The role of African culture and tradition in environmental sustainability

In this recent times, environmental sustainability has become a global concern because the effects of some environmental activities do not respect international boundaries. All the three main religions in Ghana (Christianity, Islam, and African Tradition), in one way or the other teaches on the need to protect our environment.

Many Christians and Muslims see the traditional believers to be wicked, calling them all sort of names you can think of and that they should not be tolerated in our societies. It is therefore common to see and hear many Christians and Muslims preach against traditional religion for reasons best known to themselves. Either good or bad, we should cultivate and embrace the habit of effective environmental protection which knowingly or unknowingly were preached by our very own still existing traditional religion.

Our cultures are associated with important traditional practices and prohibitions (taboos) which encourage friendly environmental behaviour and healthy living. The strong belief in such forbidden practices were very well respected to the extent that, it compelled the citizenry to do the right thing because of the seriously enforced physical and spiritual punishments that were attached to such laws or common practices.

The importance of such traditional practices were to allow the land, water bodies to gain rest, fertility and also give the farmers, hunters and fishermen the chance to rest, getting ready for an optimistic great future harvest. There were some forest reserves where farming or any form of human activities were totally prohibited. This and many more cultural practices were basically laid down or put into practice by our forefathers to protect our environment and they make a lot of sense.

Fast forward today, human threat to species and the ecosystem at large are the greatly recorded in recent history. Surprisingly, all of these threats are caused by human mismanagement of our biological resources, often stimulated by misguided economic policies and faulty governmental institutions. Further noting, our supposed ‘civilized religions’ have done nothing positive to curb this menace of environmental threat.

The fading out of traditional beliefs and practices are the repercussions we see today. Deforestation, polluting of water bodies, Illegal Mining (otherwise known in Ghana as ‘Galamsey’), open defecation, illegal and improper sand winning, use of strange chemicals in fishing (other than ordinary causes of defecating in our bodies, et al), fumes of exhaust/industries as technology grows, are the actual cankers compromising our natural environment. Undoubtedly, all these pose health related diseases which forms part of our high rate mortality. Modernisation seem to be the killer name. Our African tradition curbed this canker without fear or favor.

Humankind is part of nature and the World has a value for human heritage. The wellbeing of the future generation is a social responsibility of the present generation. Hence, the existence of organisms warrant conservation of these organisms.

Whether you are a Christian or Muslim, the effective way of protecting the environment by traditional religious beliefs and practices must be adopted to ensure environmental sustainability. Together, we can attain environmental sustainability but without the relegation of African traditional beliefs and customs that sought to both sustain and improve the environment.

Written by: Adam Alale Moses

About the writer:

Adam Alale Moses (Mr) is a registered writer at Daily News/Gh. As a writer, he has expertise in opinion and feature writings. Contact: 0242431970

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