Here’s the thing, I’m Nigerian and I’m not going to make the mistake of assuming all Africans are the same, but we do have a lot in common. Our culture, beliefs and traditions are similar and these days it seems something else is as well: we have a tendency to over imitate and over assimilate.
After having lived in the United States for almost eleven years, I’ve seen many Africans make a total turnaround once they move here. They literally adopt some weird behaviors along the way. I get it, some Americans like to sag their pants, tip their hats to the side, some like “grillz,” others like to shout out a curse word in every single sentence, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay for us to do it. Sure, “when in Rome do as the Romans do,” but you have to tread with caution. Even in Africa, it looks like we are forcing ourselves to become westerners. Why are we doing as the westerners do in Africa?
The last Nigerian film I watched was filled with American music. That was the film’s soundtrack!! American music. Nigeria is the rhythm of Africa. We have so many talented artists, yet our movies have American music in them? I don’t get it. It’s like there’s this belief that anything western is better. We abandon the beauty in our culture for what many of us see as modern.
For example, many Africans have a traditional wedding and a “white wedding.” A “white wedding” is the everyday wedding in western nations. The bride wears a white dress, the groom wears a tux. The traditional wedding, on the other hand, encompasses the couple’s culture. They wear traditional clothes and the music, food and everything else is just that–traditional. The whole celebration is colorful, cultural and beautiful.
As a child, I often wondered what the “white” in “white wedding” represented. Did it stand for the white dress the woman wears or the idea that we are borrowing the celebration from the “white man’s” culture? I’m not saying there’s something wrong with a “white wedding.” My sister had one. Still, there’s a problem if that’s all an African couple does for their marriage celebration. There should be some traditional aspect to any African’s wedding, but some Africans now only have a “white wedding.” That’s disturbing.
The problem is that we Africans are throwing away our culture in the name of modernity. We don’t need to do that. Many in third world countries believe the only way to grow or be competitive is to forgo the ways of our forefathers, to become more western. That’s wrong. We are unique because of our culture, our heritage and our traditions. I’ve seen and know Americans and Europeans who admire the African culture. We should too.
Think about it, when it comes to Africa the world is ignorant. Many see the images in the National Geographic or the Travel Channel as a model of what Africans or Africa is about. We can teach the world. We can teach them about us, about our customs, but we can only do it by first upholding and representing those customs–wherever we go. It’s time for Africans everywhere to promote, build and take pride in the motherland. We are not inferior, and we don’t need to change the core of who we are in order to grow as a nation or continent.