“A child has no wisdom, only potential. It is up to their fathers to give them wisdom so they may grow.”
– A northern Bantu proverb.
The relationship between godchild and godparent is a very important affair. The survival of our respective traditions depends upon the effective teaching and training of godchildren – of which everyone, regardless of what title or rank we hold, are. There is a frightening trend that seems to only be getting worse as time goes by, and that is the trend of not properly educating those who wind up at your door step. All that this does is waste the time and potential of the respective parties, and only serves to degrade our traditions.
Something that I have been hearing for quite a while is that the parents won’t properly raise their children for fear that the child will outshine the parent. This is ridiculous. We could all only hope that someone we raised grew to be a spectacular priest, filled with a great depth of knowledge, understanding, and good character. If a godparent is not striving to make someone at least their equal – then the time of both parties is wasted. If they are not trying to have their child outshine them, then we are wasting our future. The true genius of all godchildren may very well not be being a priest or an educator. Some godchildren may not grasp some concepts as quickly. Some people may very obviously be in it for selfish purposes. However, it is up to the godparent to assist them through these problems and evolve. There is always a reason, whether obvious or not, that the person wound up in your house.
Also, would be godparents, make sure to not treat your godchildren like welfare and food stamps. Yes, we all pay (and are paid) for our services – but having god kids is not only about your making money. Collecting godchildren for cash may make you rich…but you are ultimately acting like a predator when you do this. When you have 50 godchildren – how can you ensure that any of them are going to receive the proper education? How can you ensure that secrets, customs, practices, and details are properly handed down to the next generation? Wonder why many people say that many important points of knowledge are lost? Religion is not a business, spirituality is not a business, and abusing the people your spirits send you is only betraying your spirits. What they give can be taken away, and there really isn’t a heck of a lot you can do to fix that quickly. Just because someone needs something for their spiritual growth does not mean they need it now. They need it when your spirits – and the godchild, demonstrate that they are ready for it, and not because you want to buy a flat screen TV. All parties involved will thank you for it when you make the right choice.
Would be godparents, if your introduction to your tradition was a few months ago, and you are now setting up shop to make godchildren of your own – do not do it. You do not know enough and have not adjusted to what has just happened to you. You probably do not have the knowledge, restraint, or wisdom needed to bring others up. Just because you have the mandate to do so, does not make it correct to do so. You will only make yourself and your godchildren look foolish in the end. Just because your initiation was expensive does not mean that you get to earn some fast cash to fill your bank account with. Being a priest does not qualify you to be someone’s elder.
So would be godparents – and those of you who are playing games with god kids – remember that your religion is not about you. It is about the spirits that you are beholden to and the betterment of the world around you. It is about what happens in the future. If as a community we do not decide to take a stand and do what is right, then in 100 years, our religions may only be a pale shadow of what they are now. They could die altogether. Our communities are growing – but let us do so with dignity.
Tata Nkisi Lucero Vira Mundo
Editor’s note: The future of the Palo community very much is in danger as we speak and perhaps in less than 10 years we will see how our Nsos continue to degradate unless serious meassures are taken.
–Yaya 7 Nkele.