Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Tyranny of Culture…I think


photo: www.tes.com
There are many things of culture one learns as one grows older through social experience in society. Some of these cultural learning processes are unconscious, and one can’t actually point out when, or at what point in time, one actually started to learn them. One just finds oneself in possession of certain epistemic cultural realities. These epistemic realities—or Deweyan, informal pedagogy—affects one in one’s social or personal life.

For those who don’t know philosopher John Dewey, he explains education as happening, largely, informally through the transmission of traditions and norms that sustain a certain community from the old to the young. Since formal education is a small fraction of our general learning, what we learn informally makes the bulk of our epistemic and social life.

These social realities are the normative constraints or directives that happen to guide us without us knowing until we realize the straitjackets they become. The Camusian moment of consciousness, I would say! These cultural straitjackets or enablers, are cultural practices that make our ‘culture.’ I will take ‘culture’ here to mean a set of constraining or enabling normative and traditional factors that shape society.

While some of these cultural factors are admirable, some of these practices can be really repressive. 

I am going to explain a few repressive cultural issues that border on cultural dictatorship. I am not saying that ‘culture’ is bad; however, there are many repressive cultural practices that don’t do anyone any good; but there are cultural practices whose existence is fundamental to societal cohesiveness and longevity. Respect for elders and their wisdom is one good example. In a Deweyan sense, they help the community avoid social or cultural death.

This leads me to comment on some observations I’ve made within our diasporic communities as some of these 'cultural' practices are not only unprogressive, they are also disrespectful. Some Jiëëng communities, especially in community's sociocultural functions, ensure that men and boys are served before women even elder women. This is a cultural practice that I think should be done away with. Elder men and women should eat first before the younger people eat. Well, as Hilde Johnson recently argued, the best way to discredit a given reality among South Sudanese is to call it ‘western.’ Some folks would rush to argue that this is a western way of life without delving into the merit or demerit of the argument presented.

This makes some cultural practices irrationally anti-women.

I have also seen that some men don’t cook even if they know that both of them work.  It might be called ‘our culture’, but given the fact that these families live in different cultural realities to support their children and their families, it would be a good idea for men to support their wives when it comes to household chores. I know there are progressive men who help their wives already. Kudos to them. These are the good men or röör pieth.

I have also observed the expensive and exploitative cultural conditions in which young men and women, who are getting married, find themselves. What makes this cultural practice oppressive is the fact that the tyrannically exorbitant dowry charged by the diasporic communities is just morally wrong. Yet, we dispense with rationality and blame it on ‘our culture.’ Girls, who’d want to save their partners from this cultural tyranny by trying to convince their relatives not to demand too much dowry, find themselves either sidelined in marriage arrangement or derided in the name of culture.

I’ve also seen young men who leave girls of marriageable age in their diasporic communities to go and marry fifteen to twenty-year-olds in South Sudan. These girls are married off at such an immorally tender age in the name of culture. Girls who are above 25 are seen as ‘old.’ Old?

The above listed cultural practices are imposed on us by society—or we chose them in the tyrannical name of ‘culture—and there's little we can do about them as they are imposed on us by our ‘culture.’




ON CULTURAL IDENTITY & BELONGING

Dear Melbournians, the South Sudanese people to be precise. Do you think we have seen it all? Do you think we have seen that: I mean in the aftermath of yesteryears, in regard to our culture and the notions around identity and belonging? Do you think we have seen the true reaping of what we sowed years ago? Do you really think so? After all, did we really sow anything like seeds and that there’s something to be reaped? Did we really live it out well to be seen today?

I am sorry to have bothered you, my potential readers, with questions regarding our social, economic, and political location in our host society: Australia. I think we have not seen it all and as a whole: The idea that people are bound by certain values and beliefs of significance to them. This requires cooperation and role-specific obligations on the roles of every man and woman across a given people and their society.

TOLERANCE & INCLUSION


While it is possible for us to racially discriminate or judge people we know, the chances of judging people we know diminish significantly the more we know them. An easy example of the importance of understanding others is the attitude people develop when they want to harm others or when they want to deny them something valuable. Essentially, before you fight someone, you insult them. Insults are attempts at diminishing the value of people, an attempt at estranging them, as Toni Morrison argued in The Origin of Others. It is easy to discriminate against strangers or make others strangers or dehumanized in order to discriminate against them.

Transformational Leadership, Inclusive Institutions and Service Provision

Leadership, given what is happening now in South Sudan, and generally in Africa, fascinates me. And it fascinates me not in a good way but because of the sociopolitical and socioeconomic ills facing the African continent and most of the so-called 'Third World.' To me, South Sudan, now, is a classic case.

Rebellion by disaffected politico-military leaders and repression by the government of South Sudan in Juba have stunted institutional development and leadership growth. This has made service provision almost irrelevant as political survival has taken primacy and supremacy. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE

‘Black’ as an Identity Oversimplification and Mockery

Black as a universalized cultural identity of the African Person (AP)* is a residual effect of slave and colonial mentality; a racial/race paradigm. It is a malady I call, conservatively speaking, stuck-in-the-past syndrome of color constraints. Black could be an on-the-street ‘social identifier’ of race figures not a meaningful phenomenon of deep cultural identification on a universal scale.