by Msanii Wa sanaa
Published on: Oct 5, 2003
Type: Opinions

Can world cultures survive media? This is a question I ask myself time and again. The Kenya I was born into is not definitely the Kenya I live in today. Does society change without any outside influence? The answer is no. "I heard it on Radio/read it/saw it on TV is a statement commonly used by people to validate their speeches. It does not matter where they are, but if something is in the media then its final.

When culture is not sustained, then nothing can be developed. Most Africans will agree with me that because of the media they are not able to balance there triple heritage.

This is how triple heritage works. When I was nine I had to go and live with my maternal grandmother for three weeks, Mission: to be circumcised. I was a Christian, and to be specific a seventh day Adventist. My Parents had taken me to one of the best schools in my area. The church was strongly against circumcision. My paternal grandparents were staunch Adventists. Therefore there was no way I would be circumcised at their place; reason being the church said it was wrong. If I was circumcised it had to be a secret for either way, I would be frowned upon.

I may be a woman to the Kisii tribe; however I might also be a source of disgrace by not being circumcised. To my peers if I'm not, they would assume that I would never enjoy sex.
I have an education, and I am a Christian with an African heritage. How do I balance this? Time changes things and we need to adjust it. Bad cultural practices should be done away with, what happens to the cultures that are less harmful? Is it justifiable that we must do away with them? The media is partly responsible for the vanishing and disappearances of sustainable cultures. In Kenya local brewers do not have a chance. By “local” I refer to the brewers of chang'aa commonly known as Kumi Kumi. It is totally illegal to brew and then according to the Kenyan Media drink chang'aa, or your fate is to turn blind.

I'm sure at this point people are wondering what this article is all about. It’s about time I defined culture. To me culture is a set of values; it is a way of life, ones day. How I wake up, what I do, who do I pray to, do I even pray at all? Now again do not confuse culture with habit, or likes and dislikes. If I say I do not like mushrooms, that does not make it a cultural issue. It does not mean all Kisiis have an allergy to mushrooms. What is the role of the media then in sustaining cultures??

Time and again the media has failed to respect people’s beliefs. Or it has done exactly that, there is always a bias. There is a tendency to highlight only the bad side or the good side. It is OK to advocate for bad cultural practices. This should be done by an appropriate person. One who has mandate. One who understands people’s culture and is culturally fit.

If the Media is not cautious then we risk having cultures that have defied the change in ages being turned into another world. We'll end up living in a Coca-Cola and McDonalds world. If our cultures are not sustained or rather, are unsustainable then there is nothing than can be refurbished. Cultural change translates to uncalculated developmental change. Since the Media is among the opinion leaders, a point of reference on what is acceptable or not, it’s about time media re-evaluated how best to sustain world cultures.

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