‘Tete Whatsapp, Sekuru Google, Sahwira Wikipedia’
Further to my last lament on the decline of the printed word through social media and the web, it no longer is just about the demise of the reading culture and newspapers and books.
In Ignatius Mabasa’s excellent “Shelling the Nuts” column in The Herald in Zimbabwe, he describes the ‘schizophrenia’ and ‘lost cultural bearings’ caused among the urban young by the new means of communication through scrolling, searching and tapping out messages on smartphones, tablets and electronic devices.
Old values and traditions are in jeopardy, he writes. Young people today are “chained to mobile phones, movies, radio stations, TVs and remote controls that are constantly demanding their attention.”
This stops ‘matare emusha’ or family deliberations that were so precious in the past.
“It is through matare emusha that children are taught to be good listeners … It is in family meetings that people learn to accept criticism, manage and resolve conflicts … (and) to respect other people and opposing views in the family.”
“It was through matare that people shared their thinking and discussed and planned very important matters for the whole family.” There were always family seniors to be consulted and to receive the views and worries of the young and from whom age-old cultural practices were learnt.
In urban communities it doesn’t happen as much these days, that ability to turn back to the family.
“Having family meetings is a dying practice,” says Ignatius Mabasa
Nowadays younger Zimbabweans tend to trust new phenomenon that don’t know how to really solve their problems.
These, says Mabasa, are: Tete Whatsapp, Sekuru Google and Sahwira Wikipedia.
In tradition, a real tete, or aunt, is the first person one turns to for advice and guidance, the first to meet a new girlfriend or boyfriend, the first person a married couple consults over issues in the home.
Literally, sekuru means grandfather, a knowledgeable elder or uncle.
Literally, sahwira is a ‘sister,’ a close, trusted friend or adviser who is a mine of information on all matters that require explanation.