Heritage: An everyday struggle - the influence of the north to the global south

By Themba Mnguni, Assistance Commissioning Editor, SABC Formal Education - It is common knowledge that South Africa and Africa in its entirety is a culturaly rich and diverse nation. Traces of this argument can be linked to a period in history i.e. before, during and post colonization.

Most African cultures have been orthodoxical and dogmatic in their approach; in this sense culture would dictate and inform the behaviour of a man from a moment when he is born to the moment he dies. In this sense culture has always made behaviour of a man predictable and known one, to himself and the society as whole. Hence during history most African societies have been living in harmony with few to almost no forces of threat undermining social harmony, order and stability. I must say then life must have been nice.

However, the period of enlightenment, civilization and globalization has had impact on culture and the way we lid and conduct our lives as people of global south today. Critical studies on this argument have made been popular by scholars and critics of globalization leading to the proliferation of discourses such as de-westernization, cultural imperialism, neo-colonization and others.

The argument that this article tries to detail is that culture in not static, but flexible and subject to change. Also, that there is a question of power, influence and subjectivity that we as informed citizens need not to escape. A look to the left, right all we see is, self-hate, Americanization, McDonaldisation and Cocacolisation, in this midst the notion and discourse of Africanisation is missing. The latter part of the argument is often associated with negative stereotypes such as, strife, poverty, AIDS, rogues government, illiteracy and others.

Indeed the flow of culture and its representation in the global system is and has not been on our favour as the people of the south. We can no longer hold the blame to the west/ north for the death of our culture, its identity and representation in the system.

We people of the south need to take an active stand in defending, promoting and protecting our culture and its value from ourselves and others. With public broadcasters such as the SABC the war can be won. African public broadcasters need to invest resources in the acquisition of African content and promotion of local talent and heritage.

The state need to play an active role as well and embed on the national calendar days of cultural significance as such is the case in SA. In South Africa the 24th of September is a very important day. The day is made vibrant by South Africans, celebrating and symbolizing their ethical cultures through traditional cooks, clothing, language, dance and music, this is across different race, class and ethnic groups. In my view the day marks the element of resistance to western imperialisation and its forms.

Also, in retaining our heritage, the focus need not only be on the state and media alone. Private/ individual citizens also need to play a proactive role in enforcing and promoting our heritage within their private social space. Social movements need to contribute to the agenda as well through advocacy, education and litigation.

As I end, it is important that we honour and celebrate our heritage and source more information about our identity and being as the nation from older generations and other sources of information. Let not our global identity define and override our social identity. Instead of glolocalisation, we should opt for loglocalisation.

Let us treasure who we are and take pride in our diverse heritage. May the Braai day be pleasing to all, across spectrums of race, class and gender! 

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