The Challenge of Striking a Balance Between Tradition and ‘Modernity’

The Challenge of Striking a Balance Between Tradition and ‚ÄėModernity‚Äô

By Adamu Tilde

There‚Äôs a fundamentally flawed, contrived, biased and forced rhetoric that views ‚Äúmodernity‚ÄĚ as inherently incompatible with tradition(s). Put differently, pristine culture and tradition(s) are in mutually exclusive relationship with ‚Äúmodernity.‚ÄĚ

This unscientific view, perhaps, has credence largely because of our inability to wean ourselves from our colonial past; of course our unwillingness to evolve in thought and psyche is another factor, too.

It is an undeniable fact that there have been- and still there are- efforts through the use of brutal force, dissemination of distorted information and misrepresentation of reality in Hollywood and other cable news, pseudo-scientific pronouncements to equate Western Liberal Democracy to ‚Äúmodernity‚ÄĚ. It has reached a stage so much that to talk of ‚Äúmodernity‚ÄĚ nowadays is to talk of LGBT rights, women rights (whatever that means), rebellious children et cetera et cetera.

In an attempt to shield ‚Äėourselves‚Äô from the so-called Western Liberal Democracy (read modernity) influence, we threw our natural evolution of humankind away as garbage.

What we are facing today, in my opinion, are the crises of identity. We are totally confused and dispossessed. We are neither Easterners (in the truest sense of the term), nor Westerners nor Africans. We are just swinging and hanging- Easterners in spirituality, Westerners in thoughts and Africans in reality. Who are we?

Striking a balance between these seemingly contrasting (at times, contradicting) identities has been a Herculean task to many African Intellectuals to overcome. Ali Mazrui’s Triple Heritage comes to mind.

For those that seek spiritual guidance from the Eastern tradition, left to me, there’s no cause for alarm. For the whole of the world has been created and subjected to serve the humankind. In addition to that, wisdom (you can call it knowledge) becomes a lost she-camel of a believer- wherever he finds it; he should grab it for it belongs to him.

To exert my identity, I don‚Äôt have to have an antagonistic stand with everything the West represents. For example, Liberal West is largely identified with monogamy and ‚Äėfreedom‚Äô. There‚Äôs nothing strange if today I choose to be monogamous, inasmuch as I don‚Äôt contradict or go against the codes of my traditional ethic.

The dichotomisation of the world into the ‚ÄúHouse of Belief‚ÄĚ and that of the ‚ÄúKufr‚ÄĚ is uncalled for. There‚Äôs no contradiction in being a renowned surgeon and a mullah at the same time. One can be a distinguished literary critic as well an Imam in the ‚ÄėHaramyn‚Äô. ¬†Myself being the ‚ÄúAssisted Reproduction Techniques‚ÄĚ specialist that I am does not exclude me from also being a ‚ÄėMufassir‚Äô. The two are not mutually exclusive.

If I’d be permitted to offer some hackneyed suggestions, I’d do that. We have to evolve in our thoughts. We have to learn to appreciate knowledge in all ramifications. We must also partake in making the world a better place through meaningful contributions in science, technology, arts and social sciences. We must, as a matter of necessity, equip ourselves with tools that would help us sieve between what are purely scientific findings and what are Western hegemonies and/or have Satanic tendencies.


Adamu Tilde can be reached on

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