Thursday, 2 October 2014

The Effects of the New Media and Globalization on African culture. - By Sesan Michael Johnson

With the fancy and all the frenzy about globalization, it is evident that globalization is not new, however, as a great phenomenon; its influence cutting across all facets of life are continuously being experienced by nation-states of the world. The multitudinous influence of globalization is also being accentuated by the proliferation of the Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs), especially, the ever emerging new media which in all characterization has turned the world into a wholesome entity with high interrelatedness and interconnectedness between and among varied civilizations, culture, and communities of the world. Hence, through the instrumentality of globalization and the wide currency the new media had attracted and according to Marshall McLuhan the world had turned to become a global village. For instance, the ongoing Arab Spring characterizing some of the countries of North Africa has been tagged “Facebook Revolution”. Decisively, this article sets to do a critical assessment of some of the effects of globalization as well as that of the new media on Africa culture.

No matter where Africans turn to, through mobile phone and internet application devices, they encounter the new media, It is evident that globalization and the new media are like two Siamese twins. They are highly intertwined and inseparable. Indeed, in the recent time the new media is seriously accentuating globalization and sky-rocketing its potency all over the world.

Reportedly, 2003 World Youth Report on Youth and Information and Communication Technology hypothesize that “two major assumptions underline the role of the new media: the first is that proliferation of the technologies is causing rapid transformation in all areas of life; the second is that the new media function to unify and standardize culture.”[1]

In its entire ramification the new media just like globalization is creating a global system of culture for the international system. Importantly, with economic, social, cultural and political interaction between and among states in the international system, there have been cross fertilization of ideas and culture in particular. Through cultural diplomacy which is orchestrated by globalization, nation-states of the world are interacting culturally at the highest level through conferences and events such as cultural festivals and carnivals as well as during sporting events.

The exploding new media realities and globalization are sensed as both a gift and a threat especially to African culture. The new infomedia technologies have created new spaces and new contexts for the emerging new virtual and cyber communities where amalgamation of varied cultures of different civilizations and races is taking place. Significantly, African culture is not an exception.

There are many Africans today, who only perceive the media realities as a fear-provoking threat, especially considering the ways African culture is being polluted and bastardized with the so-called western civilization which had formed the major component of the new media or global culture being subtly imposed on African youths.

African youths are daily experiencing the bombardment of images, sounds, and words through bursting of the new media technologies that screeches out to capture the imagination of people today. As said earlier on, western culture has become the de-facto culture of the new media or globalization. Which according to some scholars has no redemptive values to African culture and by its nature is distracting, manipulative and oppressive to Africa thereby subjugating African culture as inferior and barbaric which is in line with the spirit of neo-imperialism and/or globalization. Globalization has generated a lot of controversy with regard to the rise of a global culture. Western norms and practices are gradually being transported across the globe as the acceptable way of behaviour. In view of this, rich and dynamic African culture has been diluted.[2]

By definition, what globalization does is to make all other cultures local. According to Jeremy, globalization is a declaration of war upon all other cultures.[3] There is no doubt that with high intensity, globalization and the new media have dragged African culture into disrepute and cultural doldrums.

The new media also riffles the fabrics of African social networks. In a typical African traditional setting or community children are expected to keep company with the aged or the elderly who would then impart the wisdom of the land to the younger generation, however, this is becoming difficult when the children spend most of their time surfing the net or bubbling with mobile devices. To most African youths nowadays tales by moonlight is a myth or fiction.

It is suffice to say here, it is not all aspect of the media culture that is detrimental and sententious to African culture, however, generally speaking, the new media culture had negatively affected African culture within the context of ethical values, socialization, dressing, religion, relationship, sexuality, etc. Absurdity and anomalies such as nudity, homosexuality, lesbianism, pornography, etc are being passed on to African youths in particular as major strands of western civilizations symbolizing global culture.

However, it must be said at this juncture that globalization and the new media have opened African peoples’ lives to other cultures and all their creativity and to the flow of ideas and values. Since, in anyway, no culture is superior to others and characteristically all cultures have their positive and negative strings. The new media have eased interaction among Africans and peoples of different cultures. Also, some inhuman cultural practices directed especially at women, for instance, female genital mutilation (circumcision), widowhood rites, trokosi, etc are being addressed and modified. [4]

Additionally, the new media is working well for African culture. It is gainfully being deployed to connect families. By sharing pictures and video of family events with members in the Diaspora, families are able to overcome the challenges of time and space and get together, which is part of the community style of living of most Africans.[5]

[1] Youth and information and Communication Technologies (ICT) (World Youth Report, 2003), 2
[2] Yeboah, Kwame. The Impact of Globalization on African Culture. Odense: University of Southern Denmark.
[3] Jeremy S, “Localizing Cultures,” Korean Herald (Korea), January 13, 2004. 2004)  page 6
[4] Jeremy, S (2004) Localizing Cultures. Korean Herald: January 13, 2004.
[5] Andrew Limo, “Information Ethics and the New Media: Challenges and Opportunities for Kenya’s Education Sector,” University of Botswana. (September 2010)

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