Our Elders’ Values Stop the ‘Deconstruction’ of the World

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Fr Pedro Pablo Hernández MCCJ

The topic of the thesis I am writing for my specialization in social communication is entitled “The Guji of Ethiopia and their concept of God in the oral tradition”, in which I underline the importance of the wisdom transmitted by the parents, elders and ancestors, and the relevance it still has for the younger generations to maintain their cultural identity and the richness of values.

In the first chapter of the Encyclical letter “Fratelli Tutti”, Pope Francis, describes the “Dark clouds over a close world” in which so many people live under, facing all types of conflicts and receiving all kind of proposals that go against their dignity and the experience of living God’s love. I was glad to read here that the Pope makes un direct invitation to the young people not to be misled with other kind of values and not to loose their sense of history that leads to a a kind of ‘deconstructionism’. Instead, he tells them, not to reject the experience of the elders and not to look down on the past, so that they would remain strong in their values and not become an easy prey of destroying ideologies (FT 13). To avoid this, an emphasis on the richness of their own values is needed.

The Guji people in the south of Ethiopia, like every culture in the wold, also have a treasures of values that they transmit orally to their children and can be share with other cultures. One place or moment in which one can identify them is when they pray. Mostly, Guji people pray for life; a long life in a person is the symbol that God’s grace protects him and God blesses him. Secondly, they pray for peace for it is the external condition in the family and the society to grow together and develop mostly in the areas of fertility and richness.

Here, below, I would like to share with you a prayer held by the traditional leaders during a thanksgiving sacrifice, noticing the kind of values or anti values they mention while talking to God:

God, give me life.

If I live, I may have cattle.

If I live, I may get many children.

God give me life.

Let me not live in vain.

(meaning without cattle or children)

Protect me from persecution.

Deliver me from thieves

for I myself do not steal the property of others.

Protect me from those who come to take my properties.

God, provide the basin to quench my thirst in front of me,

provide good opportunities in front of me,

hold me from liars and talkative people.

Provide a container full of milk in front of me,

Provide me with a  good road (show it to me).   

Provide plenty of cups of milk on my journey.

Show me the good omens to continue,

From all kind of envy, deliver me.

Provide a container full of milk in front of me.

I make the sacrifice as an offering, take it!

God, I take blood and anoint my forehead in your name.

In your name, I cut the throat

Now, in your name, I slaughter it.

God give me life.

Let me not live in vain.

I hope the Guji youth and all the youth of the wold may be able to listen to the words of their parents and to take at heart their values to be able to face the challenges of the word that presented in this Encyclical.

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