“You are not for long going to remain where you are if you have long forgotten where you come from. There are so many answers in understanding who you are and where you are coming from”
Africa is blessed with several resources. It is often referred to as the land flowing with milk and honey. African culture is rich. According to World Atlas, “Africa has a rich diversity of languages and ethnicity with an estimated 1250 to 3000 languages spoken across the continent.” Africa is made up of 54 countries, many of which have several ethnic groups and languages. The beauty of Africa is expressed in its language, music, food, fashion and lifestyle. Every country has its own unique practices and traditions which are passed on from generation to generation.
Over the years, many Africans, some for education, some seeking asylum and others for work and better opportunities have migrated to Ireland. According to the Central Statistics Office, there are 57,850 Africans in Ireland as of 2016. When people migrate from one place to another they carry their values and beliefs with them. To avoid cultural decay, migrants should continue to promote and celebrate their culture wherever they go.
Ethnic communities have helped Africans reconnect with home. One of such is the Fingal African Community Association (Fingal Africa). Persons from different African countries make up the group. The group was formed in 2016 for the “advancement of people of African descent who live in the Fingal area”.
According to Mr Diamond Ebs, the Public Relations Officer of Fingal Africa, the African culture has a “strong grounding in family values” especially in the way children are being brought up to respect their elders.
“You are not for long going to remain where you are if you have long forgotten where you come from. There are so many answers in understanding who you are and where you are coming from”, Mr Ebs said.
While it is understandable that children raised in the diaspora might not have the same cultural experience with those raised in the home country, some parents have totally given up on instilling cultural values in their children, thereby losing their identity and abandoning it for acceptance in a new environment. A visit home will help in reconnecting them with their background.
Mr Ebs advises that African parents make a conscious effort to teach children about their way of life, saying that children will “naturally gravitate” towards the Western culture if nothing is done. People living in the diaspora need to be able to manage cultural differences while maintaining their identity.
Unfortunately, not everyone is proud to identify with their own people. Prejudice exists among Africans in subtle forms. John Otieno, 24, a third-year Business Studies student of Griffith College has experienced hostility from fellow Africans.
“When some African people meet up, sometimes, instead of trying to talk to one another and get to know each other better, they already have a bad impression about you; yet you have not spoken to them. It is a bad thing; it’s like being racist to our own people. It puts a bad image on the African culture”, the Kenyan said.
Usually, this attitude stems from desperation to be accepted into a new environment. Some Africans think their way is “archaic and might not be acceptable” and this has led to some ignoring their culture or being too embarrassed to freely display their cultural heritage. It is said that the reason for this could be the way Western media portrays Africa. Every society has its own distinct culture which makes it unique and different. According to a popular African proverb, “a man without culture is like Zebra without stripes”. The process of learning to live with people from other backgrounds starts with accepting and identifying who we are.