Young Men and the Pressure of Tradition

As a young Oshiwambo-speaking man, or ‘Vambo’ if I may, I can say there is a significant amount of traditional pressure on young men, particularly of the Ovakwanyama clan.

As you approach the age of 30, elders start imposing on marital issues one may not have had as part of one’s top five ambitions for the short term.

Should marriage have taken place, then it becomes: “When are you buying a house?”

Or: “When are you having kids?”

Or: “When are you making your own traditional home/farm?”

All of these questions await us as we advance in years. In my experience growing up, three homes are deemed ‘acceptable’ for a family man.

These are all properties that require financial upkeep. Regrettably so, I sometimes wish my parents were not so typical, so I can do as I please and become a mbwiti (someone who is out of touch with their heritage).

It is sad the pressure young Vambo men, or even Bantu men as a whole, have on their shoulders.

It is me.

It is I.

I am him.

I am the young ‘Vambo’ man whose weight is increased with imposing questions on where I stand with my future.

Should none of this be done at an age considered right, which is early on in your adult life, then you are seen as a coward, a failure, and even if you have a master’s or PhD degree it becomes irrelevant.

Unfortunately, we are black, Bantu for that matter, and we need to do as our parents say, otherwise bad luck follows us.

I am not sure about other tribes or races, however, we grew up being told that disrespecting our elders brings about spirits of bad luck which will follow us, because we’ve angered the ancestors.

Whether or not this is true, one thing is for sure – it keeps unruly behaviour at bay.

An uncle of mine once said he doesn’t pay mind to someone with a university degree as much as he does to someone who is familiar with the culture.

The dos and don’ts.

He values someone who is familiar with the clan, instead of someone who calculates X, bankers, lawyers, you name any profession.

At some point he may be right, if you think about it.

Our parents expect way too much from us.

Our lifestyles are totally different from theirs. Our generation is made in Italy, let’s say Gucci, and they were made in Bangladesh, let’s say Puma.

Both brands are quality, but one is overpriced and a status brand, while the other is affordably priced and offers value for money.

They got married young, had children around their early 20s, and so on.

This while we are so indecisive about women, we want to be in the streets a bit longer. We are scared of commitment, thinking short term.

Our minds are programmed for lau-lau.

Toppa, laat ons gaan-goeters.

If I remember well, my dad bought things from a scrapyard many years ago, and my siblings and I used to play on it, not knowing that the room I sleep in right now is built out of that material.

While some things may have subconsciously caused our adult selves harm, the reality is that some things can only be healed in traditional ways.

I say this to say that perhaps aligning to what we are asked of by the elders is the long-term answer.

Just perhaps.

– Meneer_SK is an advocate for men’s grooming and all matters relating to men. Follow him on Instagram @Meneer_SK

Stay informed with The Namibian – your source for credible journalism. Get in-depth reporting and opinions for only N$85 a month. Invest in journalism, invest in democracy –
Subscribe Now!