These days there are a million and one arguments about our culture and what is hot, what is not, what should stay and what should go. Our favorite accounts on twitter and Instagram take polls and ask questions that cause debates to erupt in the comment section; most of them being admittedly humorous I cannot begin to count the number of times I have felt my ribs crack from laughter because of a comment or answer to the various questions posed, okay, maybe I exaggerated with the feeling my ribs crack part but you get the gist. On a serious note however, as Africa is swept up this great big wave of globalization and as she finds herself accepting the global culture that is predicted to emerge from globalization, how do we decide what parts of our culture are to be held on o or let go of?
I cannot tell you what opinion to have on this crucial subject but I can share an excerpt from Helon Habila’s Measuring Time. It captures everything and more that I have taught of and wanted to think of and I will always be amazed by how phenomenal writers can capture the thoughts you carry at present and hoped to have formed in the future so wonderfully. Without further ado;
Mamo would listen to them to silently, and when he couldn’t take anymore, he’s go to his uncle’s office to have a chat, if his uncle wasn’t too busy. Iliya had a brilliant, searching mind that went to the heart of issues. He had books on almost every subject, and after reading a book he would give Mamo a summary of it, after which he’d give his own opinion on the subject, sometimes going totally against what the author had suggested. “The worst thing you can do,” he’d say to Mamo as they sat in the tiny office surrounded by books and files and wooden chairs, “is to ever accept anything at face value. Don’t agree with what a man says because he has lived longer than you, or because h claims that is our way, using history as evidence to back his claim. Some have accused me of promoting Western ways and making young people forget their tradition and culture. They point out to me the evils of modernity-as if tradition itself is devoid of evil. You will come across such people; my advice is, don’t listen to them, get education. If you want to follow tradition, follow it because you understand it, not because some old man told you it is our way? if the elders can’t answer, then forget it. The rest of the world has science and commerce and prosperity. What do we have? Culture. Most cultures and traditions are devised by society to help it survive a particular threat at a certain time, and once that threat is over, that culture becomes anachronistic”
I honestly do not think there’s any more I can type after sharing the words of Helon Habila. We all have a choice in the matter of whether we let go of or embrace our various cultures, but it is important that the decisions we make come from a place of understanding and good intentions.