May 25, 2012 went almost unnoticed in Malawi despite the many ambitious projects that aim at saving what we are slowly losing since the early missionaries told us that our culture was incompatible with Christianity therefore if we fol¬lowed our archaic ways, we will be condemned to the under¬world.
May 25 is significant in many ways. As a historian, it is the day that symbolises Africa's unity although the proponents of Organisation of African Unity might be tossing in their graves angered by the rate at which we are abandoning their dream. They dreamt of a United Africa that would shape its own economic path, they envisaged a United Africa that will solve its own problems, they ideated a peace¬ful Africa that will be founded on rich cultural teachings respecting humanity and not one disregarding human life.
The leaders of independent Africa at the time did well to found the Organisation of African Unity. OAU has since been replaced by African Union. But still, it is more of the same old story; civil strife in Africa, hunger, disease and corruption.
These ills are easy choices for Western media when they try to sensationalise the bad that Africa has been for ages. We might love our Africa but they continue to paint an exaggerated picture of us. If we are indeed what we are the way they portray us, then we must not forget who has contributed to our suffering; who has sponsored these civil wars? Who has aided the rise of corrupt African leaders? Whose policies have only worsened Africa's economy? These questions might be debated some day.
The focus now should be African artists and the way they have portrayed the continent. Africa has been smeared by people who want to prove that the bad they preach about Africa is true. We have a lot of good in Africa, the languages we speak are such a treasure. I have little respect for artists who by abandoning their language, promote foreign languages yet they
want their music to be classified as African. The artists' usage of foreign language might be dictated by the demands of the music market but they must not reach the point of idolising such languages while ignoring languages of their ancestors.
Africa has been spoilt by politicians whose policies have done more harm to the con¬tinent. We need to question the language policies but at the same time be cautious to avoid the Kiswahilli disaster in Tanzania.
Is it not shameful that our universities, some have departments of languages are not doing enough to preserve the dying languages? Since civilisation –which unfor¬tunately regards African culture as barbaric or primitive – we have allowed influences of Western culture to dilute what would better define us in form of music, beliefs, dressing and more.
The supremacy of Western culture is well-documented. The understanding that culture is not homogenous, that it contin¬ues to evolve, has left the modern genera¬tion craving for improvements of what is deemed archaic by the Westerners. Yet improvement of those archaic beliefs does not mean copying everything Western.
As we continue to denounce our culture, the result is very obvious; it is not surpris¬ing that Western education has denigrated what our forefathers jealously guarded since the days of Christianity -- whose teachings were incompatible with our way of life.
Since culture continues to evolve, the language that we should hear so often is preserving our culture or we risk losing everything. The Western education that we pursue opens our eyes they say, it is not surprising that once we do enough of that education, we finally view our customs and traditions as barbaric.
Our hunger for Western education is so much entrenched in our beliefs that even if cultural activities were to be incorpo¬rated into our school curriculum, we have sell-outs who prefer high schools for their children. But what you find in the curriculum of international high schools is not always relevant.
There is no debating that lan¬guage is part of our culture. We are raising children who will grow up not knowing zilape, nthano, mi¬kuluwiko or miyambi. The influence of Western culture is so deplor¬able that children will grow up not knowing where they came from.
But can we blame the youth of to¬day? Would you blame the youth if all we can give them is a Western-style education that only justifies the backwardness of our culture? We are glad that our children learn about Western civilisation, medi¬cine, history, astronomy, anthropol¬ogy and philosophy.
It is therefore sad that educated people have been brainwashed by Western education and I wonder how much they can offer to pre¬serve our languages, our traditions, our way of life.