I had this nice handmade cowrie necklace on some days ago and someone said to me, probably to save me from eternal damnation “Cowries are demonic, don’t use it”. I found the advise hilarious and wondered if the devil handcrafted the necklace or if the Hausa man who made it with leather and sold to me was the devil.
I don’t get how it is “demonic” or “sinful” to appreciate one’s culture. That’s why we have pianos in churches but rarely see the talking drum. That is why brainwash ourselves into accepting other people’s culture and neglecting ours. If a cowrie necklace is “demonic” so is an imported golden one. Both are products of nature, one from the sea and the other from the earth. Why should only one be demonic? Oh! It must be the element of water. Fish must be demonic too.
We don’t teach children our customs and traditions because it’s “demonic” but we expect them to learn foreign ones. And then we answer funny names we don’t know the meaning because our native names are supposedly linked to the devil. And now people claim all our festivals and villages are “demonic”, that is why lots of children don’t know what their ancestral homeland is like. We celebrate Halloween with glee but frown upon new yam festival.
I’m Christian but there is nowhere in Bible I’m been asked to replace my tradition. Or that investing myself in the culture and traditions of my people makes me less a Christian. Cowries were even used as our currency in the past. I remember being struck by how Amaka in Purple Hibiscus wanted to answer her Igbo name for her confirmation, not a foreign one. Of course, every culture worldwide has its pitfalls but if I say my name is Onyinye or Olufunmi please don’t ask for my “Christian” name my both names praises God. I choose not to deny my roots and bastardise it because someone came to my homeland and said his is righteous. I will keep wearing cowries because of the aesthetic appeal it has and because it is a gift from God, man can’t make cowries from nothing.