Commentaries and Analyses Index

Globalisation: Culprit Of Cultural Decay Indeed

LUSAKA, June 1 - Home Affairs Minister, Ronnie Shikapwasha's recent observation that globalisation is to blame for culture decay is one bone that should have been chewed some light years ago.

As it is, the very principle of economic amalgamation which is meant to reduce the world into a "global village" is now so deeply entrenched that uprooting it is virtually impossible.

What should have been adequately explained to the developing world when this concept was being advertised is that globalisation has a huge but invisible price tag around its neck.

When former US President, Bill Clinton said the words "globalise or die" at one of the several World Trade Organisation meetings, he was simply saying there was no option for the poor.

In other words, join hands with the captain of the ship or be tossed out into troubled waters like prophet Jonah!

Only today can developing countries realise that globalisation has many side effects that may take ages to medicate.

For starters, it has not brought about the expected economic elevation for developing countries that have looped their trade markets to the West.

If anything, it has only served to empower the rich nations of the world which have taken advantage of the poorer nations' weak financial standing.

Secondly - and this is Lieutenant General Shikapwasha's lamentation- globalisation has eroded the moral and cultural fibre of these societies to an extent where they lose their identities.

Alluding specifically to the overzealous use of the internet, General Shikapwasha said though technology had played a major role in breaking communication barriers among countries, cultural preservation was of extreme importance.

One certainly cannot disprove the fact that technology, the siamese twin of globalisation, has a bright side which can only be ignored at one's own peril.

Not only has it plucked out the scales that once blinded nations from a holistic view of world events and issues, it has also hastened the pace of civilisation to mankind's benefit.

With one click of a key on a computer and you have the whole world at your fingertips, enabling you to know the goings-on in the uttermost parts of the globe.

Small wonder the astounding breakthroughs in medicine, astronomy, education, transport, sport, and the arts as nations interact through modern technology.

It is the flip side of these breakthroughs, however, which is posing a lot of concerns where preservation of morals and culture is concerned.

Simply by the fact that values vary from society to society means that some of the things that are acceptable to one can be incompatible or even abominable to another.

Western societies for instance, tend to have fluid family values which entertain certain behaviours which are totally unacceptable to African society.

A typical example was a recent case in Denmark where an Information Technology (IT) company there gave all its employees free subscriptions to internet pornography sites.

The company, LL Media of Nordjylland, argued that the gesture was a bid to stop its staff accessing adult material at work.

LL Media Company director, Levi Nielsen believes access to pornography is a natural fringe benefit, like a free phone or company car.

According to the Ananova report, Nielsen hoped the move would make his men relax and become "more efficient on the job".

Try that in Zambia and you will have the labour movement, the Church and law itself to answer to.

Another example of Western society's permissiveness is US's Hollywood film industry that brims with enough obscenity to make Lucifer himself grimace!

And what about the wave of sexual hysteria that has peverted a once conscientious music industry which - thanks to globalisation - has become the towering idol for a sinking world.

Acceptable maybe, if these trends would remain in those societies where they belong and are accepted but the very fact that they filter through to the rest of the world is a source of concern.

At least to Gen Shikapwasha and the rest of Christian Zambia and Africa who believe in the culture of moral uprightness.

The question then is: Is there really a way of preserving African culture in a world that is dominated by the West?

Take a walk on any of Zambia's streets and you will see Western culture personified in the shameful dress patterns especially among female adolescents.

With the tick of the clock, the word modesty as pertains to dressing has lost its meaning.

The so called "sokola hip" (hipsters) and skimpy skirts designed and worn to attract straying eyes are a product of foreign (Western) cultures that are an afront to our African tradition.

And the word there is "acculturation", the collision of two cultures which culminates in the dominant culture suppressing the recessive one.

In this case, African culture has been significantly eroded by the cultures of the rich West through one mechanism - GLOBALISATION.

The real tip of the spear is that as much as the wind of globalisation is irreversible, there is much we as Zambians and Africans can do to protect our cultural heritage and identity.

That only begins the moment we realise that it is not necessarily economic prosperity that gives us value and esteem but the knowledge of who we truly are in the eyes of God.

By Chansa Mulalami
The Times of Zambia / allAfrica Global Media

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