chapter  2
African Accomplishments before the European Encounter
Pages 16

The term tradition has its roots in the Latin word, traditio, meaning to ‘hand down.’ Thus, we employ the term here to connote customs, beliefs and opinions that have been handed down from generation to generation. The eloquent Africanist, Kwame Gyekye (1997) defines tradition to include the ‘values, practices, outlooks, and institutions’ that one generation within any given society inherits from the generation(s) that preceded it. Gyekye further attempts to distinguish between the terms tradition and culture. He sees tradition as comprising a set of cultural practices that have survived through several generations. In other words, the distinction between the two concepts is duration, although he does not specify how many generations a cultural practice would have to survive to become a tradition. I use both terms in the context of the present discussion interchangeably.