The erosion of African Social and Cultural values started with the arrival of Europeans to Africa. As Europe’s missionaries, merchants and mercenaries crept into Africa, the contact impact of Western culture with African civilizations has to the erosion of culture and distortion of previous social ways of life on the continent. Over the past two decades (1998-2019), Western culture has thrived and had more influence over Africa’s cultural and social heritage. The adoption of Western culture has mostly involved the youths, who associate it with high living standards. With each new generation being born, more Africans are becoming westernized and abandoning their culture.
African leaders played a significant role into the westernization of Africa
Although the subjugation by, and dominance of, Europeans during the colonial and neo-colonial era is partly to blame, African leaders also played critical roles in westernization. After independence, most African political leaders adopted systems from the west into the governance of their respective states. Many African countries declared English their national language, and Commonwealth countries took to using the British constitution and way of government. Former French colonies declared French as their national languages.
Most of these former colonies championed western culture as the forefront of civilization in schools, while labeling African social norms as archaic and primitive. All these factors have played key roles in influencing today’s generation into becoming more accepting of westernization than their own social and cultural values.
Media and challenging living conditions contributed to the westernization of Africa
TV shows, the internet, social media, and globalization are the modern world’s tools in spreading westernization across Africa. Hollywood movies are more popular than local films and TV shows in a significant number of African countries. Channels air more Western content than content that promotes their own language, culture, and social values.
Upon closer thought and inspection, it is not hard to see why most Africans are inclined toward Western culture. Most of the African countries are plagued with poverty, challenging living standards and weak systems that encourage social vices such as corruption. And yet, in the middle of all this, the political leaders forever thrive and grow wealthier, all the while abandoning their people. Therefore, when Africans view Western countries, they see a paradise where society has reached an optimum peak that fosters every person’s success and well-being. This image creates an illusion in their minds that if Africans became more like Westerners, then they would have a better society.
Suggestions to preserve African social and cultural values
There are steps that Africans can take to prevent African culture and societal values from falling into oblivion. African leaders and learning institutions need to champion these measures, as they are among the biggest influencers in Africa. The new crop of elites that rose from the colonial era should be re-educated and taught on the importance of cultural preservation. Education systems should be refined so that they promote African culture more.
African Governments need to come up with policies that promote the country’s culture and social setting. An example of such a state is Tanzania, which teaches all its subjects in Swahili because that is the national language. Leaders should also strive to fight the vices that cripple the country. They should encourage the communal way of African life that existed before colonization. Communities were more independent then, and they sought to help each member in their time of need.
There is also a necessity to promote African social and cultural values on the global stage, instead of letting them be painted as empty and unacceptable in the public domain. The Afro Asian Journal of Social Sciences is one of the many written works that have expounded on the erosion of African cultural and social values. Its final words summarize that in today’s modern world, Africa needs to interact with other continents for the benefits of trade and technological revolution. However, we still need to maintain our own ways of life and work toward improving our societies without relying on western culture. Once we achieve that, then Africa will have new-found enlightenment.