Self and cultural alienation is an enemy of civilization

By  Muko Ochanda

“I called my first born Nyerere, because Nyerere … helped me to think as an African. … also from the religious point of … view. …. As an African I could see the value in … the religious practices of my people. Mainstream religions dismissed them as devilish (shaitan). This dismissals always made me unsatisfied and I lacked equilibrium between my soul and my beliefs.”

Exposure to Nyerere’s writings made Kuwa to believe in the African spirituality. It made him see the difference between being an African and being an Arab, despite the fact that he had been made to believe that being an Arab was superior than being a Nuba, African. He later admitted that he was wrong all along as he had always been an African from the Nuba Mountains. On the realization of his African-ness, he started lamenting that the educated African in the Nuba has little regard for himself because of being an African. Other ways of life and religion had made him disregard his cultures and hence he or she distances him or herself from it. These enlightened Africans also had no regard at all for their birth place. This inferiority complex makes them ashamed to be called an African or Nuba for that matter.

Yousif found out that there were several things in the African that militated against him or her such as tribalism which made them have little regard for people from other tribes; religion which in essence was an imported phenomenon and had consumed the African mindset to downgrade his own customs instead of enriching them; corruption that was in essence contributing to lopsided distributive justice towards those who could pay; politics which are not driven by higher level ideals; poor self image which made the African see that he was a lesser being in front the people of other races, this was also extended towards seeing the other Africans too as being lesser beings; Africans are also a subject of study by people of other races and not so much the African themselves. These studies hence do not delve deeper to study the essence of the African and to help the African society understand itself fully. Yousif was indignant of the high class Africans who only wanted to be associated with Arabs or other races while looking down upon their own communities and running away from it. This attitude meant that the educated Africans’ role in transforming the value system of the village and peasant African communities was watered down by their lack of self regard which made them disregard their birth places.

Lastly Yousif advices the Africans and the Nuba not to be too submissive to other cultures. Openness to other cultures does not mean blind sublimation in them. In this case Yousif seems to appeal to the process of inculturation which helps to avoid cultural confusion and alienation in the fast evolving modern society. There is need for care in choosing what corresponds to the African culture and what can enrich it while rejecting what diminishes the value of the African culture. Inculturation  includes two dimensions: on the one hand it is the intimate transformation of the authentic cultural values through their integration with other value systems and on the other is the insertion of other value systems in the various African cultures[1].

Hence culture is the soul of a people. It should not be sold, replaced or destroyed but transformed. This soul is the vehicle of wisdom and is a precious source of material for inspiration in building a civilization. Hence, what would it benefit a man or a woman if he or she got the whole world and lost his own soul?[2] Nothing! With this soul (culture) intact in the African , they will slowly work towards full human dignity, acquire self confidence, be helpful to their neighbours and lastly work towards creating their wealth in a honest and just way; what Yousif calls “I shall build my civilization.” Hence, no matter how an African pretends to be someone else, by way of life, appearance or adoption of other cultures, in the long run he or she remains an African. A belief in the Africanness therefore is a great asset towards building the African civilization and richness. It is the tool that will assist Africa to avoid being the most trivialized continent in the whole world and which will make Africans think in terms of investing there in.

Africans need to be attracted to Africa and not to run away from it.

[1] Pope John Paul II (2000), Ecclesia in Africa. Holy See.

[2] Ibid


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Deng Mangok Ayuel
    May 23, 2014 @ 08:44:26

    Reblogged this on The Shoeshiner's Eyes.



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