| It can be said with a good measure of certainty that human activity and ingenuity have been put to optional use in the last few centuries. With tremendous breakthroughs in the areas of science and technology; culture of modernism has been given birth to by modern western civilization. Ours has now become a "brave new world", variously described as the "fastest age", "the global village" and "a great world house". The impacts of the modern culture are undeniably felt in almost all aspects of the human like on earth.
Expectedly, the African continent has been introduced to new cultural, socio-political, legal and scientific systems, requiring the mastery of new ethics of life and even new world views. Due credit must be given to the westerners for seemingly engrafting Africa in this culture of modernism. But this is only a chapter of the story of Africa in her cultural contact with the west in the name of modernism.
In the point of fact, it is doubtful whether modernism is in anyway a blessing to the African continent, going by the situation of things in today's Africa. This process of acculturation for the Africans is not an additive enrichment of their culture but a substitutive transformation, by which they sever the link with their cultural roots, a process that is tantamount to cultural suicide. Changes at the level of morale and ethos have been so rapid and brutal that it does not take a soothsayer to see total cultural annihilation ominously staring the continent in the face, in the slavish imitation of the western way of life, the thread of African cultural humanism, that once held the African society together, for instance, has been savagely torn asunder and eclipsed in
the cankerworm of modernism. This is a tragedy for the African continent, the facts and details of which constitute the motive of this article.
The traditional African world view is overtly humanistic and as research acclaimed said, this humanist world-views, which has its characteristics, African humaneness, wholesome personal relations and an overwhelming sense of the sacred and dignity of the human person-considering the ultimate reality and meaning in creation, is expressed in the traditions Africa's love for children, for the family, for harmony, for community and for hospitality. Africa is a home of hospitality and it is these cultural values that gave meaning and purpose to the African traditional life, and characterized the Africans as humanistic.
The Africans traditional humanism is not anti-super naturalistic and the human life for the traditional African society, life is something sacred and above every other material thing. Something to be loved beyond everything else this aspect of African humanism is shown in the traditional African reaction to the various threats to human life. Apart from holding that human life is a gift to the world and all its grandeur is "naked" and "empty" without the human person. The human person meaning to entire cosmos and is the masterpiece and crown of creation.
On the level of human existence, African traditions humanism is also expressed in the African belief that the other human person brings meaning to the life of an individual. Even if one possesses all the riches in the world, life would be meaningless if one were to exist in the world alone. This is made true in the saying, "I am because we are, and since we are, therefore I am". From this perspective of humanism, the traditional African sense of community, family hood and brotherhood are projected. This informs why the traditional African man or woman is prepared to make incredible sacrifices, to bring one more human person into existence, to protect a threatened human life or to share his resources so that one more human person may be.
The humanistic world -views of the traditional Africans can equally be discerned from the named they give to their children. Such Yoruba names as OMOLADE (Children are the crown of life), OMOTOMO (Money is not as valuable as Children), IBIDUN (Child birth is sweet), etc., are indicatives of African humanism- the overwhelming believe in the superiority of the human person over and above material wealth. This belief is equally expressed on Ibo names such as: MMADU (the human person is goodness evidenced), NDUBUISI (human person is first),
MMADUKAKU (the human person supersedes wealth) etc. Among the Efik/Ibibio, this aspect of African humanism is expressed in such names as: UWEMEDIMO (life is wealth), EKUWEM (life is supreme good), AKANIYENE (a child is great than wealth) etc.
The above value constitutes the traditional African humanism, which places the human person at the center of creation and abhors all anti-human, and anti-life activities. This is what enables the traditional African men and women to live a joyful and happy, fulfilled life in the face of their seeming destitution. but today, the so called modernism has put a knife (painful) on this enviable African heritage- which held Africa together and they have fallen apart. Let Africans quickly and slowly undertake a factual analysis of this uncomfortable eclipse of African humanism for the African sake.
You must be logged in to add tags.
Henry Ekwuruke is Executive Director of the Development Generation Africa International.
You must be a TakingITGlobal member to post a comment. Sign up
for free or login