December 8, 2010

I sometimes wonder about the extent of damage the white man has done with the African culture

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William Warby
8 December 2010

Some two or three hundred years ago - I forget the exact dates - the white man from Europe decided that, for the glory of empire and progress, Africa was a prime source of land, riches and slaves.

By entertaining themselves with their thoughts of supremacy and god-given rights, they brought to Africa "civilisation", but what has that "civilisation" done to the indigenous inhabitants of the land?

When I look at cultural groups who have retained their traditions to the extent of that seen amongst the San of South Africa and the Masaai of Kenya, there is such a respect for life, for each other. They live with the land, the work with the land, they appreciate the land and its animals...

The reason I came to wondering about this is an article I came across on about the Masaai finally getting absolution after their historical displacement.

Kenyan safaris are considered Romantic (take a look at Prince William's recent proposal to Kate-whoever at a Kenyan reserve) but the situation has been grave for the Masaai, whose land disappeared into protected reserves and was bought off by the highest bidder.

However, the story ends happily, with many of them given title deeds to their own land, and now their cattle and the wildlife can graze together.

The problem I see, and the purpose of this article, is that where the white man has truly changed the way an indigenous culture thinks, there is no longer a care for symbiosis, for the land, for the animals.

It all becomes about profit. About killing off rhinos to sell their horns for R12 million. About poaching and killing and slaughtering for horns, fur, fun...

What can we do as a society? The most important thing is education, but it seems that is not forthcoming in a country that is geared towards only making money.

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