famous Yoruba goddess was being celebrated across the country in a festival on December 8th. Throughout the day we ate dishes of beans, fish, yams, some made with palm-oil, prepared in ways which were no different from back home. There was also a lot of dancing and drumming, and if you listened to the songs carefully, you could make out one or two Yoruba words.

The Ford Foundation team had arranged  site visits for us to see the work of some of their grantee organisations in the area. I looked through the list of projects to be visited and there were initiatives on HIV/AIDS, Agriculture, and Youth Development, which probably had black beneficiaries but I saw nothing led by the black community in Bahia. One of the members of the local organizing committee was an old friend of mine, Sueli Carneiro who I had met through the Black Women’s Cross-Cultural Institute in the 1990s. I asked her why there was no black project listed to be visited and she told me that they had thought about it, but were not sure if the participants would be interested in visiting such a project. She said if we were interested, arrangements could be made for us. I saw this as my opportunity to accomplish what I had been unable to do on my first visit to the country. I got some other ‘rebels’ on board and we visited three projects in the black community – a women’s center, a youth program and the last port of call was a community center. This was the most inspiring of all. In the main hall of the center there was a large mural on the walls, which had a number of African cities such as Dakar, Maputo, Lagos, Nairobi and Accra depicted on it. When we asked what the significance of this was, our hosts told us that those cities were in African countries, populated and run by Africans. Their dream was to have their own city in Brazil that would not just be populated by black people, but would be owned and governed by them – like those African cities they had put up on their walls. According to them, they would be able to own their community agency, have freedom of cultural and spiritual expression and would be treated with equality and dignity. Our group was made up of senior philanthropy practitioners from various African countries. We were all taken aback to find out that in a part of the world, there was a group of people who saw our affliction-prone countries as their own El Dorado. It was such a humbling and moving experience.

Full article in Loud Whispers cover final


Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi is a Gender Specialist, Social Entrepreneur and Writer. She is the Founder of Abovewhispers.com, an online community for women. She can be reached at BAF@abovewhispers.com




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16 Responses to LOUD WHISPERS: The Value Of What Is Ours

  1. Olakunle Olajide February 20, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    Thank you for penning this down ma. The Nigerian culture is more or less going into extinction gradually most especially in the cities. While i was in the University, i see white folks studying the Nigerian languages and they will communicate with us in those languages. I just hope we won’t have to beg to get what is rightfully ours in the nearest future.

  2. Femi Diipo February 20, 2017 at 5:10 pm

    This articles shows exactly just how pathetic we have become about our tribal and ethnical values. It has gotten so low that people literally laugh at those of us who can still impeccably speak our languages. Perhaps Government should play more active parts in promoting the exhibition and appreciation of our cultural values and parents should really stop speaking English to their children in homes. i think this whole thing stemmed from the seeming abandonment of our languages in the first place

  3. Dom dom February 20, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    Such a thought provoking piece. it is always sad to note that there was civilization in this part of the world before colonization. We had arts, designs, different and varied fashion styles, system of government and several if not almost all the other aspects of humanity and culture but all these are now in almost total extinction. Something really has to be done about this. i am proud of my cultural values

  4. DSEED February 20, 2017 at 9:22 pm

    We ate missing out already. Our culture and tradition is almost into extinction. Way out is what we can’t even figure out due to technology.

  5. Olowolafe Olanrewaju February 20, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    Exactly ma. As you have said, the future is happening now. Right under our noise self. Western believe and traits is taken away our culture and tradition.

  6. olakitan February 20, 2017 at 9:35 pm

    Thank you ma by bringing back to us this memory. The most painful part of these is that we don’t even see any big deal in losing our culture. We encouraged our children the more, so they no know nothing concerning there traditions and cultures. No wonder the generations of the children outside now lack respect and manners. They also misbehaved and we are blaming them. They can’t be blame just because they lack the basic of what would have open there minds to good or proper morals.

  7. Princess February 21, 2017 at 4:41 am

    I don’t really accede to that saying that we should acknowledge ancestors, there’s no where in the bible that says that. And anything that doesn’t pertain to the Lord should be totally discarded. I know have stepped on toes by saying this, but I know every christians reading this article understands what I meant by that, may God help our understanding.

  8. Esosa February 21, 2017 at 4:46 am

    This is a good one. Our values, norms, tradition and culture have been neglected due to civilization and religion. I want to beg the youths of this generation to bring them back, it all can start with us. Yes, we can do it.

  9. Julie February 21, 2017 at 4:48 am

    I agree with you @ Esosa. Neglecting our traditions, morals, norms and value because of civilization is totally absurd and lugubrious.

  10. Legzycool February 21, 2017 at 7:40 am

    I think culture and civilization are two terms wrongly placed along side. I think they are two different things entirely but we have made them so alike that the latter is trying to overshadow the former.
    I miss some cultural heritage already…

  11. Michaels February 22, 2017 at 9:24 am

    This is the exact thing the writer is saying. What do you mean by that? God gave us a tradition. Its not about killing someone, this is something that adds value to a ceremony which we have neglected. So being a christian means you shouldn’t give caeser what belongs to him? Please!

  12. Maureen Adams February 22, 2017 at 9:26 am

    Traditions. I can relate with this o. I am from rivers state, but i have never been to my state, I can’t even speak my dialect. My parents just brought us up in lagos and with english. When we talk about going to know our hometown, they say, it is not necessary. God help us.

  13. matilda February 22, 2017 at 9:29 am

    Traditions! That one is long gone in the Nigeria system o. We have been injected to be whiter than white. We are over civilised than the ones who brought civilisation and if care isn’t take, we are going to pay dearly for this. So, let us share this post so this can go viral and people can understand the value of our traditions

  14. Lalekan February 22, 2017 at 9:30 am

    As a christian, I don’t think this is necessary. I can’t be naming my child with kolanuts. The bible is good for me.

  15. Princess February 23, 2017 at 8:31 am

    @ Michael i understand what the writer was talking about, but the truth still remains that some traditional beliefs are ungodly and should be neglected if they are not the will of God. God’s word supercedes every other thing.

  16. sharon dede February 24, 2017 at 9:37 am

    This so true. In my house, we don’t have any trace of our hometown, we can’t speak, we don’t visit uncles in the village because my parents think they are too fetish. etc
    we have lost traditions! it’s a pity.


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