“AFRICA WAS A CULTURAL WASTELAND, UNTIL THE EUROPEANS SOWED THE SEEDS OF CIVILIZATION ON HER CULTURAL BARREN SHORES” BY
OKOJIE EHINOMHEN PETER
That “Africa was a cultural wasteland, until the Europeans sowed the seeds of civilization on her cultural barren shores” amounts to no culture in this geographical entity inhabited by people until the Europeans brought them the way of life. It is tempting to want to be subjective rather than being objective in discussing this topic, but bearing in mind that the Europeans are as rational as the Africans, one cannot but try to detach self from every sentiment in order to appraise and come out with substantial arguments with regards to the subject matter.
Africa is of the continents of the world where Homo sapiens inhabit. It has been a stage upon which the drama of human development and cultural differentiation has been acted since the beginning of history. Yet, no continent has suffered: mistreatment; misunderstanding; misrepresentation; misinterpretation and have been misreported either in people’s conversation or on the mass media. The African continent has been described as synonymous to famine, drought, barbarism, peoples without culture until the Europeans in their magnanimity brought civilization to them. These amongst others are the opinions of many Eurocentric thinkers and ideologists. Yet, the fact remains, that the African like the European have eyes, hands, organs, affections and passions; laughs when tickled; angry when provoked; searches for food and security; reasons and judges. Like the Europeans can be murderous, hypocritical, rude, polite, selfish and loving so is an African capable. In whatever ways, the African as well as the Europeans are subject to the same laws of nature. It stirs equivocation in attempting to place superiority of one over the other. Thus, this work shall however, try to clarify the conceptual terms in the topic of debate as well as provide answers to the pertinent questions there in: What is Culture? What is Civilization? Had Africa any culture or civilization before her interaction with the Europeans? What are the seeds of civilization sown by the Europeans? To what extent do these seeds pay the African? From facts gathered, the work shall evaluate and draw a conclusion.
THE CONCEPTS OF CULTURE AND CIVILIZATION
In his work, African Culture and Civilization, S. A. Ajayi presents culture as the established pattern of behaviour among a people that embraces every aspect of a man’s life and experiences. He refers to culture as a perceived way of life or the totality of all human efforts and achievements in bid to struggle to survive the prevalent opposing forces of nature. Culture comprises all about man’s ideas, behaviours and products. It finds expression in a people’s language, philosophies, institutions, arts, architecture amongst others. In fact, while everything created by God is nature, everything made by man is culture. However, many people from varying backgrounds have viewed culture differently. In the Western world, culture is limited to ideas, values, and attitudes. While Africans view it as the preserved traditions or ways of life of the forbearers and ancestors. This therefore is responsible for the reason why people tend to equate some aspects of culture of a people such as traditional dances and music, arts objects, traditional institutions, rites of passage such as marriage, birth, initiation, burial and the likes to mean the totality of culture. Technically speaking, Edward Burnett Tylor employs culture and civilization as complement of each other. According to him, “Culture and civilization, taken in its wide ethnographic sense, is the complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, arts, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society”. Having observed the various definitions of culture, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and...
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