|Bottle-necks of Development in Africa (HABITAT)|
All human beings have their traditional culture, knowledge, language, wisdom, spiritual heritage and values. These have been accumulated in the course of their life experiences for thousands of years since mankind started roaming this planet. This heritage is therefore, much older than the Dead Sea Scrolls, many scriptures, masterpieces of literature and music, and of course modern media which now shapes our perception of ourselves. By comparison, the oldest of these written records are barely 5,000 years!
The African people's heritage is their historical record which has been passed from one generation to another and which directs communities in times of peace, insecurity and in times of birth, life and death. This heritage gives them self-identity, self-confidence and self-respect. It allows them to be in harmony with their physical and spiritual environment. It is the basis for their personal peace, or lack of it.
This heritage also enhances their capacity for self-leadership, decision making and self-guidance. It is their antennae into the unknown future and their reference point into their past. Without such guidelines in the community there can be no peace at the personal or even at the community level. Such a community becomes weakened and eventually, disintegrates.
While some people have invented the art of reading and writing and have been able to record their accumulated heritage in scriptures, history and literature books, art and music, philosophy and metaphysics etc., others have so far passed it through oral instructions, stories, mythologies, ceremonies, customs, habits and values.
Through years of domination, many of the African people have been robbed of their heritage which has been relegated to archives of primitive cultures and paganism, witchcraft and satanism. That perception has brought confusion, doubts and misunderstanding. That is why it was significant that in December, 1994 the Archbishop of Caterburry, Archbishop Carey, accepted that some missionaries erred when they condemned all aspects of African culture and relegated it to the devilish and pagan witchcraft. He apologized for the wrongs done and hoped that this wrong be put right and restore confidence and self-respect to the African way of life.
Unfortunately, the damage has been so total that one wonders if any of the religious leaders in the country heard that message, let alone dare do anything about it.
Partly because of this aldultration of the African culture, Africa denies its diversity by encouraging the destruction of the different cultural heritages of various communities. By denying the cultural identity of communities governments hope that tribal nationalism would evaporate.
This state of adulteration may not last much longer because sooner or later a disempowered community begins to ask itself soul-searching questions on how to re-empower itself, liberate itself, and overcome divisive foreign concepts introduced into the community to weaken it politically, economically and culturally.
For Africans were de-culturalized in ways intended to de-mystify, demean and devastate their personality and leave them unclear about their identity, values, and spirituality. Many foreigners even believed, and taught, that the African culture and spirituality were an impediment to progress and should be discarded. This has given the African an inferiority complex which in turn, legitimates holding them in contempt and demeaning and discreding everything about them. In the meantime, other people's heritage has been glorified and forced upon them as being spiritually and materially superior. Such heritage is given as the answer to their material and spiritual impoverishment. But this has failed to give them identity, self-pride, confidence and hope. At best it only provides them with a place to escape to and hide to survive.
By the end of the process of colonization, de-culturalization and despiritualization of Africans had become perfected. They had no country, no capital, no culture and no spiritual philosophy to guide them. They almost came to believe that in order to become like the West they had to adopt the culture, religion, language, ideologies. money, dress etc. of the West. Also, to be guided by expatriates from the West. That belief has brought many Africans to the present dilemma.