Correspondence: “Let the world see Africa’s rich cultural heritage”May 15th, 2011
Young Africans must resist blithely adopting western norms and learn from other parts of the developing world which have not lost their own culture, language and traditions, writes 26-year-old Roland Uwakwe from Abuja, Nigeria.
Like Canadian geographer George H.T. Kimble said years ago, the darkest thing about Africa has always been our ignorance of it.
African youths are the most potentially endowed set of folks in the world. Albeit, the modern youth in Africa faces a serious dilemma due to the fact that millions of Africans have been uprooted from their forefathers’ way of life, and have not found their place in the new and changing society in which their destinies are now cast.
Millions have been transformed overnight from their tribal way of life to membership of a code of international behaviour championed by the western ideology of freedom and equality.
All over the continent most youths are on the move; they are going somewhere without being sure of the direction. The first point of call is in the area of language – no doubt, English and French languages are now global dialect – but the modern African youth take pride in speaking these languages to the detriment of their local dialects. They look at anybody who speaks these local languages as primitive, barbaric and uncultured.
In a similar manner, youths in Africa have adopted a western mode of dressing – unfortunately, as you can see from this picture, even the writer is a victim. All over the continent young people have discarded the attire of their home communities in place of suits and jeans, even when the weather does not suit.
Fast food joints have become a place of status and class, a place where people show how rich they are in society. The young ladies in Nigeria are mostly moved by this ugly trend. To woo a lady this day, one need to ‘take her out’ – and taking her out only means going to a fast food joint.
Recent trends are caused by the inflow and outflow of information across borders, as symbolized by globalization, and championed by the mass media. The impact of western culture has left the 21st century’s African youth psychologically behind other youths in the world that have only one life to live, one direction and partner of behavior to fellow. The result has been that instead of pursuing worthwhile goals, we are pursuing shadows in the name of development and modernity. And all despite the fact that Africa is the cradle of human civilization.
It is the view of this writer that for Africa to rise to its glorious role in the comity of nations, we must learn from India, Japan and south east Asian countries who are rising high, while at the same time holding on to their traditions. It is important to state here that civilization does not necessarily involve Europeanization, Americanization or westernization.
Africa has a rich cultural heritage which will only be seen by the wider world if we in Africa appreciate it, while at the same time transforming those that draw us back.