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That silly thing called culture: Understand My Culture, Understand ME
The greatest injustice you can do to a people is to impose your own culture on them. As I look at different people from different parts of…
That silly thing called culture: Understand My Culture, Understand ME
The greatest injustice you can do to a people is to impose your own culture on them. As I look at different people from different parts of the world, more so different parts of Africa, I see DIFFERENT peoples! They aren’t just different individuals, No. Rather, they are different PEOPLES — ’people’ with ‘s’ — peoples. That is, EACH people is a SPECIE on its own. They’ve got their own VALUES as a people — the way they are CONSTRUCTED to view things, to SEE things, to understand things, to appreciate things, to disapprove of things, ETC. All of these put together constitute what is called their CULTURE — their world-view, which gives rise to their PHILOSOPHY, their religion, their understanding of the cosmos, etc. At the local (immediate) micro level, it informs their dressing, or undressing, what they eat and what they don’t eat, as well as how they prepare what they eat, and how not to prepare what they eat; how they have SEX and how not to have sex; how they greet and how not to greet, ETC., ETC., ETC.
Like I said, ALL of this constitutes their CULTURE. We often consider the word “culture” as a word referring to either some “voodoo,” so-called, or some supposedly “primitive” “inhibitory” laws. But this is not so. If your ethnic culture is not to wear clothes, then that’s your culture. Blacks sometimes consider Caucasians of the West as having no “culture,” because, unlike the Yorubas, for instance, they have no “plurality of respect” in their language when addressing elders — but, THAT (the lack of ‘plurality of respect’) is THEIR culture! I could give several other examples. What I am trying to say is that there is NOT a people without a CULTURE! The fact that their way of life seems “liberal” or “permisive” to you does NOT mean that they have no culture! That which YOU consider as “LIBERALISM” or “PERMISIVENESS” is their CULTURE! But, you know what? They DON’T see it as liberalism or permissiveness. Rather, to them, THAT’s the NORMAL life! That’s their world view! That’s the way they as a people are CONSTRUCTED! Who constructed them that way? The Creator. You may not believe it because you consider your own way as the “NORMAL” and every other way as “ABNORMAL.” But, that which YOU consider as “abnormal” is what the Creator constructed those other people to have as “NORMAL.”
Culture is DEEP. It is what constitutes the PEOPLE — be it Yoruba, Efik, or whatever. You may consider, for instance, that all whites [Caucasians] are culturally the same — but that’s NOT true. The Portuguese have got their CULTURE — completely DIFFERENT from that of the English! The Finish culture [the ethnic group called Finnish, who speak Finnish language, and their country is called Finland]; their culture is completely different from that of the Belgian people [who speak Belgian language and their country is known as Belgium], and so on and so forth. Even in Britain, where there are three different PEOPLES — three different ethnic groups, the CULTURE of the English people is DIFFERENT from that of the Scottish people, and both are different from the culture of the Welsh people. So, if you go to Britain, don’t expect that you will meet the same behaviour in London as you would in Cardiff and both are different from what you would meet in Edinburg. London is the capital city of the English ethnic group, whose country is known as England; Cardiff is the capital city of the Welsh ethnic group, whose country is called Wales; while Edinburg is the capital city of the Scottish people [also known as the Scots], and whose country is called Scotland. Although these three “cooperate” together as one political state called ‘Britain,’ their CULTURES are so DIFFERENT from one another you’ll be SHOCKED! In the same manner, the CULTURE of the Greek people [people of the country called Greece] is so very different from the CULTURE of the people of FRANCE (the French ethnic group). But, to you, these are all whites — so you think they are all “the same”! The truth is, They are NOT all the same! They are as different from each other as the Yoruba of Africa are different from the Ebiras of the same Africa! CULTURE — which embraces ALL of a people’s LANGUAGE, ANTHROPOLOGY (the design of their PHYSIQUE by the creator), their TERRITORY (and of which they are in spiritual contact), their PHILOSOPHY, HISTORY, SPIRITUALITY, COSMIC CONSCIOUSNESS, SCIENCE, ART, GENETICS (the entire complement of their CHROMOSOMES — the genes that constitute that particular specimen of humanity, that particular ethnic group, and by which they can be scientifically IDENTIFIED and/or TRACED) — all of this, and more, is what CONSTITUTES the people, what gives them a distinctive identity on Earth, making them UNLIKE any other, and is known as their CULTURE! Culture is thus THE PEOPLE — in all the ramification of their terrestrial EXISTENCE. Culture is what makes the Yoruba different from the Igbo; the Esan different from the Bariba, the Kanuri different from the Efik, the Zulu different from the Ashanti; the Portuguese different from the French, etc., etc., etc.
As already put above, culture includes the PHYSICAL (the anthropology of the people), the GENETIC (the unique chromosomes of that particular ethnic group); the LITERARY (the LANGUAGE that is NATIVE and INTRINSIC to the people, as different from a LEARNED or ACQUIRED language); the SPIRITUAL (the unique understanding of the COSMOS of/by that particular ethnic group, and which informs their type and LEVEL of spiritual CONNECTION with the Creator and with the entire realm of the spirit-world, and which, almost invariably informs the TYPE and PRACTICE of their MEDICINE, their SCIENCE, etc., etc.) and so on and so forth. So, whenever you take or separate away a people from their CULTURE, you’ve DESTROYED such a people! You’ve taken them OFF the divine plan for them as a people created in God’s image and likeness!
To so destroy a people, and therefore to so take them OFF the divine plan for them as a people, about the most effective FIRST step is to separate them from their LANGUAGE! Language is the basic means of COMMUNICATING and of TRANSACTING and of LEARNING and ENRICHING themselves in their CULTURE! — all of the things we have enumerated above as constituting their CULTURE! So, take their language away from them, directly or indirectly, and you have started obliterating that particular ethnicity from the face of this Earth — even when they may still be physically existent, they would have been EFFECTIVELY DISABLED from being the people they were created to be.
One of the BEST ways to so take away, or separate them from their language, is to impose on them a political arrangement in which the official language of discourse is a language other than their own ethnic language, and under which system their own ethnic/cultural language becomes secondary, inferior, or even an OFFENCE to speak it! The English people are very good at employing this kind of tactic to DESTROY a people that they intend to destroy. Using this technique, and under the system that the English “masters” subject such a people to, the people’s own native CULTURAL language is dubbed “vernacular” and attracts a SANCTION when spoken! It’s the beginning of DESTROYING such a people!
About the very next technique used when trying to destroy a people, is to not only separate them from effective use of their LANGUAGE, but to also, concomitantly, make them to EMBRACE the oppressor’s own language as SUPERIOR and as a mark of SOPHISTICATION, LEARNED-NESS and of DIGNITY! Thus, peoples that are colonised by the English tend to relegate their own language to a base (despised, vulgar) level, while struggling to excel in reading, writing and speaking in the English language! They go further to dub their own people who cannot so write, read and speak English, as “illiterate”! — a derogatory term that consigns such people to the fringes of existence! Similarly, a people colonised by the French ethnic group EMBRACE French culture and the speaking of French language as “superior” and as the mark of CIVILISATION!
Thus Africa LOST its identity! It’s the greatest INJUSTICE anybody can do to a people — to take away their culture and to IMPOSE another culture on them! Thus, such a people get DISCONNECTED from their source of self-discovery, their SCIENCE, their SPIRITUALITY — the very essence of their own existence, and get, ultimately, DISCONNECTED from their own CIVILISATION — the unique BEAUTY of existence, God-given, and which ONLY that particular ethnic group is divinely-endowed to MANIFEST! Thus, that ETHNIC GROUP, THAT NATION (for the ethnic group is the Nation!) is dead! The most terrifying part of it is JUDGMENT DAY, when the God of all flesh shall gather all ETHNIC GROUPS (“nations” in the English Bible, translated from “ethnos” in the Greek) to give account of their sojourn on Earth!
Written by Pa Francis Akinnola