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Melting Pot of Indigenous African Cultures

Indigenous African cultures are disappearing
Rampant urbanization, rural exodus, insecure employment, street children, insecurity and mass youth emigration. African cultures traditions and rituals are in fear of being lost.

South African woman wearing Ndebele neck rings
South African woman wearing Ndebele neck rings

The current era of globalization is having a melting pot influence on indigenous African cultures.

African social relations based on the traditional values of family solidarity, clan unity and social cohesion have been and continue to be sorely tested by modern times.

Indigenous African cultures have been disappearing, taking valuable knowledge with them. Each African culture is a unique answer to the question of what it means to be human. In today’s rapidly changing world, people from Africa worry about losing their traditional culture, the traditional way of life is getting lost.

Cultures are rooted in a time and place. They define how people relate to nature and their physical environment, to the earth and to the cosmos, and they express our attitudes to and beliefs in other forms of life, both animal and plant.

Throughout Africa, ancestral social relations based on the traditional values of family solidarity, clan unity and social cohesion have been and continue to be sorely tested by modern economies. Economic inequality and the exclusion of social groups in all sectors of the population are among the many factors of instability that exacerbate the loss of meaning of the African traditions of solidarity and sharing.

They are not the only causes but they are the most visible ones and they generate the most rapid transformations – rampant urbanization, rural exodus, insecure employment, street children, insecurity and mass youth emigration. The prevalence of certain practices rooted in ancestral traditions does not encourage the promotion of freedoms and rights, in particular those of women and girls.

In Africa, too, many conflicts and wars have broken out within and between States in the last three decades, with consequences such as the mass displacement of entire populations, the deterioration of the humanitarian situation, and the destruction of social and cultural infrastructure.

In particular, education systems, the cultural heritage, scientific and cultural infrastructure and biodiversity have been affected indirectly by these conflicts and have been damaged irreparably in many cases. Many fear the loss of indigenous cultural identity when ancient African culture is homogenized leading to cultural assimilation including loss of African languages.

The current era of globalization is having a melting pot influence on indigenous African cultures. While this may promote the integration of societies and has provided millions of people with new opportunities, it also brings with it a loss of uniqueness of indigenous African cultures, which in turn can lead to loss of identity and even self-conflict. This is especially true for traditional African societies, which are exposed to rapid modernization.

Language is a part of culture; nearly half of the 7,000 languages spoken in the world are expected to vanish in the next 100 years.  In Africa, over 2,000 are spoken on the continent and hundreds are endangered or critically endangered. 

The extinction of a language results in the irrecoverable loss of unique cultural knowledge embodied in it for centuries. Deep in our hearts, we all understand that the quality of our lives depends, to a great extent, on our being able to take part in, and benefit from our culture.

In 2013, Kenya began a campaign toward the Maasai of educating the tribe on the negative connotations of ear stretching and upper cartilage piercing. Some Kenyan officials believe tribalism is hurting Kenya and the more mainstream an individual is the more likely they can absorb into conventional society.

The Samburu are extremely dependent on their animals for survival. On November 11, 2011, thousands of the Samburu livestock were impounded due to a dispute over land ownership with Nature Conservancy and the African Wildlife Foundation who purchased the land and gave it as a gift to Kenya for a national park, to be called Laikipia National Park. The Samburu legal case was heard in the town of Nyeri December 14, 2011 and the court ruled The Kenya Wildlife Service had secured legal registration of the land.

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