A PHILOSOPHICAL APPRAISAL ON THE IGBO TRADITIONAL SYSTEM OF CHILD UPBRINGING, VIS-À-VIS THE CONTEMPORARY SYSTEM. A RESEARCH PROJECT MATERIAL ON PHILOSOPHY
There seems to be universal law of preservation and conservation in nature. Rock, seas, minerals, plants, animals and man; all endure because of this universal law of nature. For instance, animals of both higher and lower species that breach this natural law risk extinction, as the other animals will prey on them. Hence, all species, genus, genders, classes and families preserve their own. In man (the higher animal), this law is particularly fundamental because it is tied to the conservation of his own existence and physical well-being. The care of his offspring is a basic inclination natural to man and is a divine commission. Therefore, the first law of nature is self-preservation and the society preserves itself by ‘preserving’ and training the children, for without them, society is as good as dead. And as such, any society that negates or in any way impede the progress of child raising, likewise the family, is carrying in its womb the bomb for its destruction, for the growth of the society is founded on the growth of families. Parents in larger proportion owe to the society and indeed to mankind, the duty of raising up their children properly, because members of society work mutually to promote its progress and so safeguard the common good.1 Proper raising up of children is a way of maintaining the continued existence or preservation of human species. As a result of this, proper attention should be paid towards it, lest humankind is extinct.
The task of raising children in my own view is the greatest responsibility on earth, and therefore, should not be left for the parents alone. It should be a joint project that includes every person. In Igbo culture, child is referred to as ‘Our child’ – ‘Nwa anyi’, ‘Nwa ora’, and meaning community child. Therefore, child up bringing is neither the sole responsibility of the parents, the maids, nannies, nor the school teachers. Rather, it is a collective affair, since the child is: ‘Nwa ora’ – community child”2. In Igbo society, as well as in African communities, the birth of a child brings joy and celebration to the community. This celebration is community-based, not family-based. This shows that not only the immediate family of a child that thinks good of the child, the community as well thinks. Community, together with the parents preserves itself from extinction through importing good moral values, cultures and ethos into the child who will in turn do same to his/her on-coming progeny.