Culture evolves as a natural process of intake from parents, family, society and external environment since beginning (right from the birth).The cultural diffusion among different societies is an example of practice under globalization. Human culture reciprocates according to its experiences that widen cultural impact on family and the society. Culture identifies with the living creatures and their cultural evolution consolidates an identity in the given society. Culture develops through beliefs, faith, practices, customs, way of living, art, intelligence, language, food habits, political governance (Monarchy, Tribalism and One Party Rule, etc) and economy of a society. “Cultural growth gives identity to the societies entitles them as Christian or Muslim or Jewish or Buddhist etc; have different cultures. So when we come across art, customs etc; one may identify what is their culture or which religion they belong to. Cultural growth is community growth.’’[1] Globalization may be defined as a process of linking the regions or nations of the world, which is facilitated by information flow (communication) inducing changes in the pre-existing socio-cultural, political and economic structure and systems of nations and peoples. ‘‘Culture is a system of inter-related values, active enough to influence and condition perception, judgment, communication and behavior in a given society; whereas civilization embraces a culture which has endured, expanded, innovated and been elevated to new moral sensibilities.”[2] Globalization has its own set of cultural attendants, which exercise a profound influence on the life of people to be stressed everywhere including Africa. Globalization influences all cultures and larger proportion of people all over the world converting their local culture into global market. Jeremy observes that all other ways of life are diminished and marginalized at a stroke. Globalization is a declaration of war upon all socio-cultural systems.
The post 1990s new social structure touches the rural areas and collaborates with urban areas. Hegemonic control of traditional chiefs and the reconstruction of village and tribe in these areas is progressively happening due to rural migrations towards urban cities. The weakening of cultural taboo and of sticking only to hinterland is a part of cultural globalization. Modern elements are being infused into the traditional patterns. ‘The three dominant religions in Africa are Animism, Christianity and Islam. However, migration, urbanization and cultural globalization are quantitatively and qualitatively transforming these religions. The influence of globalization on cultural life becomes a part of migratory urban settlement.’[3] The changed market economy influences Africa’s socio-economic life pattern.
The changing socio-cultural setup persuades women playing a major role in economic production, control the process of organizing and managing matrimonial ties. By doing so, they are responsible for movement of women from household to ensuring education to their spouses. They take care of their families materially and morally. This leads to cultural awareness, a part of the diffusion of global culture. African women primarily involves in agricultural production, household affairs, managing their household economy by participating in the domestic rural markets. The global market economy motivates the traditional women to participate actively as industrial workforce and joining professional responsibility by respecting their indigenous culture. ‘‘The cultural awareness persuades families to send girl for education, joining professional courses to build strong families, livelihoods and communities.’’[4] ‘In the cultural and economic sphere, African women are more devoted to activities that positively affect their social status and reinforce their authority’[5].
The progressive urbanization and suburbanization of the African population has wrought massive changes in the nature of everybody’s community life. For most Africans, of course, migrant labour has been a familiar part of the life cycle for almost a century. In the early decades of the 20th century, legislative changes undermined African rural societies and destroyed Black farming economies and made it increasingly difficult for rural African to survive without remittances from the core urban economy. A pattern of migrant labour was enforced through which young men and women would pass much of their lives in and around major/big cities in Africa including capital cities.
Female genital mutilation has been long practiced in Africa and globalization impacts upon the societies to stop it. This is a major challenge. The traditional aspects of African society have introduced into political debate about the rights of women. ‘Hierarchies of domination are construed and experienced simultaneously, their dynamics permeating one another.’[6] These hierarchies of domination may be political, religious, customary, traditional, cultural or familial. Much of Africa’s cultural activity centers on the family and ethnic group, and families play an important role in Muslim as well as Christian society. ‘It is like a rose in which all the petals are healthy and united, extending their support to each other. The major challenge in the urban cities is the problem of emigration. These settlement intermix their traditional/customary culture with metropolitan life in which the impact of global culture is seen clearly. Migrant labour created both generational and gender divisions. Young men and women started to work away from their families. Backyard shacks or informal settlements and slum cluster are close to their places of work emerged as part of a cosmopolitan and sometimes vibrant urban and semi-urban culture, a part of global cultural cycle. For instance, the annual vacation, a part of migrant laborers traveled to their home town/villages to celebrate Christmas, Id and other festival shares urban global mix culture, which left elder people of those villages shocked.
One has the greatest respect for African traditional institutions. African loves their culture and its various traditions and customs. But one humbly submits that some of the customs and traditions are outmoded and have no place in modern society. African traditional rulers must conform to the modern trend of society’s development and do away with those customs and traditions that impede the process of development. They must embrace modernization and abolish all those outmoded customary practices that actually belong to the middle ages. If this is not done, many of African traditional areas will remain backward and under-developed for so many generations to come. At the same time they also become a hindrance to other people’s businesses that contribute to the general development of the continent. Despite the negative aspect of globalization on African culture, it does have some positive effects on African culture as well.
[1] http://www.sadashivan.com/freephotos4ursocialstudy/id23.html: emphasis mine.
[2] Mazrui Ali, 1986, The Africans: A Triple Heritage, BBC Publications, London: 239.
[3] Jeremy, S (2004) Localizing cultures, Korea Herald: January 13, 2004 (emphasis mine).
[4] Lentin, Ronit, 2000, ‘The Feminization of Catastrophe’ in Suki Ali, Kelly Coate and Wabgui Wa Goro (eds), Global Feminist Politics, Routeldge, London: 93.
[5] Droy, I, 1990, Femmes et development rural, Karthala: Paris: 17-20.
[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pan-African