A time and place for praise

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Affirmations might come across as woolly psychobabble to some folks. Perhaps the term gets a bad rap from being associated with new age and personal growth superstitions. But I am aware of a practice with a similar function in the Yoruba culture of my forbears, known as the Oriki or the praise chant.

Orikis are usually linked to family lineage of any given person. Knowledge of such matters is passed down through grandparents, in my experience. One of my grandmothers was particularly good at reciting long passages of oral poetry that described the fine deeds of my ancestors and the qualities that I should have inherited from them.

Are such notions being passed on in this day and age? I am inclined to think they are, even though they might not be as apparent as they used to be when I was a child.

Many urbane artists and musicians of African heritage are wary of being roped into the praise singing tradition, for good reasons, since there are many issues to be resolved in terms of ongoing reflective self knowledge within the majority of the ruling elite classes of African nations, ethnicities and communities. Having said that, perhaps we shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bath water and more attention should be focused on the benefits of being given a morale boost on occasion.

Do we need to be aware of the appropriate time and place for reflection about personal and communal shortcomings, but also mindful of the moments when we ought to celebrate being who we are?