Here’s a short excerpt:
In the West, the rights of the individual are seen as the most important thing. In Africa, people are not that important. An individual is seen in terms of his or her relation to others – as a brother, a father, a son, a Muslim, a Diola and so on. Perhaps this explains why birthdays are rarely known and not celebrated. Each of these relationships carries cultural obligations and expectations which are more important than individual rights if Africans had a free choice.
It was when I realised this that I could start to understand the clash of cultures when people want to impose Western values, and can’t understand the thinking that rejects them – the right of a child to go to school as opposed to helping in the fields, the rights for somebody to be in a homosexual relationship rather than to marry and produce children within the community. It isn’t necessarily right, but I think helps explain. Then you can throw into the equation the belief that failure to maintain traditions of ancestors brings bad luck.
It’s somewhat ironic that what I love about living here is the freedom from expectations and obligations of my own culture.
Published 28th September, 2016.