What is culture?

Wordweb dictionary defines culture as the “attitudes and behaviours that are characteristic of a particular social group.” I think this is a very straightforward definition but are the said attitudes and behaviours acquired or genetic? Also, is culture based on reason? Is it dictated by nature, since every culture evolved differently depending on the geographic location of a people? Is “deity” also a product of culture?

Since abnormal behaviour is behaviour that does not conform to the culture of one’s society, we would be correct to label one as “normal” if one woke up tomorrow morning and saw every neighbour walking backwards, and also immediately starts walking backward. That’s probably the new “normal.”

So in a society what is right is what is done by the majority not necessarily what is “good,” reasonable or sound. I think the advancement of a culture directly reflects how accommodating its actors are of reason. Now my last question to the reader: Do humans have a definite, eternal or unchanging nature? If so, what is this nature? I want to be enlightened.

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The Problem of Metaphysics 

The premise of the existence or nonexistence of a single supreme being as is postulated in philosophy is in, and of itself, an erroneous premise. This is why the theist against atheist arguments will continue perpetually. Pantheism has instead been relegated to the field of theology.

When asked whether there is a god, the indegenous African answers that there are spirits or forces. He does not specify whether a force is omnipresent, omniscient or omnipotent etc. This is because he believes spirit forces are metamorphous (what appears good suddenly becomes evil and vice versa) and are also associated with a particular tribe or race. The gods are brought down to the level of human understanding and they even partake in human activities. The indigenous African never conceives of or gives serious thought to the idea of an all umbrella spirit figure. He believes there could never be an all emcompassing spirit force who presides over such diverse life forms across space and time with myriad weaknesses and strengths, whose chief activities are characterised by brutal predation or the “survival of the fittest.” 

To the practical mind, metaphysics cannot solve any real world problem because it is an abstract conception and when elevated to the apex it completely breaks off from reality (observable phenomena). This is why I think as long as metaphysical arguments concentrate on a single all encompassesing supreme being there will be no end or solution to those arguments. It’s like trying to tie the lose ends of something that cannot tied.

At the museum 

I visited a museum this week where an exhibition was being held. It was called the Museum of Science and Technology. I knew some of the artists who exhibited and I was happy to see them again. 

By the way, what is the role of art in society? To excite, inspire, communicate or provoke change? Enjoy!


I really liked this ink sketch of a girl carrying yams. It was done in I think 1940. I like the crude and original look of the work.


Another indigenous theme of ‘pouring palmwine’. I think the beauty of painting lies in a certain sensitivity of the artist that translates into capturing everyday activity in an exceptional form.


Market scene. Ghanaian markets are very overcrowded and this artist captured that perfectly. Actually it was done by a very renowned painter who I read about in my art history class in high school.


Pencil drawing by a younger artist. I think the subject matter here is beauty. You can clearly see differences in themes between the young and old artists.


Indigenous clay masks. These look like they are singing.


Clay Sculptures – possibly ancestral figures


Another sculture. I like this one, his eyes are partially closed and he does look like a politician I know.


Dyed fabric depicting a fat woman. In Ghana, gaining weight and looking curvy is trendy.


A model of a ship


At first I thought these were live snails crawling up to the ceiling but I realised they were shells glued by the artist to the pillar and the ceiling.


British colonial relic. It must have been used in WW1.

This is the entrance to the Museum of Science and Technology. Happy weekend to especially you. You know yourself. That’s all folks.

Contemporary Paintings

I visited an art gallery very recently and felt the influence of Europeanisation even on African art. I didn’t feel a deep connection with our arts anymore. Although these visual artists seem very creative, only few retained indigenous African themes such as libation, warfare, hunting, weaving, farming, fertility etc in their paintings. I think the appropriate term for these paintings should be “Europeanised paintings.” But maybe I’m wrong. It could also be that the artists are focusing on commercial appeal. Whatever the issue is we cannot blame the artist as he or she is simply mirroring society. The images have been added below for your viewing pleasure.

I think these are fishing boats at the shore.

Landscape

Abstract 

African woman (notice the backside)

This depicts an annual deer hunting festival by one of the tribes in Ghana. Can you see the live deer on their shoulders? 

Trio women feature a lot in paintings by Ghanaian painters. I don’t know what the obsession is with a woman’s backside. Almost every painting I saw depicting a full size woman showed the back of the woman. Maybe it’s true that Black/African men love women with big booty. Personally, I can’t say I care about size of booty.

This is a ghetto scene

Another abstract

Metal Figurines (drummers)

Looks like cubism. I don’t know what you see but I see sorrow.

Fabric, I think it’s hand woven.

African women are known to be very hardworking and I think they must be depicted as such not just making faces as seen in the painting. Our art has moved from communicating essence to simply communicating pleasure or evoking emotion…… And who is this guy in the shot? 

O it’s me.

This is the entrance to the gallery. The name of the gallery is Nubuke Foundation. They have been commited to preserving and promoting art in Ghana for over ten years and they always offer a friendly and warm environment for all visitors. That’s all folks.

Three words that reach the heart

Today is sunday which means my favourite day to post. I want to get over all the anger and frustration with what God should or should not have done in my life. Being angry with God is like being angry with the weather – it’s vexation of spirit. To me God is nature or the universe and remains so. Though some friends tell me that my thoughts are contradictory, in my mind everything is harmonious. I know exactly what I want. I’m not confused about anything. I could go to church, sing the hymns and shake hands with the preacher but that doesnt mean I have become a fundamentalist. I call it resilience. I could entertain just about any idea without conclusively accepting it. Being part of a larger community also makes one more humanistic – we just have to agree to disagree.

Last time I heard, my neighbour was praying that Jesus should kill all his enemies and he actually said (verbatim): ‘All my enemies die in Jesus name…die!…die!…die!’ This made me laugh so hard and I figured if not because of the law he will probably ask permission from Jesus and murder them himself. So here we can see the corrupting effect of false religion on the human mind. If Jesus exists in the material world, and if indeed he listened to such prayers we will all be dead by now. Nine out of every ten christian in my country has prayed such prayer before. How will he killing one’s enemies make one’s life better? If one is lazy and ignorant one remains poor and miserable even after all enemies are dead.

As I mentioned earlier I want to draw your attention to three words that reach the heart. These words have proven effect on even the most callous person, provided such a person is actually human. But they are also words that, for the proud in spirit, are difficult to utter. Unfortunately secular education does not teach virtue anymore and it’s sad. They inflate the ego with logic and logic has no reverse gears. So one only needs to keep moving forward. Culture has also evolved in such a way that modesty and politeness especially in men implies a weakness, so now most youths act tough to impress others and it often fails them in the end. The three words which if uttered genuinely, reaches the heart, irrespective of whether the relationship is marital, professional or casual are ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘help me.’ Happy sunday!

African Union Day

On this occasion of the celebration of the African Union Day, I’m asking them where is the union? There is more trade between Africa and Europe than among African countries. Movement is also restricted with bureaucratic immigration procedures because African Leaders don’t trust each other. So where the hell is the union they are talking about?

What is the purpose of science if it doesn’t serve humanity?

With president Donald Trump reportedly cutting funds to the arts and humanities, I wonder what consequences it will have on the development of a national culture for a country as diverse and racially heterogenous as the United States. Without education in the arts and the humanities civil unrests will be more frequent because people wouldn’t know or understand how to live with one another and even with the state. All knowledge of the arts and the humanities helps us to know who we are, why we are the way we are and what we ought to do to improve ourselves, our communities and the larger society. Law, Politics and Business are all traditionally categorized as arts and humanities.

In the past half century or so there has been intense focus globally on science education, which is good but not good enough to create a more humane civilization and make humans a better and conscientious people. Science has given us many beautiful inventions but their purpose will depend on the purpose we as humans envision for those inventions. What good is a powerful weapon, machinery, tool, vaccine etc if one is not trained to use it humanely.

Science has told us in clear terms that it cannot help us as far as the purpose or meaning of life is concerned. We can only turn to the arts and the humanities for truly meaningful answers. There are tens of thousands of literary and cultural organisations across the U.S. often offering voices to the voiceless and the under-represented. This no doubt is important in uniting such a racially divided country. If funding to the arts and humanities is cut, the government is simply postponing a problem not solving it. Unless peace, coexistence, civil rights, and national unity is not a priority for the government at the moment. As someone who is passionate about literature and the arts, I can only ponder the consequences if literature and art is further underpromoted.

What is normality?

I have been wanting to ask this question as far back as last year but couldn’t really find a way to frame it well. What is ‘normality’?

Supposed that one wakes up tomorrow and saw that everybody was walking about completely naked – even at school or at work. In fact every social gathering is filled with people in the nude. What will be one’s reaction? One will likely immediately feel embarrassed for fully dressing, go back home or to the washroom, undress and come back in order to fit in. Same will apply to whether one woke up and saw people walking backwards. Thus the question arises, is something normal because it’s commonplace or is it normal because it’s appropriate or right to do?

Would you steal, accept bribes or commit adultery simply because it is common place in society or would you rather refuse to do these things because refusal is right? The pressure in society, to conform, is strong and can be reflected even in the kind of traditions or laws in place. But the reward of doing the right thing is superior and far reaching and ultimately good for yourself even if it means being labeled abnormal. Happy Sunday!

Where Is Your Home

 

Where is your home?

Where is your home Blackman?

When you’re in Europe you say I am going home.

When you’re in America you say I am going home.

When you’re in the Far East you say I am going home.

And when you’re in Africa you say I am going home.

Where is your home Blackman?

Where is your home?

Whatever you seek is within you.