Cultural Imperialism – I




Photos – Top – Author with a First Nation’s Chief
Middle – Two First Nation’s women in their traditional garb
Above – Some Fulani women from northern Nigeria (courtesy Aliyu Muhammad Bajaj)


The phrase ‘cultural imperialism’ took a new turn in Afro-american relations recently. Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni used it to justify signing the rehashed anti-gay bill into law. This is not the subject of this write-up. But it could well be.

Cultural imperialism is a way of presenting a different culture as superior to theirs. Some have argued that this is what led to the stealing of several African arts and cultural artefacts by imperialists. The west imposed its culture on Africans at colonization and continues to do so till date. If you think it ended with the arrival of Christianity or Islam, you may be wrong.

Check your television sets. Who taught little children to ‘swag’ or wear their pants way below the belt? Who thought of packaging other people’s hair as supplement in the form of wigs, and later Brazilian hair? Who packaged mercury as component of soaps for our women to bleach? Most Africans look at the Church or Mosque as the repository of cultural imperialism, it’s only an infinitesimal part of the jigsaw.

 There’s a lot to say for the advent of foreign religions in most instances. Some twins owe their lives to missionaries. So do albinos. But we are still behind when it comes to inclusion, and not just of gays for those who believe in that, but for children with peculiar needs. Diagnosing ADHD, aspergers and other diseases and teaching people to accept people with such conditions as humans with equal rights is, in my mind more important than what people do in their bedrooms.

Don’t get me wrong, a huge chunk of our continent and its people are deracinated. What was the mode of dressing in east, central and southern Africa before the arrival of the colonial powers? Are we better off wearing suits than our fluffy dresses?

Scientists have discovered that wearing certain types of pants (undies) can have bad effects on reproductive organs. It is widely known that odour-blocking deodorants are inimical to health and linked to diseases such as memory loss and Alzheimers.

Some of the chemicals in your eyelashes and mascara may soon be found to aid the development of certain skin cancers. It is believed that using baking soda in your armpits works better than most deodorants. It allows your skin to get rid of those unwanted secretions while keeping out the foul smell.

Your comments and contributions are welcome.


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