I have been writing a lot about traditional society and Western Society lately, so I thought it might be time to set a few things straight - things that for me as a person living in Africa are quite obvious, but that might not be for my readers, who might have never visited an african or other 'Third World' (you know I hate that terminology) country.
- Traditional societies might be heading down the path of extinction faster than the polar bear. In fact, there are only very few communities on earth still untouched by 'civilization' (rather intresting term because one might ask if we are indeed as civilized as we tend to believe). Of course there are some communities who have been discovered but who chose to remain authentic, but they are very rare. Even though the African countries I have lived in are still a lot more in tune with nature than any Western country I have visited - they have been corrupted by colonization and the draw of industrialized glitter. They are probably rather far away from traditional and they will never be the same again. One can only hope that they maintain some cultural integrity, but I fear that is idle hope.
- In no way can we learn about traditional societies, because learning of them would either mean we 'invade' them for study, or we come across one of them to retract information both options will give tainted results, for they involve bringing them into contact with industrialization.
- Any view of traditional society we might have or come across is tainted by our personal world view. Even after living in Africa for four years, I still hold my Western hegemonic views and - though I would gladly shed them - I will never view Africa, or other societies uncolored by my previous experiences and by my worldview.
- There is not one bulk 'Third World', there is not even one bulk 'Africa'. There is no way we can compare Asian countries to African countries and there are huge discrepancies between the different countries in Africa, even in Sub-Saharian Africa. I have thus far visited and or lived in 5 different African countries and all I see is differences.
- Africa is not (only) dying children, hungry people and elephants on Serengeti plains. Africa is not a vessel of poor little people who need savior.
- The more traditional approaches - however close to nature - do not hold all the answers to life and are often very flawed. They often employ superstitious practices and counterintuitive beliefs.
We have a great deal to re-learn and can indeed base some of this rediscovery of mankind on traditional societies, but this does not mean we need to shed all the knowledge 'civilization' has gained. We should look at cultural practices like a fruit salad. Cut up the different fruits (cultures) and cut out the rotten parts, then throw it all in a bowl and stir.