I been thinking about that age old ‘African’ custom that made siblings eat together from one plate…..
In the more enlightened Igbo-Nigerian homes I found that the eldest man sometimes made all the first cousins eat together. It made for some strong bonds. And healthy competitive values.
Observing the impact of the western practice of eating on individual plates, and first cousins that are frequently strangers. Living worlds apart, literally and figuratively. The loosening of family bonds, the hegemonic reinterpretation of ‘family’.
In Igbo-Nigeria nothing is worse than a ‘lost son’. They didn’t care so much for daughters except as a means to make good in-laws. Nothing is worse in Igbo-Nigeria than bad in-laws – distant, aloof, uncaring, don’t visit often especially on feast days.
Hence no one wants a daughter to marry further than a days return trek away. Besides, it was dangerous to marry too far away in the Slave Trade days. Your brothers had to be near enough to keep an eye on you, in case the husband tried to sell you.
There are still many families that maintain those customs in a modern world; siblings living together, first cousins like siblings. A tight family unit – your strongest protection against the exigencies of life. ‘The Group Mind’
My Igbo-Nigerian and Russian values meet harmoniously here. In Russian there is no word for cousin, the word for cousin is sister or brother. In Igbo there is no word for cousin either. The word for cousin is sister or brother.
Its not a peaceful conflict free zone, as a matter of fact a multitude will have a multitude of petty grievances but as my grand father Agwubuo would say – it is better to have a multitude that squabbles than a peaceful but empty homestead.
You will remember what’s important – family. Its more than DNA