Yesterday, while on a public transport I overheard two Africans having a discussion. The content of their discussion is not relevant here. However, the accusation leveled by one against the other merits my attention and comment. When his friend, during the course of their conversation refused to toe his line of argument, he got angry and accused him of being too westernized.
In fact, this is not the first time I have heard this type of conversation or accusation. Many times in the past, I have heard fellow Africans accuse other Africans of being too westernized as if there is anything wrong with westernization. I do not think that there is anything wrong with westernization. What I think is wrong is those accusing others of being too westernized. They are like the Pharisees and Sadducees and you must beware of them. Imagine the pot calling the kettle black!
By the way, for these Africans accusing their kinsmen of being too westernized or brainwashed with western ideas, the main question should be: who is actually more 'westernized' and 'brainwashed'? The accused or the accuser? Let us put it this way, is it the one who realized that he has been making a mistake and stopped making that mistake and reformed his views and opinions to be in line with modern thinking, discoveries and advances in science, technology and humanities or the one who refused and who had already abandoned his own religion (African Tradition Religion) to embrace a completely different religion from that of his ancestors?
How about the one who completely rejected the way his people dress (African wears) and now dresses like westerners (suit, jeans, t-shirt, tie, etc.) and even wear western perfumes like Dior, Channel, etc.? They even abandoned their traditional means of transport (walking, animals) to embrace cars and trains and live in pent houses instead of thatched houses, which are all western ideas and inventions. I thought that being anti-western in ideology, they would have preferred living on the trees, walking about naked and saying no to western benefits and inventions.
How about the man who forgot the wisdom of his people and the way they acquire these wisdoms under the tree to embrace western wisdom and education to the extent of acquiring university education up to PhD level and even using product of this way of education like mobile phones, laptops, and other computers you are using now to read this.
How about the man who travelled thousands of miles to come and live in the west forgetting his claim that his culture is more superior and full of morals compared to that of the west? What is he still doing in the west? Africa is a vast continent with huge fauna and flora. Why has he not gone back Africa to flourish and shower in that morality and wisdom? By the way, how did he come to the west? By flying like a bird, walking or swimming across rivers and oceans? He must have come here through one of those western inventions (airplane) he condemns on daily basis!
And this brings me to a very important question: since when did integration become an offence? Isn’t it a good idea to do as Romans do when in Rome? Or do you want the natives to tell us to pack our bag, book the next flight and go home and never come back? I completely support the idea of adapting to a new culture if in the first place you made a conscious decision to come and live in that culture. And this includes respecting the cultures, laws and values of your host country. If you leave Nigeria to live in Ghana, it is a moral imperative that you have to adapt to their cultures by respecting their laws and values. Do not get me wrong. I am not advocating abandoning your own culture. Of course, no culture can claim to be the best. Every culture has got something good, bad and or ugly in them. However, what I am saying is that if you make a decision to leave your country to live elsewhere, you must also respect the cultures, values and laws of your host country. That is my understanding of what a decent, educated gentleman is.
It is actually for this reason that here in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in order to naturalize as a British Citizen, amongst other requirements, you must also provide evidence of proficiency in English Language by proving that you are from a majority English language country or by sitting and passing English Language to an acceptable standard for immigration purposes. You must also take and pass ‘Life in the UK’ examination. This is to ensure that you are well integrated at the end of the day.
And the moral of this short piece is that my African brothers and sisters should learn how to shut their mouth if they have nothing meaningful and useful to say. A culture rightly said that silence is golden. I am not trying to put down African culture and 'morality'. No. That is not the intention behind this piece. However, I am trying to point out that sometimes it is always good to think out of the box before talking.
The world does not begin and end in Africa. There are other continents apart from Africa. And bearing in mind that there are now close to 200 countries in the world, it is important to borrow from each other. Borrowing from others is not a sign of weakness or lack of civilization but a humble acknowledgment that the other person is doing something better than the way you are accustomed to. It is for this reason that it is said that no man is an island.