“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds” (Robert Nesta Marley)
Globalisation and the quest for cultural diversity are strengthening cultural colonialism in
Television is arguably the most powerful tool of mass communication invented by man. Together with film, this medium is perhaps the most potent weapon of cultural colonialism in
Long before the Literature for Television Adaptation, the South African film and television industry seems to have seized the initiative. The SABC broadcasts in all of the country’s eleven official languages to serve its linguistically diverse population. Although English is the language most widely understood in
Apart from the SABC, other local content providers have been doing a great deal in trying to infuse elements of culture propagation in their programmes. This they do through an aggressive pro-local approach to programme packaging. But while it may be argued that there is a lot of local content on Nigerian TV today, it is imperative to point out that true local content is the creation and dissemination of programmes expressing a people’s knowledge and experience the communication of which provides the people with an avenue to express their own ideas, knowledge and culture in their own language. And this is not what the array of foreign programmes or locally produced programmes on Nigerian TV stations that reflect foreign lifestyles and values more than those of the local people suggest.
In contrast to our NTA for instance, most of the drama series on SABC are in one South African language or the other. As such there are drama series in Afrikaans, Zulu, Tsonga, Setswana etc with English subtitles. While some are exclusively in indigenous languages with English subtitles, others like Generations and Isidingo for instance are in both English and indigenous languages with appropriate English translation to reach out to both English-speaking and non English-speaking audiences. Language is of special significance in the analysis of culture because it is a community-based art form that serves as the bridge to understanding a culture. Without language we cannot truly understand the traditions of a culture for language holds knowledge about the identity of a people. Therefore, once we start to lose our ability with our languages, we begin to lose knowledge – indigenous knowledge that is important for sustainable development – about ourselves.
Beyond language, there is also the deliberate attempt at positively highlighting other elements of the people’s culture. In Generations for instance, lobola, the Zulu tradition of determining bride price in terms of number of cows, is always portrayed as an inevitable prelude to marriage. In contrast to our emphasis of Western-style and religious marital rites as being more ideal rites in our drama or movies, the lobola is depicted as a practice that should and will never fade out in relevance in the face of more ‘exotic’ marital rites.
Apart from the lobola, there is also a deliberate attempt to emphasize the positive impact of a Sangoma – a traditional practitioner of herbal medicine, divination and counseling (of the Xhosa, Ndebele, Swazi, Zulu, Tsonga and Sotho people) – to the South African society (see the South African movie, Mr. Bones). In
This pro-local approach to entertainment is already yielding fruits for
But Oscars or not we must pay adequate attention to promoting our rich and diverse cultural experiences for the sake of our future. And this is a task that requires more than a negligible number of ‘patriotic’ minds and hands in certain brackets of the media and entertainment segment of our society. The ball is in the court of the government through the tourism and culture ministry in particular as well as local content providers and TV and movie producers.