3.06.2012

Globalization "Feast" in Sierra Leone

No caption needed, right?
In Sierra Leone, I noticed something. This something unsettles me. It's no secret that colonialism committed a cultural murder of sorts in its colonies, but for a long time I believed that with independence came a cultural rejuvenation - a pride of traditional culture and rejection of colonially-imposed cultures. Although this might be true in some parts of Africa, in Sierra Leone, I find this is not the case. Surely there are plenty of those who wear traditional clothes, speak the national languages, and practice traditional religions (especially the further from the cities you travel), but so many people I met wanted nothing other than to be American/Canadian/English.

My good friends in Sierra Leone knew more American music than I did, but didn't listen to the national artists (they said this is because they are allowed to download music from the US for free and that it's a crime to download music from national artists). They put U.S. politics on a pedestal, claiming that there is never corruption, no inequality, and complete freedom (I'd always challenge them to research Chicago politics, which might change their mind). The Chinese are praised for bringing such things like DVDs that play 11 movies on them or cellphones that hold 2 SIM cards (a small heaven-sent gift when you have to have 3 different SIM cards). And what's for dinner every couple nights? Pasta with pesto, Bellissimo!

I recently fell upon this poem in the Sierra Leonean newspaper called The Patriotic Vanguard, which I think perfectly sums up the 'something' that is bothering me about Sierra Leone - globalization. Although I can't argue with some of the benefits of globalization (and it's not for me to deny them the things they want), I also can't argue against some of the harm it has done, like making Sierra Leone a market for Chinese goods among other things. So, I encourage you all to read this well-worded poem by a professor at Virginia State University because he says it all much better than I could! (I also included it in Krio because, just admit it, everything sounds better in Krio).

Poetry: Feast of the West: Globalization

By: Sheik Umarr Kamarah

Clever like a rabbit the White man is
First, his ‘book’ for us to ‘read’
buried in his own ‘language’
the book to find, language to learn
Our God they poisoned with cunning
Then Our machete amputated our culture

Knowing the level of our acculturation
how messy our world has become
how confused like chicken among vultures
living only by the Grace of his own God

Now he suggests a cultural feast
Each brings cultural feast
and possessions
to contribute to the Boiling Pot

What can we bring?
we don’t grow our own rice
we don’t make clothing and shoes
our history buried in Western books
our culture, with the ancestors
imitation, our pride
Well, after all, it is a Feast of the West, and we,
the uninvited guests.
-----------------------------------------------------
Wetman Awujɔ: Globalayzeshɔn
Wetman gɛt sɛns lɛk kɔni rabit
Fɔs I kam kam gi wi in yon buk fɔ lan
Bɔt di buk bɛr insay in yon langwej
Fɔ fɛn am wi fɔ lan wetman langwej
Dɛn tek kɔni kil wi yon Gɔd
Dɔn wi tek kɔtlas chap wi yon kɔlchɔ

We dɛn si se wi dɔn wɛr insay gud fashin
Wi dɔn jegejaga wi ples dɛn gud gud wan
Wi dɔn kɔnfyus lɛk fɔl na yuba kɔntri
Wi jɛs de liv bay dɛn yon Gɔd in kɔni

Dɛn grap se wi ɔl fɔ mek Awujɔ:
ɔlman fɔ fes kam tin we i sabi mek
ɛn tin we i gɛt
fɔ put insay di awujɔ pɔt

Wetin wi go fes kam?
Wi nɔ de plant wi yon rɛs
Wi nɔ sabi mek klos ɛn sus
Wi Istri de insay wetman buk
Wi kɔlchɔ dɔn day wit wi grani ɛn granpa dɛm
Wi yon sɛns na falamakata
Wɛl, wi go jɛs bi di Awujɔ Tikpun

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