A few weeks ago while watching television, I tuned into a Chinese culture and since I could not be bothered to watch it, I changed the channel and the next program was about English kings or so. Had to tune another program and on and on, most of the programs were more about other cultures and very few were about my own culture or anything African.
I went to bed reflecting on what I know about Africa, what are our collective achievements? Monuments? Languages? Culture? Such a rich continent and our stories are not told even on our own soil. As a digital marketer, I understand how demand works and how that ultimately decides what is accepted and patronized and what gets dumped. Are Africans interested in their culture? Why do we shy away from anything African and are quick to embrace anything western?
Most people would say, the world is now a global village and so people are exposed to various cultures and ideologies. Although this is true, this does not mean we should abandon our culture and lifestyle just because we are exposed to others. To understand this, let’s travel back in time to the colonial era which was also known as the scramble for Africa.
The African territory was divided by European powers for the sole purpose of exploiting the continent. The colonization of Africa ushered in untold evil on the continent, it will always be used as an example of how the human mind can be brutal and callous. They used various strategies to colonize Africa and even though there was resistance, it didn’t really yield much as only Ethiopia and Liberia stood free. In the following chapter, we would look into how they were able to accomplish this.
One of the main strategies was to impose their culture and ideologies, setting Africa on a path to destruction. They went further to teach their languages and Africa remains divided between the French, English, Portuguese speaking African. Furthermore to compound the issues most of our history before colonial era has been translated to other languages likes English and we are not even sure of their authenticity, as they might have been altered to suit the alien’s narrative.
Even today the news from Africa is channeled through foreign media and it is subject to their interpretation, this is then beamed down through satellites to be consumed by Africans. So much so that foreign news stations are believed to be more credible than local media outlets. The question is why aren’t we telling our own stories?
Thus, now that we have gained independence from the west but remain civilized through their culture and thus, we are still held captive to their ideologies. These shackles are like claws with sharp pins and the more we try to break free the more we open up more flesh as it covers all areas of our livelihood.
Western influence can be seen in our sports, democracy, technology, science, culture, religion and spirituality etc. These are just a few areas and we would briefly discuss as it would be impossible to talk about everything and have highlighted the areas as follows;
The most common sport which we adopted is football and even though we have an African league cup (CAF), the premier league is preferred to the CAF. The African league still needs more work to meet up with international standards, however, I believe if we worked on developing our own with the passion we have for the sport, we would probably have one of the best leagues in the world if not the best. Some Africans know more about the English league than their own local league, they know all the players and their wages.
The democracy we adopted was implemented after independence, which baffles me. If we believed in our ability to self-governance then why adopt a system from our oppressors? Today, our democracy is of corruption and impunity.
The adopted culture comes from their mode of dressing, language, festivities etc. They taught our ancestors to abandon their culture and native deities. This is not to ignore the fact that some of our practices were indeed wicked. We now celebrate the white man’s tradition and believe in them as our own.
The most disturbing of all is in science and technology, some people believe the original scientists were Europeans and you would find a lot of information online to support this. The entire scientist taught in schools are Europeans, there is little to nothing about African scientist. Nothing can be further from the truth, they fail to discuss the Egyptian alchemy, astronomy, and mathematics which paved the way for the computers we have today.
They concluded that the lack of scientific studies and documentation meant we were primitive beings. This was just another tactic to belittle the system in place. I have included some examples that you can research for yourselves and they are as follows;
In the field of medicine, for those who haven’t seen it on Youtube of a traditional doctor performing brain surgery. In metallurgy, tools used to make weapons and art, which surpassed the Europeans at that time. Also read up on Nok culture and their famous terracotta sculptures, also the Benin exquisite art of ivory and bronze. In architecture and engineering, where the pyramid still stands tall over 4500 years ago.
Furthermore, why Africans are quick to adopt other cultures from theirs? This need to freely accept something outside of ourselves. The reasons are centered on poor leadership, cognitive laziness and most of all is our disunity. Today Africa is still a dump. A dump for culture, foreign ideas, lifestyle (good or bad) and even toxic waste.
No continent has become powerful as being a garbage dump. Now, I love sharing ideas and adopting best practices but these ideologies must be personalized to suit our own culture and should be discarded if it contradicts our collective believes and interests. Technology is moving us at supersonic speeds to uncharted territory where the rules are etched in stone in Silicon Valley and any place else but Africa.
We have to be strategic with our adoption of technology, we should borrow from the west to personalize the technologies used globally to suit us. Just like how the Chinese worked assiduously to ensure they emerge as a world power, they achieved this free of external influence and defining how they wanted to operate.
Finally, we have to be united and speak with one voice in Africa, this can only happen in love and understanding of our differences. If you observed, I omitted religion in order to prevent any controversy as I look forward to when we can talk about this topic more extensively. We all know what religion has caused in Africa. More sad news on how we are being sold off as slaves in Libya, this is why I believe we must begin to act on the aforementioned issues today.
My name is Samuel Agbo. I am from the middle belt region in Nigeria. I live in Lagos, immersed in a city with diverse cultures.I am a pan Africanist and from this you know I am very much involved with Africa. I own a website where we discuss on challenges and solutions for Africa.