Wangui wa Goro (2006-11-16)
Wangui wa Goro writes that to talk of the African Renaissance when Africans go without food and die unnecessarily of curable diseases, when children have no access to clean water and basic education, compels us to ask ourselves who is this renaissance intended for. “That unless we can meet the fundamental needs of the majority of African people, words like Renaissance (rebirth) in the face of death for many sound like a mockery.”
It is easy to forget that culture is ever evolving and we are what we are today. Some may want to hark back to a specific historical model of culture in the eighteenth or nineteenth century or some other period which appeals to their desires. Some may have profound knowledge of their desired historical culture, while others may just be armed with nostalgia which they acquired through a variety of ways. Neither is invalid, nor undesirable.
Recently, in an imaginary African country, some people in their mid forties and fifties have taken to occasionally donning an animal skin to show their ‘elder’ status. Some are probably four wheel driving drunkards, rapists, thieves or murderers living in secluded areas of the city in gated properties with little or no connection with their rural communities.
Others are steeped in religious or cultural sentimentality acquired dubiously for social mobility, acceptability or political or economic expediency. This is then promoted as “our way of life”, as if culture cannot be contested, as if the values of tradition and modernity cannot be put to the test to scrutinise who they serve; for what purpose and to which ends.