I love pizza, the Italian dish. I also love Chinese music, I love the modern and the traditional Asian music. I enjoy listening to traditional sounds from Nepal and South America. There’s a calming effect that I get when I listen to ancient music and sounds that were made by the Native Americans. But as much as I enjoy these type of music and I want to be open to experience life and ecstatic feelings that I get from basking in the glory of another culture, I find myself missing. I find myself weeping for all the amazing elements of African culture that I never got to know and will never know. My curious eye looks at how original and unique ancient African ways of living were, and craves them. I crave for the knowledge, the experience, the feelings, the community, that is lost in history, burned not to be found. Lost, that is not taught, since the young and the old do not relate like they used to in the past days, the young like me, young, me, wants to be Westernized. Or is caught between the two but one is more appealing to her.
Right now I’m caught between being Westernized and Africanized. Except one wins when the other isn’t given a similar chance. One is more popular and universally accepted, the other is looked down on. I think there’s nothing wrong in enjoying things from another culture and even adopting them into your life, however I think it is wrong if you really didn’t have a chance at having or knowing your own way of life. I think it is wrong if you didn’t have time to make an intentional decision to adopt other’s way of life, I think it is wrong if it was forced on you. If it becomes your way of life because there’s no other way for you to live and enjoy your own native way. I think culture add and take from each other, so it’s normal. But if yours is erased and what remains is treated as inferior, are you adopting or getting assimilated?
A British girl I worked with once told me that the world is Americanized. That stayed with me for longer than I would love to admit. She found a way to put words into the disconnection I felt, the loss of uniqueness, roots and our ways that I was trying to figure out. When I think about the world, I think of it being diverse. I would love to go to different countries and see their ways of life that is different from mine, their gods, food, words, dance, beliefs, stories, traditions, them. I would love to learn more and adopt some of their different ways of doing things or dance to their music which is different from mine. Appreciate their way of being, way of life. But the world right now feels similar. It doesn’t feel like we come from different places, it doesn’t feel that we know our cultural ways, that we bring cultural differences in our encounters, that we proudly wear what makes us unique and different.
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Diversity is beautiful, but only if there was no shame or rebuke in others expressing their unique and different ways of living. I have seen people in the daladala look at the Masai man who is proudly wearing his attire as a foreign thing, worthy of contempt and fear since he is ‘primitive’. Is he or are we? Staring is some primitive behavior by the way, forget about us not knowing our roots and looking down on those who know themselves.
There came a time when I had to accept that my love of Western culture didn’t come from my own intentional choice, it came from colonization and cultural imperialism, it came at the expense of my own culture dying, and it being fully forgotten for this Western one to be embraced. That and that in secondary school people used to think you were cool if you were a fan of Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne. Maybe there’s a deeper reason or issue with that? Or maybe there’s not? I don’t know, but what I know for sure is right now I’m caught between being Westernized and Africanized. I don’t know this or that a lot. I’m here and there. I embrace this and that from here and there. Is that good? Is that bad? I also don’t know.
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I also love our attempt at making what is now, make sense to us. There’s a lot of Africanization of Western culture going on at the moment. I don’t know if it’s good or bad. I think it takes so much time to study our roots so maybe this is an easy way for us to feel at home with foreign items. Maybe? Or maybe it’s a good way that expresses us, this point that we are at, between Westernized and Africanized. Maybe.
I don’t know the solution to the not-so but-so identity crisis that I feel, but I actively watch as the world and I, see that the ‘primitive’ ways are also beneficial compared to the developments and advancements we thought make life easy. I’m watching as the advancements and their negative consequences teach us that the ‘primitive way’ can also be an amazing way of life. Maybe watching all that will force me to learn more about African ways of living.