CONFLICT OF TRADITIONS: AFRICAN AND CHRISTIAN
"The legend is fascinating. What is the moral teaching in this story?" Earnestly queried Father Giusseppe."The message of the Mole presupposes the graciousness of Ngai - the God of the ancestors who blesses man with physical immortality," proudly answered Nkamani.
"From times immemorial, man had an intrinsic desire to eternally exist in space and time without dying. However, man’s desire remained a nightmare; and man was doomed to face the inevitable death,” Muketha regrettably said as a matter of historical fact.
"Man was not created by God to be mortal," said Father Giusseppe and quickly.added, “God created man as an immortal being - to live for ever in his physical state."
"Hear that! Hear that!" shouted Anampio excitedly.All the elders were delighted at the concurrence of the Christian and Imenti traditional teachings."The greed and the selfishness of the Hyena stands for man's egoistic inclinations and desires that make man essentially egocentric. From these inclinations come many evil desires and deeds that have defiled man - God's glory into an evil inclined being", expounded Muketha on the traditional ethics.
"Evil deeds alienate man from God and from one another," Kirago regrettably said as he struck his stick on the ground in the traditional manner of emphasizing on a point.
Placing emphasis on man’s wicked deeds, Nkamani said, "Man's greed, selfishness and carnal desires brought immortality to himself. Worse still man's evil deeds in pursuit of physical pleasures threatened man's peaceful co-existence with one another. Such evils as selfishness, greed, hatred, envy, malice, murder, disobedience, dishonesty and theft, and adultery are the most obvious results."
Father Giusseppe could hardly hide how impressed he was with this dissertation. The old cleric's face was all smiles. He had at last found an entry point into the African traditional beliefs and teachings. Wearing a grin on his face, the good Father Giusseppe asserted, “The evil deeds of man can be aligned to give a paradigm similar to the ten commandments given by God to Moses!"He then began to correlate the people’s moral conduct to the commandments in the Decalogue. “Commandment number four states, children are to respect, honour and obey their parents. Commandment number five states, thou shall not kill. To these commandment corresponds evil deeds of murder, envy, hatred and malice. Commandment number six states, thou shall not commit adultery.”
Nkamani interrupted and said, “Caution! Caution! Father you need to understand the background of adultery.”
“No Nkamani, you are taking us off the truck,” said the senior elder patronizingly and added, “All we agree on is that man is responsible for his own mortality.”
In excitement Father Giuseppe said, “That is right Muketha! You seem to be a very widely read man ad you are well informed…”
“ I don’t know about being widely read…oh yes! I don’t know even how to read or write. I just admitted that man is his own enemy. By his deeds he brings an end to himself!” said the senior elder emotionally.
“Quite! That is exactly what I mean!” persisted Father Giusseppe. “By man death came to the world and it is by man- the Son of man- that death is conquered”.
"What!" chorused the elders in unison. As for Father Giusseppe, he seemed lost in his speech as he continued."Have you not read in the Holy Book? For as by man came death, by the Son of man, Yesu Kristo has come also the resurrection of the dead."All the elders now were dumbfounded. They all stared at him as if he had grown a second nose on his face. But the old priest continued with his dissertation as if none of them existed. He asserted ,"Yes my dear brothers... the mortal puts on immortality and the saying - have you not heard? Have you not! Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is the sting? Through our Lord, Yesu Kristo - though his resurrection - we were given victory over death!"
"Enough!" shouted the senior elder inspite of himself and continued in a monologue, "Come back to your senses good old man. I'm still hanging on your lips? Did you say that the dead resurrect?
Where are they? Our great, great great! grandfathers/mothers died. Where are they! We are yet to see them!"He asked Father Giusseppe while aggressively staring at him,"Do you mean they came and we failed to see them? That will be the day..."
"Of course! A child when born in the bush decided to return to its mother's womb!" said Kagane as he pulled on his beard with a pincher like device. The crescendo of laughter shook the earth around them but it died as suddenly as it had started when the senior elder banged the stick down on the ground.
"That was long time ago when our forefathers were migrating from Mboa of course!" continued Kagane who totally absolved in his characteristic stare at his finger nails to notice the change of the atmosphere. "That will be..." he came to with a start as he realized the grave silence around him and took a look around by rolling his eyes in the socket chameleon like, a fete that he himself alone could achieve.
“Now son," the senior elder addressed Father Giusseppe paternalistically for he was indeed of great old age."You say that people died and then resurrected to live physically again with us? No! Don't interrupt good Father Giusseppe. I 'm a man of great knowledge. But I'm not proud of it! It is a great responsibility I bear mark you to keep these children towing their grandfathers footsteps! People die-there is no doubt about that. But their physical existence thereafter is continued in their offsprings."
It was Father Giusseppe and Turbo's turn to stare open - mouthed at the senior elder as if he had removed a white rabbit from a magic hat. Neither dared to interrupt this sage with unfathomable traditional wisdom. Father Giusseppe had at last found a good entry point. He couldn't help interrupting."You see! We concur in that there is continuance of life after death. You see that now. Don't you?"
"I don't think I see anything old man,” said the senior elder calmly."I mean unlike you, physical existence is continued in the offsprings. The African concept of death is different from yours. Death to us is not so terminal after all. It is not time to mourn unless one is young and childless of course!"
"The faces of the two men of God were all confusion now. They didn't know what to think of the senior elder, a man of great knowledge and wisdom. One thing was clear to Father Giusseppe though that they were reaching to an agreement soon. The Africans did after all believe in life after death. The two ideas had to be reconciled but not right now. Oh no, the elders emotions were at an hedge. Tempers had to cool down first. Another day would be as good as any.
"It has been a very good exchange of ideas. I think we are arriving at a common base,” asserted the senior elder as if he read what was going on in the mind of Father Giusseppe. "No let it wait for another day - the sun does not wait for the wise man to finish his articulation. Another day will do,” the senior elder said as an afterthought while he rose to officially end the meeting.