Effects of western culture on the African culture.
Culture is the way of people’s life. People always believe that their way of life is more unique and superior to others. For example, Africans believed in their culture so much that any attempt to introduce another culture was met with a lot of resistance. The social setting of any group of people suit such a group and introduction of anything into the setting causes misunderstanding and disunity. Before the coming of the Europeans to Africa, Africans held their culture above any other culture in the world.
The role of women and men in the society were clearly defined. The education system was basic and informal. Children learned basic skills from their grandparents and older members of the society. Gender role among children was clear and each member of the society had a duty to perform in the family. For example, boys would look after animals and protect the family against external aggression. Girls, on the other hand helped their mothers in house chores like collecting firewood and water. They were also responsible for the cleanliness of the house and the compound. They were taught moral values by their grandmothers, especially during supper time when they sat and listened to tales. Most of the moral teachings were in form of stories aimed at specific moral values.
The family setting and decision making organs were vested upon older male members of the society. However, women had fewer privileges in the society as compared to their male counterparts. For example, the parents of a girl would decide on the person to whom she had to get married to irrespective of her feelings. At times, the arrangements involved older suitors so long as he was able to pay dowry as requested by the parents. Once the girl had been married off, she cut links with her maternal home and enjoyed no rights to own any property from the parents. The society valued boy child so much that when a parent has no boy, he was considered worthless in the society.
Family inheritance was considered a societal issue that the whole family would sit and divide the family wealth among boys in that family. The societies were ruled by clan elders who settled disputes among the members of the society. Some communities were ruled by chiefs, a position which was hereditary in most cases. Land ownership was communal and each male member of the society was entitled to land.
The Africans believed in the existence of gods whom they worshipped in shrines and mountains, they also believed in witchcraft and traditional medicines. Another key component of the African culture is their values of animals as the main source of wealth. They kept large herds of animals and the larger herd one had, the wealthier he was considered. Besides, wealthy members of the society would have an excuse of marrying more than one wife. This is because they could afford the required bride price for the women they required. The higher number of children was a prestige that each man aspired to reach. Africans had a rich culture whereby birth and naming ceremonies were held in high regards. There would special rituals performed in different occasions including burial ceremonies.
Western civilization eroded most of these cultural practices and after 21st century, the Africans states had embraced modernity. Civilization actually started in Africa with the coming of the missionaries who came to spread Christianity to Africans. First, their aim was to replace the African traditional religions with Christianity. It worth noting that the Europeans considered Africa as a dark continent that is they were uncivilized. Their first approach was to introduce formal learning by putting learning institutions that aimed at teaching vocational jobs like carpentry and dress making. These institutions attracted many Africans who later saw that formal learning is a prestige. Soon the missionaries introduced formal schools where basic learning was done. African children abandoned their informal learning from their grandparents and joined the missionary schools. However, this was met with resistance from traditional conservatives who believed that the coming of the missionaries would erode their culture. The missionaries were determined to impose their ideologies on Africans and soon they started educating them against some cultural activities which they considered primitive like female genital mutilation. They also taught good nutritional values and the need to read the bible. This too, was met with resistance although some Africans changed to the new ways.
The arrival of the western powers to colonize Africa raised the tempo of civilization and soon the Africans were literally forced to embrace western culture. The colonies introduce plantation farming that replaced the indigenous farming methods. The chiefdom was also destabilized as the colonist chose loyal rulers who could help them in administration. This means that the Africans were deprived of their typical democracy. The colonialists interfered with traditional home set up as they forced men to work in their plantation farms. Africans viewed this as humiliation since men were respected members of the society who could not be forced to do anything. The growth and development of towns during this period brought several social challenges. Apart from fragmentation of families, rural urban migration has left the urban population with a lot of social strains on the facilities. Again, western languages have invaded Africans so much that children born outside rural set rarely speak their native language. This has created a dichotomy between the elites and the rural folks who believe that western culture has belittled them in the face of the elites.
There was a great change in health sectors. Whereas Africans believed in traditional medicines and medicine men, the missionaries were against this practice right from their arrival. To curb this practice, the missionaries introduced missionary hospitals where they provided health care services. Traditional birth attendants resisted the move but soon everyone preferred the hospital to the birth attendants. The missionaries also introduced indiscriminative education system for boys and girls, a fact which promoted the girl child education among African communities. To crown this, the missionaries also educated Africans on the nutritional values and advocated against the female genital mutilation, a practice that undermined African girls and exposed them to several health hazards.
In conclusion, westernization brought both positive and negative effects on African culture. First, the introduction of formal learning enlightened many Africans thereby promoting literacy. Also the missionary hospitals were of great help to the society at large as tropical diseases like malaria would be treated. However, the arrival of colonialists brought much suffering and agony to African communities. First, there was forced labor, fragmentation of family set up loss of cultural independence among African communities. The African men also lost their position as the sole decision makers in the society as this role was transferred to the colonial government.
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