By Stellamaris Ashinze
When Stella’s daughter requested to take her out for moonlight games on a Saturday, the daughter was startled.
Stella rightly guessed that the child had thought that moonlight games are played at recreational centres.
Stella regretted that the child could not differentiate moonlight games from amusement, cinema or other recreational activities that characterise modern life.
“My child is disadvantaged when it comes to moonlight games and associated folklore which contributed to sharpening the older generation,’’ she murmured.
Stella’s child is one out of thousands of Nigerian children disconnected from folklore — traditional stories, customs of an area or country — which are associated with moonlight games.
Irrespective of the trend, a retired teacher, Mrs Veronica Azu, recalled that there was a timetable for storytelling in the school curriculum in the past.
According to her, storytelling promotes morals among children, provokes brotherly love and presents a good platform for learning, observing that children always looked forward to having such a period of storytelling.
“Some moral lessons from such stories have remained with us, but what we have now are children glued to television sets, watching cartoons on television statations such as Nickelodeon, Disney Junior, JimJam or playing video games and browsing on the internet.
“The question now is which of these two scenarios is preferable?’’ Azu, a former teacher at the Local Government Primary School, Abaranje Road, Ikotun, Lagos, asks.
According to Mr Adebola Adebayo, a civil servant, folklore is preferable.
“It makes children to be innovative, responsible and self-reliant; moonlight and other outdoor games make children to play with their environment.
“I remember flying a kite that we made with papers and thread; we even built trains and cars with empty tins and cork.
“This is technology; using things in the environment to create things that we played with; this gave us satisfaction. It was innovative.
“I can’t remember the last time I saw a child flying a kite outside which was one of the greatest funs we had in my childhood days.
“The fun experienced when you see your handwork flying in the sky is intoxicating,’’ he says.
Adebayo argues that such outdoor games made children more sensible and smarter in those days.
He notes that adult were always watching over the children then and raising alarms when they observed any suspicious moves.
Mr Yomi Odu, a lecturer in the History Department of the Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, Ijanikin, Lagos, agrees that folklore has gone to extinction, blaming it on scrapping of history as a subject.
Odu also blames the extinction on advancement in technology which gives rise to television, internet and use of phone that holds people’s attention for long and discourages storytelling.
“Many people are now glued to their phones and television,’’ he observes.
He equally blames the extinction of folklore and moonlight games on economic challenges which force many parents to spend much time looking for money and having little or no time to spend with their children.
The lecturer notes that folklore and moonlight games were trendy from early 1960s to 1990s.
“We were told history of families and communities especially in the evenings; that are what we call folklore.
He regrets that interactions and bonding brought about by folklore are no more.
“Families are drifting away, and once there is no family bonding, there is bound to be social insecurity,’’ he observes.
He observes further that most of the tales during moonlight aims at correcting social ills, developing culture and promoting values and patriotism.
“Folklore helped Africans to rewrite their history but they are no more.
Odu is, however, hopeful that folklore can be revived if Nigeria can emulate China and India which cherish their culture and base their new technologies on their culture.
“In China today, the national television educates them on their culture and crafts.
“If television programmes such as Tales by Moonlight and Story Land by Jimi Solanke can be revived, they will go a long way to bring back family bonding and inter-group relations, improve security and societal values,’’ he says.
The don adds that folklore and outdoor games help in psycho motor development of children and calls for re-introduction of history in the secondary school curriculum.
Mr Simeon Fowowe, Head of Department Early Childhood Care Education (ECCE), Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, also agrees that the essence of folklore is to inculcate culture and moral values in children.
“That is why some of us appreciate our culture and try as much as possible to hand it down to our children.
“Since the emergence of computers and television, the whole world became a global village; you can be in your sitting room and see the whole world.
“There is no disadvantage in folklore; instead we were groomed in our culture, groomed in native intelligence. It enables you to speak your native language.
“Indigenous folklore or folktale or legend is tied to indigenous cultures.
“Since the emergence of computers and television, the whole world becomes a global village; you can be in your sitting room and see the whole world,’’ he says.
“Technology and culture can be synergised; let parents search for television stations where indigenous culture, myths and legend are promoted. They should then begin to occasionally explain to their children.
The don adds outdoor plays are fundamental in the learning process, saying that early childhood play is a topic in education.
Analysts, therefore, insist that inculcation of moral and cultural values in Nigerian children through folklore will go a long way to fortify them with the identity, better mindset and behaviour they need to be patriotic Nigerians.