Africa is described as the “continent of beginnings,” yet it has somehow become the poorest continent viewed as a land of tragedy? (Moran, Abramson, Moran, 2012). Comprised of 54 states, Africa is historically rich with diversity and cultural, but Westernization is threatening to extinct African culture like a sticky milkshake covering the globe.
Westernization is defined as the process whereby societies come under or adopt Western culture in areas such as industry, technology, politics, economics, lifestyle, law, norms, customs, traditions, language, religion and philosophy (Wikipedia, n.d.). The states that comprise Africa have been unsuccessful in finding unity as it relates to preserving their rich history and cultural norms and traditions. This is due, in part by several conditions:
- Lack of synergy including different leadership styles (strongman) at varying levels of involvement and a state of constant unrest and conflict
- Poor infrastructure
- Lack of skilled workers/human resources
- Dependency on foreign government aid – inability to use external resources effectively
- Underdeveloped agricultural system – poor water systems and uncontrollable natural environmental conditions
- Lack of a well-organized and functioning healthcare system – rampid infectious disease
- Organic population growth (a surplus of births over deaths) resulting in a youth bulge (a high rate of
- The economic push and pull to urban locations seeking better education, employment and opportunity
Wole Akande states, “the reality is that in many important respects, Western culture (some would say American culture) remains the domineering force in the world today. Western culture fuels globalization today…and helps to reinforce the supremacy of the West.” (Akande, 2002.) The homogenization of Western values in African states can be attributed to increased access to information technology and communications (such as internet connection and cell phone), and the flood of commercialized culture (resulting in marketable goods or services).
The improved infrastructure of African telecommunications is transforming lesser established cities by providing them the ability to communicate and receive information. For example, in 2000 there were only 30,000 cell phones in Nigeria; by 2012 there were 113 million (Muggah, Kilcullen, 2016). State citizens have increased access to the internet, news, educational broadcasts and social media. However, much of the information made available to the people is sourced from Western civilization and serves as a force to propagate Western culture. “The end result becomes global integration at the expense of local disintegration” (Akande, 2002).
Leadership on the continent surely will have to unite to manage long-term plans to development of not only megacities such as Cairo, Kinshasa and Lagos, but also the rural areas which stand to make the greatest development strides. The challenged poised to leaders is how to accomplish this while still promoting the collectivist African cultural characteristics.
Akande, W. (2002, November 10). The drawback of cultural globalization. Retrieved from https://www.globalpolicy.org/component/content/article/162/27594.html
Moran, R.T., Abramson, N. R. & Moran, S.V. (2014). Managing cultural differences. (9th ed.). Abingdon: Routledge.
Muggah, R., Kilcullen, D. (2016, May 4). These are Africa’s fastest-growing cities-and they’ll make or break the continent. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/05/africa-biggest-cities-fragility/
Penn State University. (2019) OLEAD 410, Lesson 14: Africa. Governments: ubuntu and the powerful man.. Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/2008449/modules/items/27027041
Westernization. (n.d.) In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westernization