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"I am a little bit of everything all rolled into one.I am a lover,I am a child, I am a mother,I am a sinner, I am a saint. I do not feel ashamed.I am your hell, I am your dream, I am nothing in between." "I am the past you know nothing bout. The future you cannot ignore."

Embracing culture in the modern world

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Culture covers a people’s art, literature, food, language and values. Whether anyone argues otherwise, there are similarities between African’s cultures, despite the borders that separate the various areas. These cultures are drawn from a main African body. In my few travels and interactions, I have identified similarities between, for example, Shona and Venda culture, Pedi and Bakalanga culture, Tswana and Sotho, Yoruba and Shona…

On a whole, African culture respects the things of our environment-human beings, animals, the soil, water-these are all coherent and have a certain connection. For we consume animal products and the soil grows our staple foods, water nourishes us and human beings are there for one another and to multiply. Our social existence is celebrated in honest display of emotion that is why Africans are passionate when they are happy or sad. Art and music reflect these emotions and depict the honesty of Africans and their feeling. Food and language bring people together and breeds a sense of familiarity.

In my perspective, it is not debatable that it is possible to be culturally rooted while advancing in the modern world. China is an admirable example of this. I have never seen a people so in touch with their roots and culture and displaying pride in all its aspects. China is a powerful economic player and one of the best in the modern world. Africans are always the quickest to let go of their culture and claim conservativeness and selectiveness.

In Africa, the aspirations, goals and principles must be identified and expressed within its culture and values. The main being respect for oneself, others and the environment.

Respect embodies all that one is, becomes, how they relate, treat themselves and others and their environment. With a sense of respect, it is easier to appreciate all things contributed to your being, reflects your existence and past and the possibilities you can create.

Sometimes I get worried. I interact with various people of different backgrounds, races and ages.Ofcourse you’ll always meet people with negative attributes but I must mention that more Africans I meet tend to display close-ended and uninspiring behaviour that makes one wonder, where did our elders go wrong or why did they take such route.

Each individual must be taught to consciously make decisions to ‘find themselves’.

Africans made an error by confusing advancement with adopting Western mannerisms, language, values and lose track of their own. English is not a language of convenience anymore. Some Africans cannot speak fluently in their native tongues and despise or look down on anyone who does. People act embarrassed if they cannot fully articulate themselves in English. Ke Motswana ga ke a tshwanela go ikitaya ka thupa fa ke dira phoso mo puong yam ma Mosadinyana. What is with the intense identity crisis?

There is a need to maintain important and relevant aspects of culture-our heritage.

Ignorance may tell some otherwise but it’s a huge price to pay to live in distortion. Language development and usage (through literature, media programmes, inclusion into education curriculum).Museums which will display what Africans feel is inspirational to them. More African publishers, producers, artists are needed to tell and interpret stories about their people’s lives and move away from tales of oppression to more intriguing thoughts.

I believe that though culture has to be embraced we must realize that certain aspects of it must slowly be chipped away, the negative traits to be specific. It is ironic how Africans tend to use where it befits and benefits them, especially to oppress their own people. There are aspects that aren’t conducive to positive development, for example corporal punishment, abuse (especially of women and children), instilling fear instead of encouraging respect, ignorance and selective conservativeness. Nowadays some communities have commercialized cultural events (e.g. reed dances, circumcision, bogwera-rights of passage which must be sacred) and parade them in mainstream media, opening them up to exploitation and unnecessary scrutiny by outside people.

Communities with no sense of culture are lost. That is why we’ll experience so many social ills and disruptions. We pursue what isn’t ours. Reflect what not us are and confuse advancement with arrogance to what embodies us as Africans. Culture gives us a foundation to draw our lives from as social and spiritual beings-without it I doubt one will have a strong backbone to successfully navigate life.

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