Holding on to what’s important in the African culture in the face of Globalization


Globalization is blurring borders and changing our perspective of the world.

Our exposure to foreign nuances is influencing our socio-political structure. It’s changing our life-style, how we work and our family structure.

There’s been talks on how foreign influence is corroding the African culture. And what’s troubling is how we Africans seem to adopt these new identities at the detriment of ours.

Culture is dynamic. A culture survives by incorporating new elements that ensures the survival of its people- and in turn its survival.

That’s how the English language and culture survived till date. The version of English spoken today isn’t the same with that spoken or written when it broke from its west-Germanic language tree long ago. And there’re marked differences between today’s written form and Shakespeare’s texts.

The English language adopted words and concepts that best express certain concepts from cultures they come in contact with. And this ability to incorporate from other cultures boost its repertoire and makes it adaptable to the changing world.

That diversion into the English exemplifies how adopting from other cultures enhances relevance or survival. It shows how to stay relevant without losing your identity in the scheme of things.

One area that foreign influence permeated is the family structure. Looking back to how school texts define the family- it’s said to be include the father, mother and their children, while the extended family structure best defines the traditional African family.

With increased technology and a more immersive work environment, the traditional African family structure is gradually breaking down. Among the more educated folks, they see the nuclear family as ideal.

With this, we seem to have gone above the line of what we should adopt into our culture.

In an interview with the Atlantic, Alison Gopnik’s speaks on effective parenting. And it lends credence to the traditional African family structure.

“The context in which we evolved to have children learn by play and observation was one where there was a big extended family in the proverbial village: lots of grownups around, lots of opportunities to see what grownups were doing, lots of grownups who were committed to caring for each particular child. We’re not in an extended family or a village where parents can learn how to care give because they’re caring for their younger siblings or cousins and they can watch their aunts and uncles care for children. For the first time in history, we have parents caring for a child when they’ve never done it before but have spent a lot of time going to school and working,” Gopnik says.

The proverbial village that Gopnik’s advocating still exists in the African family contest. And we can harness it to meet today’s needs.

A proper filtering system is one with no bias or sense of inferiority to foreign culture. Where we can look at what works in our system and its scope of influence in light of a new perspective.

Image Credit: Flickr Cc

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.