Now and then, I swing by Mashada to get my funny bone tickled and sometiimes, like this time, I find some interesting discussions. On this occassion, a poster asked:
"Why are Africans so quick to lose thier culture when they move/relocate to the west"
Varied points of view were expressed and most of them were quite intelligent. The general concensus was that Africans and more so, Sub Saharan Africans are quick to disassociate or distance themselves with thier culture. The reasons for this varied from a lack of pride, to the need for assimilation and "evolution" for the sake of survival. One poster thought that the reason for this was due to the fact that "africans do not know who they are and what they are because they have never been taught why they do what they do and the breakdown of the matricarhcle system brought about by colonialsim was part to blame". His response ended with the question,
"What does it mean to be an African"
The discussion made for some good thought and for the past two weeks I have found myself taking a closer look at my own life and what it means to me to be African.
I have always held the belief, that when growing up, I was always, first and foremost (insert tribe) and then Kenyan/Ugandan and then African. When I came to Europe, I learnt that people saw me first as African and then Kenyan/Ugandan and lastly and most insignificant was my tribe. However when I moved to Uganda, I was never x-tribe enough. This was due to the fact that I apparently did not look like a member of that tribe and did not speak the language(later I spoke it with an accent) and therefore could not be from that tribe. To illustrate the absurdity of this issue here is a small ancedote.
Some time in 2005 summer while shopping in a clothing store in England, I heard these two ladies speaking our language. I was real excited and decided to approach them. (yes, I am one of those people who will come up to you and talk if I think you are african.. yup that's me). So I politely engaged them in conversation. The lady was glad to meet and proceed to ask me if I lived around. I was getting excited because to me this was potential friend. The next question was what part of Uganda I came from and what tribe was I. So I said where I was from and my tribe and immediately her face changed, "Really, nah, you can't be". I confirmed I was and the whole atmosphere changed, like there was nothing more we had in common. I made a hasty retreat.Since then, I always approach with caution..(some people learn the hard way)
That question has been gnawing away at my brain. On one hand, I think I am over analysing the whole thing and there is nothing to it. I am african because I was born in Africa, I am descended from African parentage and I am affiliated to a particular african culture and practice (not really though, I am a city girl) certain customs and speak certain african languages. That makes me African. In my particular case, I even know why we do certain things.
As to the question why we as a people are so quick to distance ourselves from our culture. My take on this is simply a lack of pride and never having being taught at an institutional level that we are a great people.
The guy who, in response stated that this happens due to the need to survive may have been on to something.
Have a very african weekend!