Zimbabwe: Loss of Culture in Zimbabwe Shocks Diasporans

A person usually loses culture because of a change in environment.

Such a change may be due to immigration and when an individual attempts to merge many different cultures into one, the individual ends up with no culture at all. The culture of a people is their identity as it affords them due recognition.

It has been found that there is a positive relationship between the local family structure and the foreign culture. In sub-Saharan Africa, people and culture are inseparable since there is no denial of the fact that what makes any human society is its culture; a Latin word which was derived from “colore” meaning to practice or cherish. A society must be cultural and therefore, society and culture are intertwined.

In the same vein, going by the theory of environmental determinism, the culture of any society is largely dictated by its geography. Put in another way, there is conspicuous sociological interplay among the concepts of culture, nurture, and nature.

Zimbabweans in diaspora are comforted by the thought that one day, they will send their children back home to learn and understand the Zimbabwean culture. Many have cultivated the thought of sending their children to Zimbabwe for cultural lessons as a noble idea.

In this thought, the reality from Zimbabwe is disappointing. It cuts through the soft spots of the heart giving a sharp pain of disappointment.

Zimbabweans back home are losing their identity, their culture and values. It seems those who remained in the country have failed to hold fort and they are giving more value to everything from the West more than our own.

It is painful that modernisation is now ruining our culture. Culture is the identity or feeling of belonging to a group. It is part of a person’s self-conception and self-perception and is related to nationality, ethnicity, religion, social class, generation, locality or any kind of social group.

Cultural (and ethnic) identity is a subset of the communication theory of identity that establishes four ‘frames of identity’ that allow us to view how we build identity.

Mika Shumba of Milton Keynes, the United Kingdom said: “I was horrified during the burial of the late national hero Oliver Mtukudzi that a Zimbabwean dancer offended our culture by her raunchy dance style in honour of Mtukudzi.”

Some songs played on national radio stations are vulgar.

A tradition is a belief or behaviour passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance originating in the past. Common examples include social norms such as greetings.

Traditions can persist and evolve for thousands of years–the word tradition itself derives from the Latin term tradere, literally meaning to transmit, to hand over or to give for safekeeping.

While it is commonly assumed that traditions have ancient history, many traditions have been invented on purpose, whether that be political or cultural, over short periods of time.

In local communities and, indeed, throughout the world, people simultaneously operate in multiple spheres of knowledge in both purposeful and unintentional ways.

While it’s true that globalisation has taken its toll on the world, it continues to blend cultures at an extraordinary rate, integrating customs, values and traditions.

In many parts of the world, this process has had a profoundly positive effect and eradicated some of the worst practices of racism, xenophobia and other injustices that have plagued the human race throughout history. But with it, globalization has also ushered in an era filled with lost culture and identity.

Sekuru Taruvinga of Kettering, Northamptonshire, lamented the erosion culture in Zimbabwe.

He was shocked by the words in the music played on our local stations. He singled out Baba Harare who trades vulgarity under the guise of jiti music. Baba Harare sings about Nzimbe inobvira kumusoro ichinaka . . . If one listens and reads between the lines, you will see the vulgarity being planted in our children.

Sekuru Taruvinga said if a song is played on a national radio station, it will appear as if it is normal to sing and dance to it.

For those of us who have spent time abroad, the process is that little bit more difficult. Living on the fence, understanding the logic and benefits of both sides, the struggle is ongoing to identify ways to combine inherited and adopted values and put them into one identity. So much so that many eventually end up lost or isolated.

Lessons could be learnt from Mtukudzi. Without lurid content, Mtukudzi conquered the world of music. He did not need to introduce suggestive dancing in order to become a hero. He maintained his dignity and remained on top of his profession These ambassadors of progress fully understand their potential and the vital importance of their role as representatives of change and development. They never cross the line of decency to gain fame.

Absolom Kunzwa from Liverpool said: “The force of globalisation is unstoppable and to resist it would be to live in denial. But a balance must be struck between the old and the new. That balance should be the one that keeps an open mind to change and development, but also ensures the culture of Zimbabwe is at the heart of all plans mapped out for the country.

“An investment must be made that recognises those who hold the invaluable keys of the past and uniqueness of Zimbabwean culture in their hands, alongside citizens who have lived and fully understood and experienced foreign cultures.”

“Rather than stumble into the trap that so many other countries have fallen into before – one that results in a loss of their own identity to make way for progress – a more balanced approach should be adopted, one that supports being conservative and is progressive at the same time.”

Marylyn of Corby added: “A partnership must be built between both groups, allowing them to work side by side to map out the future of the country together, with the goal of having Zimbabwe stand as one of the world’s great countries. The preservation of our culture should be the foundation stone of this path, while it also respects and values the diversity and advancement of other nations.”

While there is a need to change, we cannot afford to get lost in the cultural wilderness. Auntie Marian of Corby described how a funeral service was turned into a pornographic show with suggestive dances and provocative songs.

While it is our culture to ease the pain at a funeral by imitating the life of the deceased or retracing his or her trades in a jocular way, some trades cannot be promoted for good cultural traits.

The behaviour of most people at funerals of those who made a living out of dark professions promotes the behaviours which are normally frowned upon by society. They take pride in things which are naturally forbidden and put them in a limelight. One thinks twice if this is the culture you might want to send your children to.

Indeed, Zimbabweans abroad are enveloped in a dilemma.

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