Family plays a central role in African society. It shapes daily experiences such as how and where individuals live, how they interact with the people around them, and, in some cases, whom they marry. It can determine a person’s political identity and the way money and property are transferred. In rural areas, the family typically remains the basic unit of agricultural production.
These experiences set the basis of a family legacy. Over time, these values, beliefs, and attitudes are conveyed unconsciously by parents and internalized by children unknowingly. The children do not evaluate the validity, truthfulness, or usefulness of the beliefs. Therefore, it is important to evaluate the legacy that you are laying for your children during their upbringing. A lot of people blame the deterioration in some African communities on the failure of the parents to leave a good legacy.
Classification of Family Legacy
There are three broad classes of family legacy for a typical African family. These are social, emotional, and spiritual legacies. These classes are further fundamentally broken down into sub-classes that include the beliefs, values, and altitudes. Metaphorically, these legacies represent the pillars that every African child needs in order to develop into a responsible adult.
Social Family Legacy
Most African societies promote a communal lifestyle over an individualistic lifestyle. As children grow up, they learn the values and attitudes that will help them interact with others and cultivate healthy and stable relationships. How parents interact with their co-workers, friends, and family members will teach the children a lot. The love, respect, and courtesy that exists between different groups will become their own template that guides them to adulthood.
Emotions are hard to pick up. However, reactions based on emotions aren’t. As with social legacy, emotional legacy can be either negative or positive. It is comparingly hard to overcome a negative emotional legacy. However, as a parent, leaving a positive emotional legacy should begin with living a valuable life. Be thoughtful about your reactions when you are angry or hungry.
Passing on a spiritual legacy to children goes beyond just teaching them to go to church. In fact, there is a fine line between religion and spirituality. Thus, a parent needs to deliberately identify the spiritual beliefs to pass onto their children. There should also be a balance between traditional spiritual believes and western spirituality.
5 Reasons Why Family Legacy Is a Big Deal in Africa
#1 – Cultural Heritage is Preserved Through Legacy
Africa is rapidly losing most of its culture because of the failure of the elderly to teach the young generation about their culture. To reverse this, parents strive to maintain what their parents instilled into them and pass it on to their children. In addition to word of mouth, African societies should work towards sustaining cultural practices including important festivals. By so doing, Africa can preserve its rich rich cultural heritage. Tourists from all over the world fly to Africa every year to experience this rich heritage—and we can’t afford to lose them.
#2 – Legacy Nurtures a Strong Sense of Positive Identity
Identity is an important virtue for every child’s social development. It is hard to forge a path if you don’t know where you are coming from. Sadly, some children grow up without a sense of their origin. In Africa, there is a high reverence for family origin. This is the motivation behind the quote, ‘A good name is better than silver or gold’. Unfortunately, economic and social barriers often force Africans in the diaspora to adopt new identities. Eventually, the offsprings lose sight of their origin. Many times we hear of black celebrities trying to trace their African origin. This is the cause.
#3 – Legacy Promotes Multi-Generational Family Ties
Many factors affect relationships between families at generational levels, and legacy is one of them. In African societies, some families are closer to each other because of the legacy handed down from parents to offspring. For example, The offspring of one family may be told to respect another family because of something their grandparent did in the past. Such a legacy promotes love and respect between the families for many years to come.
#4 – Wealth Preservation is Rooted in Family Legacy
In African culture, the definition of wealth stretches beyond financial assets and material possessions. It includes time, health, family size, etc. These components of wealth can be preserved through legacies. For instance, the value of an artifact is set by the parents. The kids will pick it up and pass it on to theirs. Ultimately, wealth is preserved with valuables and passed across generations.
#5 – Legacy Builds a Community Spirit
Many African nations still practice communism to date. For example, we have the famous Ujamaa policy in Tanzania which calls for collective farming among other communal activities. In this context, the communism concept advocates for mass involvement in community work in exchange for other activities rather than for payment. In effect, communism strengthens families and community spirit.
Having a legacy is not as hard as maintaining it, especially across generations. In Africa, several families are now practicing western cultures. However, there are still a few that still cling to the legacies left by their parents. If Africa wants to return to the morally sound glorious past, parents should start taking legacies seriously. Now tell us, do you have a family legacy? If there are more than one, tell us the one you value the most. Drop your response in the comment box below.