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In ethics, value denotes something degree of importance, with the aim of determining what
action or life is best to do or live, or at least attempt to describe the value of different actions. It
may be described as treating actions themselves as abstract objects, putting value to them. It
deals with right conduct and good life, in the sense that a highly, or at least relatively highly,
valuable action may be regarded as ethically ―good‖ (Adjective sense), and an action of low,
or at least relatively low, value may be regarded as ―bad‖. (Wikipedia)
Values are important and lasting beliefs or ideals shared by the members of a culture about what
are good and desirable. Values have major influences on people‘s behaviours and attitudes and
serve as broad guidelines in all situations. (
Tradition can be defined as pertinent, lasting beliefs, culture and rituals among a society, passed
down from one generation to another imbued with the concrete or abstract qualities or
injunctions that are regarded as supernatural from God, gods, goddesses, heroes, legends,
humans, animals and plants. They include symbolic representations and activities in events,
festivals and rituals comparable with the sacred activities of the – Asaa Traditional Festival of
Nkpologue (Ezugu 6).
Traditional Values:
Traditional Values are those physical or abstract qualities possessed by particular elements,
events, rituals or phenomena held in high-esteem, respect and obedience by individuals. Such
values govern and regulate the physical and psychological behavior of individuals living in a
particular culture or a geographical area.
Africans as we know are a resilient people, and over time they have developed value systems
and ways of coping with life and maintain their communities and to survive great hardships
either in the African continent or in the Diaspora. The traditional life of the clan in most tribes of
Africa has, as its core value, protection of the family and perpetuation of the tribe. In his
traditional life the African holds certain things to be of great value. It is these values which give
him a distinct cultural personality and enable him to make some contributions to world
knowledge, history, philosophy and civilization. It is not my task in this study to articulate all the
cultural values of the African, but only the dominant ones.
Large Family:
One of the foremost traditional values of the African is having a large family. Children are of
supreme value to the African. His primary purpose for marriage is children and to have as many
of them as possible. This is the reason why polygamy or the union of one man with several
women still holds great attraction for him, and also why the birth rate in Africa is among the
highest in the world. The fact is that the African still counts his blessings by the number of
children he has, whether they are educated or not, rich or poor, healthy or sick, well-fed or
hungry. The African smiles at the sight of his numerous children and is unmoved at the turmoil
at his gate as he has a lot of arrows in his quivers.(Seo Ogbonmwan, 2008).
Respect for elders:
Another great value in traditional Africa is respect for old people (―Senior Citizen‖), particularly
one‘s parents, grandparents and relatives. The elders are revered by the young as the grey hair is
associated with wisdom and God‘s blessings. The respect and honour bestowed on the ancestors
percolate through the old people—one‘s parents, grandparents and other relatives—as living
embodiments of wisdom and of the good moral life who are expected sooner or later to join other
good ancestors in the land of the ―living dead‖. Old age therefore is an important value to the
African. Even the children look forward to old age unlike now when hormones are being taken to
remain forever young. (Seo Ogbonmwan, 2008)
Morning Salutation:
As part of the respect for elders, the Benin people of southern Nigeria have a unique way of
respecting their elders and identifying their family of origin people say La tose (Edohen of
Benin), La emore (Eni of Uzae(Ijare) , La Umogun (Royal blood from Eweka 1) La Ogiesan
(Ezomo of Benin) of which there are 56 of them in total. These salutations are in electronic from
at (
Worship of Ancestor:
―Igba Evo‖- A day when special homage is paid to all ancestors. ―Igo Idi and Ihe Nshi‖, that is,
sacrificing to the dead priests and elders of the clan in commemoration of their past roles as
keepers of the conscience of the clan when they were alive. ―Ahor Nna‖, on this day, Ahor,
everyone whose father (Nna) is dead, sacrifices to him to enlist his help and protection. (Ezugu
The worship of our ancestors is the basis for the honour and respect accorded to old people in the
traditional Africa culture is their closeness to the ancestors, for in his, ontological conceptual
scheme the African places his old relatives on his great hierarchy of beings.
It must be noted that in the African universe the living and the dead interact with one another.
Life goes on beyond the grave for the African and is a continuous action and interaction with
dead relatives.
These unseen ancestors called ―the living dead‖ become part of one‘s living family and often are
invited to partake though spiritually in the family meals. The ancestors are not just ghosts, nor
are they simply dead heroes, but are felt to be still present watching over the household, directly
concerned in all the affairs of the family and property, giving abundant harvests and fertility and
warding off enemies at the village gate.
Extended Family Unit:
Another important traditional value of the modern African is love for, and practice of, the
extended family system.
This extended family system is widely practiced in Africa. Indeed it is one ―in which everybody
is linked with all the other members, living or dead, through a complex network of spiritual
relationship into a kind of mystical body‖ consequently, it is not just ―being‖ that the African
values, ―being-with-others‖ or ―being rooted in kinship‖ is an equally important existential
characteristic of the African. He is never isolated since several persons are assimilated into one
parental role: his father‘s brother are assimilated b extension into the role of father, his mother‘s
sisters into the role of mother, his patri-lateral uncle‘s daughters into the role of sister. A person
is an individual to the extent that he is a member of a family, aa clan or community. (Seo
Ogbonmwan, 2008).
Sacredness of Life:
The African does not like or nurture violence per se. this is because shedding of blood is
sacrilegious. In Achebe‘s Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo goes into exile with his family, for seven
years to atone, for inadvertently killing a clansman- a crime against the earth goddess. In Africa,
people are never killed unless it is an act of war. In the past were those whose continued
existence as a threat to the life of others and to the peace of the community were usually sold
into slavery.
Traditional African Religion
To the African, religion is of indispensable value. ―To be‖ for him is to be religious‖ as religion
truly permeates his total life, there is for him no ―Secular‖ existence or naturalistic vision of
world order. In this important way also, the African exhibits a cultural personality distinct from
that of western man, for instance, who easily makes a radical distinction between the secular and
the religious, natural and the supernatural, this world and the next. Apart from ancestral things
that are awesome or humans that have been inspiring or transcendental like the sun, the moon,
the river, the earth, etc.
Communal Work
Preparation for Onwa-Asaa festival (Ezugu 5). The African values communal work as an
opportunity to share his skills and give his best to his age group and the community. In the
preparation of the bush for farming, the age group members arrange a date to assist Mr. A and
the following day assist Mr. B in bush clearing, bush burning, bush gathering, planting, pruning
and harvesting without money changing hands. This practice will hardly disappear in tradition
African communities.
This refers to past-traditional, past-medieval historical period, one marked by the move from
Feudalism (Or Agrarianism) toward Capitalism, Industrialization, Secularization,
Rationalization, the nation-state and its constituent institutions and forms of surveillance.(Barker
2005, 444).
In these usages, ―Modernity‖ denotes the renunciation of the recent past, favouring a new
beginning, and a reinterpretation of historical origin. The distinction between ―Modernity‖ and
―Modern‖ did not arise until the 19th century (Delanty 2007).
As the African passes from folk to urban society, life with its complicated money economy, high
technology and international trade, his traditional values are bound to be affected. Old values
disappear; some are refined in other cases some traditional values suffer disruption, at times to
the point of extinction; in yet other cases the African suffers a reversal of his traditional values;
lastly he creates altogether new values with consequent tensions.
Some of these values are:
Increase in population, in the face of the world wide economic crisis, makes some parents
neglect the traditional education of their children and the latter, have no opportunity to appreciate
traditional ways in life. Therefore, Western education forms the bedrock of knowledge and skills
to equip such persons in their pursuit of a better world.
In our days, we notice that, the world is becoming a kind of village in which there is a wide
interaction between people and other different cultures. This phenomenon happens thanks to the
new technologies. People have today the possibility to be aware of what is happening all around
the world. They also have the opportunity to discover other cultures, other ways of life and
behaviours thanks to the radio, television and other various means of communication like the
Old people (Grandfathers and Mothers) are no longer those persons, who educate Children by
means of stories, tales and so on; they are most the time seen as boring and talkative. Children
spend most of their time playing video games, browsing with their mobile phones, watching
television; they are fond of films through which they discover some actors that they admire a lot,
and at times enjoy bad influences and pornography.
The institution of Marriage was highly valued by all the traditional cultures in Africa. To a large
extent, especially in the rural areas, it is highly valued even today. The reason for this is that
marriage is the foundation on which families are built. On its part, the family constitutes the
basic social group that operates most widely and most intensely in the activities of everyday life.
Human Life
Human life is highly valued in the modern world, as well as it was in the traditional African
communities. In all other cases, no one is allowed to take away another person‘s life. In fact, no
distinction is made between murder and manslaughter; both are considered murder.
Morality is a quality highly valued by all traditional communities. Indeed, moral values formed
the bedrock of the education that was given to children as they grow up. Moral values were also
impressed on people who were about to Wed or who were going through one rite of passage to
another. Leaders were also expected to be people of upright character. All these are cherished
even today.
The word ―Tradition‖ itself derives from the Latin‖ tradere‖ or‖ traderer‖ literally meaning to
transmit, to hand over, to give for safekeeping.
A tradition is a belief, principle or way of behaviour of a particular people, passed down within a
group or society with symbolic meaning or important significance that originated in the past.
Common examples include holidays or impractical but socially meaningful clothes ( Like
Lawyer wigs or Military officer spurs) but the idea has also been applied to social norms such as
anthropology and biology, have adapted the term ―Tradition‖, defining it more precisely than its
conventional use in order to facilitate scholarly discourse.
The concept of tradition, as the notion of holding on to a previous time, is also found in political
and philosophical discourse. For example, the political concept of traditionalism is based around
it, as are strands of many world religions including traditional Catholicism. (Wikipedia)
Modernity typically refers to a post-traditional, post-medieval historical period, one marked by
the move from Feudalism (Or Agrarianism) toward Capitalism, Industrialization, Secularization,
Nationalization, the nation-state and its constituent institutions and forms of surveillance (Barker
Charles Pierre Baudelaire is credited with coining the term ―Modernity‖ (Modernite) to designate
the fleeting, ephemeral experience of life in an urban metropolis, and the responsibility art has to
capture that experience.
Conceptually, modernity relates to the modern era and to modernism, but forms a distinct
Whereas the Enlightenment (ca. 1650-1800) invokes a specific movement in Western
philosophy, modernity tends to refer only to the social relations associated with the rise of
Capitalism. Modernity may also refer to tendencies in intellectual culture, particularly the
movements intertwined with Secularization and post-Industrial life, such as Marxism,
existentialism and the formal establishment of social science.
The aim of this research is to rejuvenate or rekindle interest in African traditional and modern
values in the works of Asare Konadu and Ama Ata Aidoo, namely: A Woman In Her Prime and
Changes, in a bid to entrench core African values that appear to be waning.
This study is as well as limited to the novels of Asare Konadu and Ama Ata Aidoo, namely:
• A Woman in Her Prime and
• Changes
Other sources used include: textbooks, journals, essays, internet facilities, and personal
contributions based on observations, studies, and private interviews.
This work is salient in the sense that it explores African values in traditional and modern sense,
which are still the foundation of existence till today.
This work, will in addition, serve as a means of enlightenment to the present generation and the
The methodology adopted in this research is purely literary, analytical, comparative, as well as
contrastive as a means of highlighting typical African traditional values in comparison with what
present day modern values appear to be – – some of which are acceptable, since society is
dynamic. Occasionally one comes across the so called modern values that are aberrations, copied
from foreign sources that run counter to African values.


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