African Tradition And The Violation Of Fundamental Human Right: A Nigerian Case Study

By Akinyemi Doyinsola

 
Thorough research has proven that Africa is arguably the richest in cultural values, among all other continents across the world.

The African culture like every other conventional practices across the globe is however not without some obviously precarious and grossly anti human practices, which has not only attracted negative and backward brand identity for the continent on a holistic evaluation, but has sent away some of her finest products in human capital.

Culture is the beliefs, customs and arts of a particular society, generally accepted to the constituents of the society. The autocratic monarchy practices in most kingdoms of Africa has however expunged the ‘general acceptability’ clause in African culture. Hence, the precipitation of almost countless cases of the human abuse and violation, religious goddess  Oracle (’ifa’) practices and human dedication to deities as sacrifices is a total subversion of fundamental human rights to live and associate in many African communities.
 
Primitive Dedication of Human being To Deities
 
There are several cases of total dedication of human beings both male and female, young and old to certain goddesses, deities with some mythical beliefs, thereby subverting the will of the dedicated and leaving them with no choice as obviously noticeable in some traditional practices calls for serious concern.

Literally, sacrifice is an act where a gift is given to show appreciation and to expect greater reward. Sacrifice in this context is an act of offering or giving a gift to a deity, or god as a form of religious practice.
 
Similar to practices in other ethnic group in Nigeria, Yoruba culture is found of offering sacrifices to their gods and this includes rituals that sometimes involve human abuse and blood sacrifices of innocent being or creatures, an act that constitutes abuse of fundamental human rights of people paying the supreme price with their lives as will be explained further. Although this seems to have abated compared to what was obtainable in the early 20th century however, a recent scenario that played out after the death of the Irele community monarch created a complex controversy in Ondo State at the moment.

Ode Irele is a major town within Irele Local government. The town is also one of the popular towns among the nine (9) communities in Ikale race of Ondo State. It is presently in disarray as a result of demand for heinous  traditional practice of ‘abobaku’ – literally explained as a man appointed “to die with the king”.
 
This is a barbaric traditional procedures performed when a Yoruba King dies which involves burying of innocent victim alive on the demise of the monarch which is considered ferocious and outright subversion of fundamental rights to live.

This tradition did not only create panic but worsen the already tensed Nigerian environment of insecurity. This belief and other barbaric practices has brought abrupt end to the lives of so many promising young and vibrant residents of Irele community and other border towns within the Ikale territory, and must be brought to a vehement end. The life of another freely guaranteed and God given must not be abused under any circumstances or culture.
 
 
 
Forceful Enthronement, Women Abuses And Violation of Fundamental Human Rights
 
Another case in the series of atrocities perpetrated under the guise of tradition is the practice of forceful enthronement into sensitive traditional rulership roles and Chieftaincy positions which is usually accompanied with imposed rituals and precarious practices.

It is disheartening that at this age and era destinies of human is still been left in the hand of uncivilized traditional values and unregulated primitive village authorities in most of West African countries where deity is or oracle (ifa) is usually consulted before major traditional decisions or appointment of traditional rulers are made for most kingdoms and villages.
 
 
Like the case in Iju-Odo, Osooro village where upon demise of extant powerful high chief Ojomo, oracle was consulted to choose a successor. Though in the case of this village, the oracle chose a man from ‘Moko family’ who blatantly  refused to accept the highly revered position and decided to ran out of the country to avert wrath of the gods and threats of been persecuted as dictated by their village tradition. Upon OPC trail to locate this man without success, Information gathered revealed that ‘iwo festival’ popularly called ‘oro’ was carried out late month of June 2018 in an attempt to cleanse the land and appease the gods for reprieve on the refusal of Moko family to produce their son. This village is a still in a chaotic situation with obnoxious threats, discrimination and assault on the parents of the chosen one.  The entire community is however said to still be in search of him and the family. Information gathered from the village chief priest lubokun / Oba of iju-odo revealed that such act of disobedience to gods must be brought to book. In their word ‘failure of Moko family to produce their son portend great misfortune for the village and as such  repercussion is death if the family is eventually found’
 
 
No matter what this position means to the village or family, we do not belief any one should be forced to take up endeavors against his/her agreement or be persecuted for refusing to accept such a lifestyle-changing endeavor without his /her consent as this amount to violation of human right to freedom of association.  Given the power and socio-political influence this position wade in the society, it should be possible to cede this to whoever is interested in it. Flexibility like this will help promote fundamental human right in the society. 
 
Women Abuses And Fundamental Human Rights

Another ugly practice that still plays out in the 21st century Yoruba society is the prohibition of kings’ widows from re-marriage after the demise of the king.

This ugly practice not only brings pain and agony to its victims but it also plays out as a blatant abuse of the fundamental human rights of freedom of association of the widows. This is aside the restrictions and isolation imposed on kings’ widows in the practice of mourning which lasts over three months depending on the custom of the town involved.

In most cases, a number of these widows are barred from leaving the palace as they automatically assume the role of wives to the incoming monarchs. Added to this, most of these widows are not granted any inheritance from their late husband which could make life rather difficult after the passage of their spouses.

Above, scenarios therefore make many to belief that government in Africa are at the verge of losing authority and influence over their citizenry on account of slow socio-economic developmental progress due to gross insecurity.

CONCLUSION

In view of the above stated cases and the fact that the welfare of a continent is premised on the well-being of its individuals, if a significant proportion of the individuals who constitute a nation have been abused, made to live in fear or confine as an outcast in their own country or locality, these cultures therefore portend grave consequences for the well-being of the overall society and the unborn generation if not address on time.

For the sake of both the individuals concerned and the well-being of the larger society, steps need to be taken to eliminate the various abuse in the Nigerian society and specially to improve and respect the right of men and women that constitute the society, thereby sustaining the fundamental human rights of every citizen.

The situation can be improved by approaching it from several different directions. Obviously, one approach is that of legislative reform, and this is the responsibility of the government particularly the state and grass-root government. The federal and state government needs to undertake socio-cultural adjustments by strategically putting in place traditional and cultural reforms that can engender peaceful and safe co-existence of people in the society. Adoption of moral suasion on uncivilized/inhumane belief system and culture, advocacy on human right, grass-root legislative reforms, administrative approaches and regulation of traditional institution that will refocus the traditional rulers as champions of cultural shift will help deal with such an abuse on women and men in the society.
 
 
 

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