Sep 25, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

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We Are The Stories We Tell Ourselves: Safeguarding Culture Through Creative Investments –

“We are the stories we tell ourselves. The stories we tell ourselves are the stories that define the possibilities of our existence… I exist because there are stories, and if there are no stories, I don’t exist.” – Shekhar Kapur

Defining culture has not always been easy, it is the collection of Behaviors, ideas, social norms and beliefs peculiar to a particular subgroup of people or society. It is the “way of life” that is passed from one generation to the next through learning. Scholars like Professor Geert Hofstede, a notable social psychologist, define culture as “the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another”.

Culture is not an act of God. It is not an uncontrollable example of natural forces at work in which we play a tiny role. Culture is complex and cannot exist in its complexity without us. Just as society cannot function without culture, culture cannot function without society, without our playing our role as individuals in the ecosystem we call life. Yet within this complexity lies the truth that while culture cannot cease to exist if people remain, culture can fade if not preserved and celebrated.

If As the world becomes more homogeneous in trends, tastes and consumer behavior, with the United States of America as the flagship, many societies are merging their cultures with these prominent societies to appear more evolved. Over the years it has become clear that homogeneity can come at the expense of culture when it is unbridled and unstructured.

This process can be viewed positively as carried out by French-American immigrants will J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, who wrote that in America, “Individuals of all nations have fused into a new race of men, whose labors and offspring will one day work great changes in the world.” As in smelting metals will the merging of cultures then produce a particular connection (culture) that is stronger and more beneficial than its elements class=”align-left”>However, homogeneity per se is not a bad thing. It is not the opposite of culture, but a tool that we can use to expand our culture and therefore our worldview. This school of thought, with growing support from scholars and social scientists, uses the theory of cultural homogeneity as a “salad bowl”. Rather than abandoning their own cultural idiosyncrasies to conform to the standards of mainstream society, minorities should combine their cultures with others and still maintain their own cultural identity. As a salad bowl, we celebrate our diversity alongside our unity, becoming a great integration of unique, diverse cultures. An integration where cultural homogeneity does not mean that we lose ourselves, but offers the opportunity to gain a part of ourselves that we didn’t know was missing.

Hand in hand with cultural homogeneity comes the opening of borders and the expansion of ideologies. For Nigerians, it has allowed us to understand the value of telling the world our stories instead of the world telling us our story.

As the world moves closer to this school of thought and appreciate the benefits of cultural homogeneity, there is a need for greater investment in African creatives and African stories. It is only through these investments that we will be able to preserve our culture and show the world who we are through our perspectives.

Recently Terra Kulture’s Terra Academy For The Arts (TAFTA) in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation aims to train 65,000 young creatives aged 16-35 in relevant skills in selected key areas of theater and business knowledge and skills. It will promote the richness and diversity of Nigerian languages, arts and culture and instill a love of African history in this future generation of African creatives.

With a focus on women, TAFTA becomes fundamental Provide training, support, internships and liaison with employment and financial services. It works in alignment with the MasterCard Foundation’s Young Africa Works, which aims to provide 30 million African youth with access to decent work and the right skills to contribute to Africa’s global competitiveness and improve their lives and those of their communities.

These creatives are given the opportunity to tell their stories and our common story, and to spread the unique African voice to the world. The story not only of our past, but also of our present and future, as each of these defines our voice and our stories. This partnership between Terra Kulture and the Mastercard Foundation has given us as a community the opportunity to preserve our culture and change not just the way we think and the way we view our community, but the way in which we see ourselves.