Tuesday 21st November 2017,

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Only in Liberia, but culture is culture in other parts of the world

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Photo taken by James Kokulo Fasuekoi

Photo taken by James Kokulo Fasuekoi

James Kokulo Fasuekoi, Eden Prairie, Minn., Part II: Continue from last edition – In other places of the world culture, generally, is regarded as “culture,” however bizarre some may appear, one will often see people from different cultures join in with celebrants and celebrate without much questioning.

For example, in the United States, there is evidence of cultural amalgamation and the key reason for that is cultural “tolerance” which is lacking in Liberia. Let’s look at halloween that occurs October 31 throughout the US, its activities revolve around witchcraft which may sound weird to the ordinary African-Liberian, knowing the harm true witchcraft is capable of causing one’s family.

Yet, each year in America, the event is celebrated in grand styles and visitors and “Americanized Africans” alike now join in the celebration with their children, sporting some of the spookiest Halloween costumes found on the market.

Unlike a decade ago, most Americanized Africans and Native Americans themselves have in the past years spent lavishly on halloween costumes. This has caused costumes manufacturers to make fortunes by producing more expensive and attractive types for consumers. Now, a typical African-Liberian back home in Liberia, may scorn and term such event as “bizarre” aware of the harm it causes people. But again, in America, unlike Liberia, this is about culture and nothing else. 

In the state of Pennsylvania, “Groundhog Day” is celebrated every February 2, each year. In fact this year “Groundhog Day” celebrated last Monday throughout the US brought thousands of people together into a small Pennsylvanian town called Punxsutawney where they could watch and listen to the prediction of “Punxsutawney Phil’s.”

Photo credit: Michael Evans

Photo credit: Michael Evans

I guess some readers might think that, “Punxsutawney Phil’s” is a human being or a speaker. Not really, it’s the name given to a live groundhog. In Pennsylvanian tradition, the animal annually predicts the weather almost like a weatherman. How? The crowd watches him emerge from his hole, (hideout) on this day and if Phil’s Punxsutawney sees his own shadow (shadow of him appears) according to legend, winter, that year “May extend to six more months.”

This translates into bad news because; Pennsylvanians wish is to see a short winter. No shadow means good news, meaning, an early spring will be expected, a cause for celebration. Now, try staging this ritual in Liberia i.e., by having a few hundred people gathered in a town square where a huge “groundhog” will be lifted into the sky to predict whether or not the next Rainy Season will be shorter or longer.

Photo credit: National Geography

Photo credit: National Geography

Imagine how eyes will roll not so much in appreciation but in negative manner that will make the crowd-gathering person to look goofy. That’s because, the best place for “groundhog” as Liberians know is in “Torborgee” soup. Like the initial example, this is all about culture and nothing more and almost all these cultures hold root to Ireland. Link 

Turn somewhere to the south of North America and one is bound to hear of the lovely city of New Orleans, the home of the great annual “Mardi Gras Festival.” This occasion is usually celebrated in South American Brazilian carnival styles whereby the sight of half-naked men and women become common.

Of course, a lot can go wrong when a crowd of half-naked celebrants go drunk. But no one, not even the visitors ever criticized the “Ugly” things that take place during the Mardi Gras Festivals. In Liberia, some will describe it as a Zoe bush, meaning, whatever happens during the festival stays there.

There are even more bizarre cultures in other parts of the world like Indonesia. In that part of the world, people celebrate the dead each year by digging up the dead, including babies, and giving them “bath” and “nice grooming” following which new cloths are put on them and ready for a weeklong “festival of the dead” called: “The Ma’nene.” Link 

Photo credit: Daily Mail

Photo credit: Daily Mail

At the end of the celebration, deceased people known as the “Dead” are removed from the homes of their relatives and taken back to their graves for reburial.  This obviously may sound awkward to many African-Liberians but again like the rest of the earlier narrations, this certainly is a true story. This clearly shows that people in other places of the world are in many ways different from Liberians.

What makes America unique isn’t basically due to its beautiful skyscrapers and night lights, but what can be described in two words as cultural tolerance. It also gives meaning to the phrase called the “Melting pot,” all for its willingness to have people from all parts of the world to honor their respective belief systems without hindrances from any group or the power that be.

In other words, no one dictates how the culture and traditions of the other ought to be practiced, unlike Liberia where it is the other way around. That might also explain why the Native American Indians have peacefully co-existed with people of mainstream America for centuries without encountering misunderstanding.

The same is with the continent of Australia where considerable cultural tolerance exists among Aborigines and Whites. Like America, the none-natives Australians or Whites, didn’t go into that country and condemning the traditional cultural practices of the indigenous and demanding to replace such “practices” with something else. Neither did the none-natives behaved in any arrogant manner to suggest they were/are superior to native Australians.

Due to such cultural dialogue, the none-natives were able to assimilate with ease into the local traditional cultures which unfortunately, is far different from the case with the “pioneers” of Liberia. As a result, Native Australian culture is taking center stage in the world today at international Olympic Games thus making all Australians proud of their country and culture.

Apart, the general outcome of the Australian cultural amalgamation has placed huge burdens on the shoulders of White-Australians working in the films and worldwide movie industries who find themselves obsessed with Native Australian cultural heritage. The White-Australians are the ones largely at the forefront of filming, writing, promoting and preserving every aspect of Australian traditional lifestyle, from arts to food, and from costumes to music, all for the entertainment and historical benefits of locals and foreign guests as well as the unborn generations.

But mention Liberian Native cultural heritage anywhere in a Liberian gathering, every Tom, Dick, and Harris, will have something unworthy to say about our culture; that is, if they spare you of insults.

From my own investigations, it seems that Liberia is the only place on earth where people including some “natives” don’t want to have anything to do with their own culture and traditions perhaps due to what some refer to as “Inferiority complex.”

Since the coming of the settlers, Liberians have been made to believe that there’s nothing good about locally made products or going local, to include dresses, music and female hairstyles like “Corn-roll and Country plaits.”

As a result, there is a large group of westernized Liberians all over the world today who want us to forget about cultural practice in the name of “Western civilization” on account that it hasn’t brought modern development. This is exactly the group of Liberians who find themselves in denial. They are neither of the followings: Americans, Europeans, nor Africans. Pathetically, they want to speak, act and dress like Americans and Europeans. 

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