Culture has many definitions, one of which is: “A culture is a way of life of a group of people–the behaviours, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next”. Logically culture is an integral part of the identity of all individuals, irrespective of their gender or race.
Culture like all things is susceptible to time; time is the one element that has the ability to over come even the most powerful of forces. Consider the way of life of human kind centuries back, whether male or female, black or white (and all races in between) all man at some point in time lived as hunter gatherers, irrespective of their culture. The era of society has always, and will always affect the general status quo. This however has never changed the inclination of people to follow the ways of their respective cultures.
This is the case in the 21st century, take China for example. China has established itself as one of the world’s economic super powers, yet is very much a society that embraces ancient cultural beliefs and practices. The whole world knows of ancient Chinese Kung Fu, we love their food and all other things commercially representative of authentic Chinese culture.
It would be utterly shameful not to make mention of the Indian culture in this context. This is yet, another example of a culture that has permeated nations far and wide. What would curry be without Indian cuisine? We are all familiar with the marks of Indian culture, in fact they are so deeply entrenched in modern society that they are very much a part of global culture.
In essence all this is proof that it is indeed possible for culture to survive the fast pace, thechno driven era in which we currently exist. Perhaps not fully, but certainly possible when people display a certain level of value to their ways, willingness to gain and retain knowledge of their customs, resistance to the times and actively engage in their cultural practices.
Ok let’s take it home.
South Africa is multi cultural, yet is also on its way to fully fledged “modernised”. Culture in this country is admittedly followed to differing levels amongst the various races and areas for many different reasons. However here is what we cannot ignore; of all the races and cultures which make up South Africa, the indigenous African cultures of the “black” races are dying more rapidly when compared to the rest.
Take language for example, more and more households, particularly those of the so called black races communicate in English. It has become commonplace to hear, “mommy can get a toy or mommy can I have a sweet” among many black toddlers at grocery stores. Furthermore, the subliminal nature in which English is made use of in black on black communication. Other adopted black cultural practices include the “white wedding, bridal showers, engagement parties, birthdays etc.
In the incredible shift of cultural practices within this specific group of people, one can’t help but wonder how it is that other cultures survive more than others. Consider the Afrikaaner or English (western) culture for example, we have yet to witness either of these cultural groups develop a strong enough liking to any culture to compromise their own. My suspicion is we will possibly never see these groups assume the lobola practice, Umemulo, Hushubediswa, kweluka or speak Zulu, Xhosa, Tshwana etc.
One might argue that there are people of these cultural groups that have embraced other cultures, yet it is undeniable that western culture is the most widely followed culture globally. In fact, it is perhaps one culture that represents complete dominance of a single culture both locally and internationally. Western culture is so strongly infused with the current era that in many instances it forms the bases of legal systems, economic systems, governance and all that controls our existence as humankind.
It is clear that no one culture remains unscathed by the evolution and innovation of society in general. What is clearer regarding culture (particularly in South Africa), is the tendency of specific groups to submit to unfamiliar cultural values and forgo all that is authentic and true to themselves as a people. Could it be that this trend is representative of people and their ability to influence others and control them as though they were puppets, train them how to change themselves, in order to resemble a more acceptable form of humanity?