All over West Africa the Mis-Educated Than His Ancestors, the Metha, is struggling to come to terms with the responsibilities that his Culture and Tradition demand. He struggles with the concept that Tradition is a cultural, or even a civilizational, social contract. The Metha is not aware, or rather, he refuses to accept that the word, “tradition,” no matter the language, has always been a metaphor, albeit an imprecise one, for invoking a sense of obligation towards his own community.
Whereas those of us in the village regard tradition easily as a form of social responsibility that has evolved organically to the public mind, the Metha remains incapable, at the most intuitive level, to see tradition as the mutually accepted requirement for our collective social interaction. Just because tradition is not a literal social contract does not mean it is not specific to its requests.
No matter how narrow or broad our understanding of tradition may be, it seems to me that the Mis-Educated Than His Ancestors, the Metha, is resolute on bending the demands of tradition or outright breaking with tradition without the courtesy for the public wellbeing. Some of us accept tradition, most fundamentally, as it includes the shared expectation of what our community should and should not do, and how we as social animals should function within it.
Problem is the Metha is a neoliberal at heart—often times he is not aware what he is—and his sense of culture and tradition is only skin-deep – usually one or two Kente scarfs away on such “graduation” days. Neoliberalism demands the Metha’s complete submission to the concept of the Rugged Individual. Which implies that the Metha is an individual and he is also his own community all to himself.
The Metha is a God. Literally. And there’s nothing he needs from the community his parents hail from, and there’s nothing he wants to do for that community. The Metha’s way, in essence is his own unique, singular culture and tradition of one. He does not submit. He cannot submit. For submission demands that he ceases to aspire to neoliberal holiness. But then again, that is where his heart lies. That is where the Metha’s honor lives.
The Metha is no good. He is, in fact, useless.