Isn’t it amazing how man continously adopts new languages and assumes the new identity totally while losing touch with the previous one? The truth of the matter is we as human beings are unique, dynamic creatures. We are born tabula vasa (blank slate, if I remember my Latin, irony intended) and slowly absorb new knowledge as we grow. Some have argued that we are born with intelligence- the ability to reason, make decisions and even imitate, while we build on knowledge- the ability to learn and grasp new content. Language falls under knowledge since we are not born with it but we get it as we grow.
Africa is one of the planet’s richest when it comes to culture. There are so many languages within the continent. Language is the identity of individual tribes. It is the face and calling card for culture. It unites many people. Now with all these goodies I am mentioning about language, picture this scenario. Let’s say before the various migrations of communities- which was unavoidable- caused a drop from 98% to 95% (assimilations, etc.). After some time, the interactions would cause some surge in new languages, so 96%. Then the colonialists came, enforcing their “civilization” thus people were made to adopt the languages of colonialists as primary languages. This would slice it down to 48%. Now we still have not brought the aspect of coming up with a single national language, the official languages, the movement to urban centres, etc. So the languages have been dealt a major blow, reducing significantly. Others have dissapeared completely. Latin for Europe, for Africa there are countless lost languages.
Culture has been lost, yes. But new culture is not bad. Culture has the possibility of evolving further. The people of today have the ability to learn more than one international language. If this comes to fruition, we might still see emergence of new languages. The beauty of culture is immense and language is the very mountain that seems to continue towering. The future looks promising.
Culture is dead. This sounds like a lie but it is true now more than ever.
Experiement. When is the last time you told a story? You see many will have failed this experiment yet I have not even finished my question. When is the last time you told a story you had been told accurately? Even a riddle or something you got from another person can count. Yet if you have done it, you are still wrong because I have not stated what I am aiming at. When you do tell people something that is not your original idea, you are reporting. You are not spreading culture as many would assume. However when you come up with something and you pass it on, that is culture. Let me elaborate. Many people think culture is learning languages or being taught customs which is alright. But would it have been culture in the first place if the people who came up with those had not devised those very languages and customs and decide to copy from others? No. This all proves that culture has a conception.
But culture dies too. Assimilation is an example of how culture dies. You are told that one culture or race is superior and you decide to drop yours. You stop coming up with creations like storytelling, riddles, sayings, poems and songs and passing them on. You fail to make efforts to learn languages, new and old. You stop reading. You kill culture. We have already started the murder of culture without even knowing it.
This generation we exist in has become more culturally unavailable so much so that we continue to lose our roots to the society. There will come a time we won’t have old huts, legends, adages and odes, we won’t have clothes and gold, customs and languages. We will just be searching over internet, or we won’t because we will have lost that curiosity that sparks the need to know more. That very curiosity is what culture is. That is why culture is dead.