Bits of Heritage, Whose Heritage

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Change is the only inevitably constant aspect of life in this world we all live in. Our cultures have been dynamic. In some places we experience a rapidly vanishing heritage. While others keep theirs and improve on them, others simply do not know what to do with theirs. Technology and new discoveries in science have greatly influenced global cultural values including a supposedly described 'uninformed and primitive' African continent. This is truly not the case. In fact Africa has gradually embraced a foreign culture as its traditional values are fast loosing their place in the scheme of things.

Across many races, many traditional items are quite symbolic as they serve the emotional and utilitarian needs within the immediate environment. These sociological elements differ from place to place. As humans there are similarities of purpose. There are some common needs and challenges even basic emotions in some cases irrespective of places of origin. At a point in time such solutions to these problems could be referred to in some quarters as being primitive, uncivilized, civilized, modernized, post-modernized or even futuristic. However, it is these similarities that ought to be recognised always.

Some of the things common to all of us would include our daily routine tasks, state of well-being, growing-up, clothing, relaxation, commerce, comfort, shelter, beauty, meeting up with the challenges of nature, the environment and the rest. Certainly there are traditional ways of dealing with all of them.

In Africa these traditional values are gradually being replaced by the culture from the developed nations. Why has this been so? It can simply be said that most humans would rather associate with a winner. The West is rich, with a developed society and it is powerful! Therefore many things about them are assumed to be fantastic to be emulated.

Therefore there is an element of obvious association with it at the detriment of cultural values. Suddenly Africa's contribution to global heritage has reduced or it's being threatened. Generally speaking, some parts of the globe are gradually losing their sense of history. However there is a consolation for the future that maybe, hopefully, the vestigial traces may reveal the forgone times.

Even within the developed nations those elements that are associated with their culture are rapidly changing. Attitudes, norms and other values are now quite unpredictable. This has been further threatened by the recent insecurity in play around the world. So at any point in time, how do we then know where we were, who we are and how things have been and of course where will we be? We, as humans can not really accurately decipher what is next.

Though, if presently a people have gone on technologically to improve their station in life while others have had theirs truncated is an issue to be investigated and solutions proffered. And again is it possible to have a hybridization in terms of the diverse cultures, the tradition and values across the globe instead of an over-riding culture from a people that its expected to sweep all over mankind as the acceptable norm?

Lastly even if a global culture evolves eventually one is always assured that its 'bits of heritage' would be questioned and the routine items used by all would hopefully be available to stimulate our thoughts to answer the queries of our past, present and future.

Muyiwa Osifuye
A photographer based in Africa

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