Through the African Prism. Part II
African authentic culture is impacted negatively from many sides, and is a complex dilemma. The first and primary agent, which imposes this is the dominance of European culture, which first came via slavery, then colonialism and apartheid. It always asserted itself by diminishing the value (socially and institutionally) of African culture.
It was in Europe’s interest to create cultural orphans who worshiped all things European, thus making better subjects who had ambitions of approaching whiteness.
Taking European names, language and dress ascended things of African origin, and thus secured the notion of African inferiority. Religion compounded this because now the image of divinity was the European cultural ideals, the church in Africa centered its gospel around the striving for spiritual reward and attaining heaven and not the dignity of man in his deals with his fellow man, or equality before the divine thrown of the all loving god and creator of all things and life. African Christianity or better still the version taught to Africans was of being obedient to your master, and not to revolve or challenge our masters or question the church. The church suddenly forgot to preach to Africans that bible says in 3 John1:2 “beloved, I pray you to prosper concerning all things and to be in good health, just as your soul prospers” the church in Africa conveniently at that time forgot to mention prospering and advancing in all things (politically, technologically etc.,), which begs me to ask as professor Lumumba will say “are we children of a lesser god”? On the Islamic side there was less of an impact because, Islam mainly spread through African agents wielding African culture but at the time when African culture started being anemic as to the clash of fusion to ideologies alien to them, this created situation that left them in no man’s land and easy to misdirect every turn.
Two concepts lie at the center of all this mayhem; consumerism and monetization/commercialization of any and everything, a wonderful form of interaction and exchange of ideas and economics in itself, those concepts were not only alien to the continent but set in motion the process for the stagnation of Africa as the trust, kinship, and communal ties on which the societies were based overnight were replaced by an insatiable quest to acquire and own consumables material things from Europe along with money, thus elevating commercial considerations for a civilization still in the barter trade stage of economic development. These concepts eroded centuries old ties, relations and respect between brothers, families, and communities.
Now every commodity that was shared or bartered had a price, but worse was the monetization and commercialization of culture, values and traditions, riches and prestige which in some societies of Africa depended on how much cows or other herds a family owns, or the size of arable land it possesses along with the amount of harvest the farmer can bring home, or the size of the family or clan population wise (as more number meant more manpower to cultivate more land) lost relevance as a measure of status in the community. Now your status to a large extent depended on how much of the Whiteman’s (European) items you can possess, so critical foundations of society such as morality, and dignity of labour were over time relegated to the backwaters since, if one can amass enough currencies form being a servant/slave or carrying out rudimentary tasks for the colonialists either as labourers in the mines or plantations, or domestic servants such a person can possess the status symbols of Europeans such as clothes, cars, electronics etc. and be at the top of African society and since the majority of African cultures are communal as oppose to individualistic, this difference creates entirely different paradigm and behaviors. This communal root spills over to inform notions of "human rites" and ethics. All of these factors are interwoven in the fabric of Africa's quilt of cultures this led to a shattering of the constituting components that would have led to advancement and development of Africa/Africans into a million pieces and When the culture of a people fails, or is made to fail by an external oppression, they will absorb and replace what is lost with the culture available usually the culture of their oppressors. When a people experience a trauma, it causes the natural cultural defenses to weaken and this allows in new cultural components from the strongest source. As studies have shown humans, regardless of race, are just human biological blanks, we absorb the culture that we are settled in. Arabs are Arabs because of Arabic culture. A genetic Arab raised in a strong Jamaican culture, with no reference to their Arabic roots, will be Jamaican. This is why community is a fundamental component in the shaping and retaining the cultural character of any community
Let’s try and sum everything up into an identity crisis for an entire continent, first as the gradual halt in the Africa civilization set in there was also a gradual replacing of African values with “enlighten European ideas” based on the “politically correct” ideals of Europe.
“Political correctness sometimes avoids a full disclosure on other people's culture, while racist attitudes assume that what is standard in the West should be standard for everyone”- Alik Shahadah. the problem was twofold some of this European values contradicted African values since Africa’s values has not yet evolved on its own course and speed up to where our more ”enlighten” partner or masters (make your pick) where at or wanted, this disruption led to the process of replacement or attempted replacement of those values with theirs, the second aspect is the values reception/adopted, without much review or domesticating, Africans swallowed an entire alien culture hook line and sinker.
This course was bound to have a blowback which can be best described as being completely lost and spending much time and resources chasing frivolous ideas, schemes or items, as all these misplaced priorities were imbedded in education, either the British system, American system, French system or any other as is used in the colonialist homeland, or governance whether a parliamentary democracy or a presidential democratic system, medicine, religion, lifestyle etc Africans were crazed with anything and all things foreign all in a bid to be elevated to the “politically correct” standards of the Europeans of which they cannot realistically attain because there is no one accepted template to get to that goal, also the absence of one unifying central factor, theme, believe, or anything of such that attracts, usually an ideology, which concentrates all efforts and resources of the people and state(s) to nation building. This is vitally and critically important as all great powers and civilizations throughout the ages had a rallying theme, authority or believe and or ideology that held the people together and directed them towards a mutual goal, as Africa has 3000 distinct ethnic groups, 2000 languages. Home to the most genetically diverse people on Earth.
So diverse that two Africans are more genetically different from each other than a Chinese and a European are from each other. Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most-populous continent. At about 30.2 million km², it covers six percent of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4 percent of the total land area. With approximately 58 countries. It occupies a wide dynamic latitude has; deserts, forest, snow, temperate climate, tropics, sub-tropics, lakes, the longest river, lowest point on Earth, mountain ranges, uniting this continent will be no small feat. The Russians had the Christian orthodoxy, for the British it was the crown, America had liberty and freedom principle etc. on which they built on to the greatness they have all attained today. Africa and Africans had cultural laws which are about boundary-maintenance, which fundamentally inform notions of morality that in turn inform legislation and nationhood.
Africa's cultural fences are the bastion to African self-definition and determination, and if haphazardly torn down and replaced with untested “politically correct” values, what kind of devastation will that bring to Africa's course of development and civilization?
It is at this point that Africa lost the mark as it turned away from a “culturally correct path” and it didn’t take long before a slew of mishaps bedeviled the newly independent states as they started failing, first this can be attributed to a lack of a central binding theme or belief in a course of development (which is the case for most of sub-Saharan Africa) as the relative stability and better living standards of north Africa shows which can be partly attributed to the unifying cohesion that Islam provided as against countries of sub-Saharan African which are so diverse with multi-ethnic, and multi-religious and differing ideological compositions, second was a very weak cultural agency (the ability and range of creative activities that help assimilate, integrate new imports into another culture to advance it) which would have effectively and safely adopt cultural norms and standards from elsewhere into African societies and spearhead the development that Africa badly needed. Actually it is this habit of taking and making yours that made Europe and America a super power. In such as in the spheres of education, science, technology, legal system of which reverse was the case for most African countries, for example the Nigerian penal code was a direct copy of the British penal code at independence, with most of the clauses redundant in the newly “independent” country. All of these was encouraged perhaps even designed by the colonialist to keep and entire continent on its knees, this can be seen in the education type and quality accorded to the first generation of “enlighten minds” one will find out that virtually all Africans trained in universities were in the field of arts, humanities and social sciences, with a near complete absence in sciences, engineering, medicine, technical education and skills etc., the courses that forms the foundation for industrial development and advancement.