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24.03.2007 General News

Africans and the preservation of our culture

By A GNA feature by Esi Barko

Africans can be said to be people who are very interested in their culture. This is so due to the way some tribes and countries have managed to preserve their culture up to this day.

About a year ago, some Bushmen from the Kalahari in Botswana sent their government to court when they were faced with possible eviction.

The government claimed it had wanted to develop the area, but the Bushmen who had occupied that region for ages felt allowing the government to relocate them would amount to nothing but losing their identity, hence their fierce resistance and the court action.

Not surprisingly they won against the government. What these Bushmen did was a clear demonstration of the importance they attach to their identity and culture as well.

In Swaziland, which is run by a monarch, occasionally festivals are held for the King to choose a new wife in addition to those he already has. The King chooses the young and the beautiful ones.

Although he has faced a lot of criticisms both within and outside his country, the monarch has done virtually nothing to abolish this practice. The monarch claims it is part of their culture.

All these show the importance Africans attach to their culture, even the obnoxious ones which need to be reformed or abolished totally.

The Ethiopian government has been agitating for years for the return of the country's regalia and artifacts from Italy but not much has been achieved.

About two years ago the Italian government did well by sending some of the country's artifacts to them but unfortunately many more are still left in museums in that country.

While some Africans have fought very had to preserve some good aspects of their culture, which is their identity, globalisation and foreign influence among the youth are actually having a negative toll on them and their identity as Africans.

It is based on this that there has been a clarion call on Africans, both young and old, to help in the preservation of our culture and our heritage.
Globalisation and culture borrowing has affected all aspects of our lives. These include music, food, mode of dressing and even our way of greeting.

In Ghana for example, the new form of music, which is known as Hiplife, is a blend of the old highlife music and Hip Hop, which has its roots in America, especially among the blacks.

This Hip Hop has not only affected Ghanaian music but also that of Southern and East African music where the youth nowadays rap in Swahili, one of their native languages.

The Francophone countries are not left out. A country like Senegal has many of its youth raping in French when rap music has its source from America.

In recent times there has been a lot of criticism about the way the youth in the country dress. It is not uncommon to see young men wearing oversized jeans trousers with half laced sneakers.

Some even go to the extent of plaiting their hair and wearing earrings, something, which is totally foreign to our culture.

The girls are those who are worst affected; hardly would one go out without seeing a girl improperly dressed. They love to be in short skirts or tight fitting jeans which sometimes expose their underwear.

All these have come about partly because of the way the youth of today patronize the services of the Internet and the television.

Almost all the television stations in the country are filled with telenovelas. These programmes are also filled with indecent scenes and that is what the youth of today love to watch.

Recently during the celebration of our independence day, the President appeared at the parade in a suit. Many people found his way of dressing as inappropriate especially on that particular day.

When we take pride in what we produce in the country it encourages foreigners to also purchase them. No wonder nowadays when one goes out, it is common to see foreigners, especially whites, in batik and kente.

When we talk about the preservation of Africa's culture, it is not only what we have in the country which must be preserved; what has been taken away from us must also be preserved.

In a speech delivered by Paul Boateng, British High Commissioner to South Africa as part of the Independence Day celebration, he called on all African leaders to do what they could to ensure the return of all the artifacts and regalia which had been stolen and sent to Western countries.

This, he hopes, can serve as tourist attraction, which can fetch the continent a lot of income for development projects.

Africans should know that losing grip on their culture is synonymous to losing their identity.

Source: A GNA feature by Esi Barko

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