The ethnicity debate

By: Lineo Segoete

A little girl once asked me why people who have an inclination to art are usually ethnocentric; particular to this scenario she was asking why many African artists are Afrocentric. The only answer I could come up with would be my personal experience. It comes naturally!

A man’s main driver is the fire burning within him, the unknown that strengthens his desire to seek and find, and this is where the source of transformation begins. The execution of this ideology is simple and effective enough to become the norm within a short space of time. The logic is not all that complex; know your subject, become one with it, exalt it on its traits and in this way exalt yourself for noticing. You will take the form of a teacher/messenger and student to a subject that genuinely intrigues you as it sparks emotion, thought and desire and thus you shall master.

Spiritually, I and others like myself do not believe in Jesus being my saviour, but I believe in the qualities mentioned of him, character wise and the lessons he taught. I would be bold as to say I draw from what was practised prior to Christianity, Islam and others. This is not entirely true however, because there is still so much I do not know and am yet to comprehend, hence I conclude that my religion is art, the universe and nature.

We live in a world where cultures are blending into each other. This is beautiful because we are all one people after all and ironically, do the same things yet by different devices. Here is a question though; while we are busy being integrated how many Africans are actually conscious (not self-conscious) of their roots? On some level, our progression has also led to our rot. I will make an example; many people quote that ancestral veneration is heathen, yet one may argue that the bible itself acknowledges ancestral significance; hence in many parts of it we find narrations of key figures’ lineage, including Jesus himself. Nevertheless, this fades out as an oversight for many believers. It reminds me of the analogy; teach a monkey how to dance and watch it dance more than you.

Our society (Africans) was conquered by a network that was smart enough to learn the hazards of division through its own ugly experiences and then applied that wisdom as a counter-attack against a perceived enemy. Some enemy we (Africa that was conquered) are; we are very accommodating, forgiving and curious: qualities that aided our demise. Granted we are not in chains anymore but what do we make of the spiritual, mental and financial domination that still persists?

The bottom line is some of us are of the intonation: thank you for helping to free my mind and remind me that as I learn from you, so do you from me in my quest for truth and knowledge. I do not have to be any less of myself because you yourself are not any less of who you are therefore, we share mutual regard for each other’s qualities. We ought to be learning from others, not becoming miniature and sometimes fake imitations of them. Just a thought!

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