symbolic representations of a people


The Asians who placed oranges beside the grave of a beloved one, the Africans who cooked delicious food, or the Europeans who placed flowers on the grave of their loved ones are all doing the same thing with the materials they are at home with. “Nku di na mba na-eghere mba nri”.

A non-African might see placing food beside the graves of dead people, as done in some African tribes, as a waste of food.

A non-Asian or Eurpean might see it as a waste of time, burning insense beside one whose sense of smell has ceased.

A non-European might see it as a waste of flowers, placing exortic flowers at the grave sides of the dead since they can no longer see them, or the importance of placing lamps or candles beside the graves since the dead do not need them to see.

Symbols are developed out of the experience of a people. To understand the symbols of a people, you have to understand their story.

It is an act of arrogance and malice to look down on a people’s historical acts of representation, or worse still, to replace them with those of others.

Hold firm to your symbols. They remind you of where you are coming from, your history, experiences, successes, aspirations, failures, and anxieties as a people. They remind you of who you are. Do not be ashamed of them. Remember, others are not ashamed of theirs.