Culture in its broadest sense is a way of life !
fashioned by people in their collective endeavor to live and to come to
terms with their total environment. Its is the sum of their art, their
science and all their social institutions including their system of beliefs and
rituals. In the course of this creative
struggle and progress through history, there evolves a body of material
and spiritual values which endow that society with unique ethos. Such
values are often expressed through people’s songs, dances, folklore,
drawing, sculpture, rites and ceremonies.
Over the years these varieties of artistic activity have come to symbolize
the meaning of the word culture
African creative activities; there is no standard text for any song or folk
story, myth or chant. Each voice or body movement, the way the song is
sung and the words and names used are the artists personal rendering of
individual performance any time anywhere, the individual is creating his or
her own piece of art.
In past times and rural areas the youth participated in many festivals like
harvest festivals, marriages, circumcision and funeral ceremonies. The
adults also took part in those activities and the youth and old
intermingled. During the different performances; the adults could
understand the feelings, thoughts and moods of the young people.
Through their own rendering of the songs, they could holistically guide the
youth on what the society expected as far as the youths social and
psychological dispositions were concerned.
These days people live in cities and amongst people of many tribes so
social customs and rituals are evolving and changing inspired by others
around them and what they experience in the city.
So does that mean there is no culture left ? Does that mean that you are
not African if you don’t do these rituals or practices ?
No ! Look again at the definition above and you’ll see culture is the sum
total of the practices of people. So in fact it is still culture and now the
culture is changing and evolving.
Culture is not just what is found in the museums or in tribal practices
although these form part of culture. Nor is art, dance and theatre the
whole of culture although again these form a big and recognisable part.
Culture is also the way people greet each other, the types of hand shakes,
the words they use, the way they bury their dead, how they arrange
marriages, how men and women interact, how they buy and sell, which
music they listen too, which clothes they were, even the way they
decorate their buses !
They say the world is becoming a global village, youths everywhere like to
wear jeans, listen to rap music, drink coca cola, eat chips. Yet in each
place you will find different interpretations of these customs each place
has it’s own way of doing things.
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