Western Imitation or any suitable title -By Isa Eneye Mubarak

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Isa Eneye Mubarak


The adventures of Europe into Africa were masqueraded under the notion of European’s civilizing mission in Africa. Out of that Africans became colonial victims, slaves, subjects of apartheid, cultural orphans loyal to European products and ideals, and lost control over their resources. Centuries later, the subject has changed, but the agenda has not. The assault on African agency is justified with the West constantly feeling the need to play parent and Tarzan. Deep down the underlying ideology is the belief that Africa’s destiny is to become more “European .”

The advent of Western civilisation in the form of music, beauty pageants and “indecent” dressing portrayed by fashion, apparently cast a dark shadow over the pride of African beauty.

Different societies have different ideas about beauty. There is no universal definition of beauty. The established western beauty ideal is tall, thin, blonde, bony and straight through the hip while in Africa we perceive beauty as someone with full, rounded, linear and symmetrical figure.

All we seem to have done, or seems to be doing, is to copy and imitate the west, especially the United States and Britain. Like parrots, we imitate without understanding why the west acts and or live their lives in certain ways. Hence our major challenges with homosexuality and feminism.

We bleach our skin, we imitate ideas, belief systems, social scripts, fashion, sexual lifestyle and arts and culture so much so we are steadily becoming a shell of our former selves.

A person’s inability to use the cutlery properly becomes an issue, you will certainly be seen as ‘local’. However, I believe African etiquettes and European etiquettes are different things, so is our moral values, formality, culture. But we cant distinguish between the both, because everyday we are becoming more ‘Europeanized’

Virtually, in all Nigerian movies — the Nollywood movies, for the most part, hear men and women who speak in convoluted voices: accents that are not Nigerian nor American, British, or of any decent society. Whose culture or accent are they trying to imitate?

Recently, Halloween is being celebrated in some parts of Nigeria. Who are we? What does it mean to be a Nigerian or African? No one seems to know anymore as our humanity and our essence and our way of life seems to be eroding at a rapid pace. I am all for change, but change must be meaningful, beneficial, and enriching.

Everything African is bad; but everything western — no matter how horrific — is both good and elegant. I wonder who sets all this standards for us to follow. Because it’s gradually becoming obvious and glaring to see that the more you act like the western worlds, the more intelligent, the more civilized and polished people take you to be. And doing otherwise, makes you local, backwards or not civilized.

This is why regardless of how much culture, ideology, and philosophy African throws back it is all considered “backward.” Africa’s position, which contrast those of Europe, are therefore at odds with logic and humanity—according to Western humanist. Polygamy is backward, FGC (not FGM) is brutal, Islam is oppressive, dowry is degrading to women, Christianity is a colonial remnant, and on and on.

As Africans, we’ve been basically programmed to believe that whatever our beliefs and cultures are, they are uncivilized and therefore should be abandoned. Hence, the need to be ‘civilized’ or ‘modern’ left us to have no standard of beauty, sexuality, morals, table manners, dress sense of our own with no other plausible option than to imitate the western world.

Which begs me to ask this question;

Are Africans only civilized once they have assimilated all of the habits and customs of the West?

In the name of being ‘civilized’, ‘polished’, and ‘modern’, we throw away our beliefs just so we seem cool to people that really could care less about us. When did it become fashionable to imitate frivolity or silliness?

We are defined not by our black skin but by our values. Africans are not people with dark color, we are people we specific cultures. To keep alive the traditions which best represent that which makes us unique and defines our African orientation and sensibility: These things are self-determined.

Isa Eneye Mubarak
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