ADOPTION OF WESTERN CULTURE BY AFRICANS
By John Pam
It has become evident of recent that Africans have this mentality that we must emulate the culture of the Americans and Europeans even to the extent of absurdity. I think an example or two in even our daily endeavors’ will make things plain.
As is said in Europe, ladies first, so I guess I will start with them. Nigerian women have adopted the beautifying of the facial features to the point where a black woman now thinks its faux pas to not apply the complete ensemble including as they call it blush. For those whom are ignorant of what blush is, it is a sort of reddish brown powder which females apply to their cheeks in Europe to help offset a pale or sickly color so as to look healthy or even simulate the physical phenomenon which occurs when a white female is feeling euphoria at being complimented which produces a reddening of the cheeks and hence the physical manifestation was called blushing and hence the name of the cosmetic. I doubt I need to go any further to prove that a black woman applying such to her cheeks does herself no favors but to show her ignorance of the true purpose of such a cosmetic. However, you would probably receive hatred from her, if you were to tell her she ought to not apply such merely for fashion but for the purpose which it would serve. Which I have heard is now been done to even the tone and is commendable.
Next I suppose come our men who have appropriated some of the most unappealing part of western culture as their new identity. Football hooliganism is frowned upon even in the countries where the fans have a valid reason to support a club due to geographical proximity. However, you will see Nigerian men getting into violent confrontations over an identity that is not theirs, merely borrowed.
Now, far be it from me to castigate any man who enjoys a good game of football or the lady who goes out of her way to try to look her best, what I have a grouse against is those who imitate western culture merely for the sake of it being western culture hence they reject their culture and adopt that which does not serve the ends they desire.
Now that I have laid a foundation I suppose on the resentment of those who would assume I am merely being critical for no reason, I best proceed with the core issue which spurred me to write this article.
First , I think I must make it clear I am trying to show that if even on a basic level we cannot truly translate foreign cultures to their best purpose what makes us assume that adopting all their values will solve our problems. I hear people complain all the time that if only Nigeria would adopt the culture of America (Europe , Saudi or place your favorite country that describes utopia to you ) we would leap forward at an unprecedented pace . What I think most people seem to forget is that to begin with these countries have their own peculiar problems that emanate from their particular form of government but as they say the grass is always greener on the other side, and consequently although we see there are lots of positive aspects to their culture we should not attempt to transplant what they have without reflection.
Anyone who has kept abreast of foreign news must have heard of the recent spike in violent crime in the united states ranging from white nationalists, police violence and other unpleasant occurrences that this media might be inadequate for me to exhaust. If we look to Europe we see disillusioned British citizens fleeing their countries to participate in war in the middle east despite the social amenities their country provides on a basic level not being available and if we look to the middle east we see social unrest. Now considering that these nations practice what we see as ideals based on our individual motivations, isn’t it evident that the problems that confront most governments is not a social or political one but a human problem. Let me explain lest the ambiguity create more confusion, I think to a large extent the core issues that face these countries do not stem from the intentions of the system of social and political governance but from the reality that a single system cannot attend to the multiplicity of human situations no matter how well-intentioned. So hence it’s not a failing of these systems but the systems are run in such a way that there is inevitably bound to be a schism. People tend to assume that the government is there to make life better for all but that is completely unrealistic. I think personally a government is merely there to ensure social cohesion and prevent breakdown of the core ideals that drive the aspirations of a nation. Hence, it’s not the government’s responsibility to build that social cohesion but it’s on us as individuals to engage in our society at the minutest level and hence produce a bond that goes beyond mere sharing of geographical space.
The African social mentality is something I find to be priceless towards this end where in Nigeria being your neighbors’ keeper is not seen as a moral imperative but as an obligation. I know it can be irritating to have to always help the needy but think of what it means in a world where people are drifting further away from each other due to affiliations with ideals which though noble can only be lived and not imagined. So in conclusion I suppose what I mean to emphasize is that in our haste to adopt other cultures let’s not forget our own culture which has so much to offer and has created the template for the best society, for the government is not meant to force you to love your neighbor for only you can do that by your daily actions.