How Banyankore instilled discipline in children through folklore (false beliefs).

How Banyankore instilled discipline in children through folklore (false beliefs).

If you are a true Munyankore you will remember things like “if you sweep at night, you will get married very far” or “if you sit on a cooking stone (ihega), your mother will die” and many others.


All these were not true but were fabricated by our parents to maintain discipline and self regulation among children.


For example the tale about sweeping at night was specifically meant for girls because they were the ones charged with performing house chores which included sweeping the house. They were told that if you sweep at night you will be married very far and this was one of the most feared occurrences in Ancient Ankole. Parents always wanted their daughters to get married near first of all because neighbouring families knew each other very well and secondly for easy monitoring of their daughters while in marriage.


So this tale was simply meant to control unnecessary loss in the house. Because at night one cannot see well, it means that while sweeping one would end up sweeping along some valuable household items like stitching needles (empitirizo) or even money without seeing them. So it was better to sweep during the day when one can clearly see what they are sweeping.


About sitting on the cooking stone, it is clear that parents wanted to minimise risks of falling into the fire because of all the places in the house, why would someone choose to sit on a cooking stone if not looking for danger. But because the parents would not be in the kitchen every time to monitor children, the only best way was to put up a concocted belief which children would easily adhere to. Because for any child, loosing a mother due to mere recklessness would be avoided by any means.


For the twins, they were prohibited from eating twined banana fingers (empasha) saying that if one twin ate them, he or she would be eating their fellow twin. Yes, this was not true but it had a significance of sharing. It was meant to tell the twin that if you were eating and found “empasha”, you are supposed to separate it and give one piece to your fellow twin. And it was also meant to control greed amongst children.


The other belief was that sitting on a grinding stone (orubengo) would cause the death of one’s mother. Ofcourse your mother would not die, but it was another trick meant to teach children morals.


In the ancient Ankole, a grinding stone was a very important item. It is where family food (millet) was prepared and therefore sitting on it was prohibited because it was expected to be clean and preserved.


There are very many other beliefs that our parents used to tell us but all these were intentional to teach us morals and minimise risk of loss and destruction by children.


Ankole parents knew that they would not follow the child everywhere and therefore the best way was to put up these beliefs such that a child would fear to do the prohibited things even in the absence of their parents or elders.


Unlike the traditional culture, today’s children grow up without any prohibitions and parents think they can monitor them in everything which is impossible. This is why raising up a morally upright child in the current generation is quite challenging.


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