In our present global world, identity is becoming less about the similarities in physical appearance, and more of where one is from. One’s nationality embodies their culture, beliefs and in some cases, a presupposition of their social status. Whatever part of the world that one happens to find themselves in, the global knowledge of their background usually precedes them.
For instance, when you meet someone from Japan, you are likely to first judge them by all your presuppositions about Japan before you get to know them on an individual basis. If all you know about Japan is how good their sushi is, then you might catch yourself praying they invite you over for dinner. If all you know about Japan is martial arts, then you will be sure never to get in their bad books. Sushi and martial arts might just be a few of the many cultural elements associated with being Japanese but it remains original to them, and both have been locally and globally accepted.
Looking on a more continental scale, what does it mean to be African? How does the world see Africa? What parts of our original African culture do we bring to the global table? Do we have any globally accepted cultural trends or ground breaking innovations that the world recognises us for? Or do the rest of the world simply associate Africans with wild life, poverty, corruption, and mismanagement. The answers to these questions are disheartening.
This is what happens when a growing number of Africans have chosen to substitute their original culture for that of another? This is what happens when the younger generation describe their local culture as barbaric and want no connection with it? Where have all our African festivals, African folk tales and myths gone? Who are our African heroes? And by African heroes, I am not necessarily referring to those that fought for the abolition of slavery – Africans existed and prospered well before colonisation and that era shouldn’t have to be the main content of most African history book.
Development in most Sub Saharan African countries isn’t hindered by a lack of opportunities, potential or intelligence but by a loss of cultural and social identity. When one has little connection or becomes detached from their roots, they are less likely to invest in the development of their home nation. They would sooner leave Africa the first chance they get. Because if a nation is trying to adapt to the lifestyle of another, wouldn’t it make more sense to move to the original nation instead of settling for a copycat nation. We need to stop running from our roots.