UNIVERSALITY AND THE BLACK MAN: WHITHER AFRICAN CULTURE?

The world today is called a global village, due to the interconnectedness of information and communication. It moves at an even faster pace, with innovations on average lasting about six months. The internet and social networking has reduced social boundaries and made the world a much smaller place. Cultural boundaries and barriers are thus being crossed daily by virtual strangers through sharing information and ideas on social network platforms.

Under this guise dominant cultures are disseminating their ideas and way of life subtly but forcefully on other weaker cultures. Everyone it seems is fighting for relevance in today’s world but sadly not the black man.

In the context of the on-going exchange, where does the black man stand? How are we positioning to situate our ideas, vision and world view on the rest of the world? Today we speak of eating Chinese, Korean or continental (European)but how mainstream is African cuisine in the world context?What about language, how has any African language really affected the world? Meanwhile African children continue to learn languages like French, German, English, Spanish, Arabic and more recently Mandarin. Language being a prominent part of culture, we are thus short changed in the exchange of ideas.

What about technological innovation? How many of the dot.com billionaires and the start-up internet companies are African in origin? Are we blazing the trail in any of the scientific fields that promote human welfare? The truth is that our technological development is still rudimentary and with all our arable lands, are still net importers of food.

It seems we are still caught in the tribal politics of the past century. We are yet grappling with various social vices like corruption, nepotism and tribalism in an age where others are already probing Mars and preparing for the coming century.

It is time to get our act in order, to stop the in-fighting and ethnic shenanigans. We can easily get back on track and we don’t have to reinvent the wheel to do so! Getting our priorities right include enthroning merit, setting right targets, prioritizing public expenditure programs and investing massively in education.

This list is by no means exhaustive. We must refocus and redirect our energies towards finding an enduring solution to our problems. A PWC study/projection of the world in 2050, predicts Nigeria as the 13th largest economy in the world by then. This is a recognition of the potentials inherent in our nation. However certain conditions have to be met to fulfil this promise.

It would be tragic if we fail to actualize our potentials, as our children’s children would continue to be the underdogs of the next century, a world that may be a radical departure from anything we know today. Our forebears gave us the pyramids of Giza, the great Zimbabwe, Benin moat, various bronze works and artefacts. Today we are finding it difficult to make any mark at all except within the confines of the industrialised west.

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