In recent times at least, all that Africa does is to copy and imitate others. We flagrantly imitate the western world. Like parrots, we imitate without understanding why. We imitate ideas and ideals so much so we are steadily becoming a shell of our former selves, unknowing and unsure. Who are we? What does it mean to be African? No one seems to know anymore as our humanity and our essence and our way of life is eroding at a rapid pace. What is more miserable than not knowing oneself? Sad too is the fact that there are Africans who don’t want to be thought of as Africans; they don’t want to be seen as behaving like Africans. To be African is to be backward and untouched by the wind and rain of westernization and modernity.
We seem to lack originality. We seem to be afraid of dreaming our own dreams. We lack confidence to chat our own path. We lack the confidence to fashion our own destiny and to actualize our own vision. And so we just follow. We imitate. We copy. Like poodles, we do whatever the west ask of us; and even when we are not asked or forced, we do our best to carry out their wishes; we voluntarily obey.
Our economists and development specialists know that trade liberation is bad for our economy, yet we blindly follow the recommendation of the West and open our continent to the vagaries of globalization. How in the world are we to compete in an open and free market when our industries are still at their infancy? Against whom are we competing? In a continent with miles and miles of forest, we import toothpicks and papers and furniture. In a continent with miles and miles and of arable land, we import food and food related materials. In a continent with all sorts of scholars and universities, we still import such basics as bathing soaps and laundry detergents. Don’t we know that importation drains our foreign exchange reserve which in turn enriches the West?
Even our system of governance is a fake! The West, especially the United States, has made it known that we must embrace and practice democracy. Democracy! What in the world is democracy to an African? Is western-style democracy amenable to the African culture and environment? Does a winner-take-all mentality fit the African way of life? Democracy, democracy, democracy! They barked at us to practice democracy without our leaders and peoples really understanding what it entails; yet, we gleefully acquiesced. See where it has taken us and see what it is making of Africans. We copied and are imitating a system (as is) that has no relevance to the African setting.
Our network of family system (kinship) has guided us through the good and the bad times. We relied on one another. We had a fabulous and viable social contract going. Men were men and women were women and one acted as the anchor for the other. It was complementary. It was good. Today however, we are gradually discarding what we had. We are steadily becoming individualistic because we fancy the way of the West. Some women are all suited up and messed up fighting the “feminist war” claiming they were oppressed and now want the freedom to be on equal footing with men. What nonsense. The negative effects of such nonsense are obvious for all to see. When it comes to shepherding and chaperoning the family, the West has nothing to teach Africans.
There are African men who are afraid to marry African women. The fear and the marital expectation can be paralyzing. The “new rules” surrounding sex and romance, domesticities and future endeavors also discourage some men. In other words, some men are no longer sure what their role and place within the relationship should be. And so they look elsewhere.
In the near future, old-peoples-home (nursing homes) would become the norm as opposed to children taking care of their aged parents. We all know that the West is replete with such holding-cells. But before you know it, Africans will begin to think these cells are chic and necessary and practical and would start dumping their mothers and fathers and aunts and uncles there — sending cards and flowers every so often. And why not; don’t we imitate everything western? Stupidity is not beyond some Africans, you know. What’s more, sixteen and seventeen year old boys and girls would be leaving the sanctity and protection of their parents’ home in search of “freedom” in order to live on their own. The continent would soon start having children pretending to be grownups.
The West has already told us that circumcision is inhumane. They call it body mutilation. Indeed, may be this practice is bad. May be! But why are Africans not telling the West that breast implants, cheek and buttock implants are inhumane and injurious and should therefore be stopped. Why are we not telling the West that liposuctions, nipple and clitoris and scrotum piercing are sadistic? Everything African is bad; everything Western, no matter how horrific, is good and elegant. With time Africans would imitate these, too.
Respect for the elders and the elderly is slowly eroding. In Lagos or Western Nigeria for instance, when was the last time you saw a young man prostrate for an elder or a woman actual knelt for any one? Today, it is mostly about “hi” and “hello” and “how are you” with heads grudgingly bowed, if at all. It seems the elders no longer have a place and a role in our society. In today’s Nigeria, it is mostly about money and power and intimidation; or the appearance of money, power and influence.
Certain aspects of the western culture are good and may be copied. Nevertheless, it is shocking to see some Africans abandon, in whole scale, their Africanness. This rejection manifests itself in several ways, but more so in the pervasiveness of separation and divorces. That some couples are getting divorced in high numbers should not be a surprise to any discerning African. But consciously or unconsciously most of us act as if we don’t know; or we simply don’t want to talk about it because divorce is a “white man’s burden.” Without wrapping it in politically correct language, the truth is that, the vast majority of Nigerians/Africans living in this country are confused and depressed and mostly unhappy — more so the women who are more likely to live afar from and disparage Africanism.