Ghanaian socialist activist mulls connection between culture and genuine liberation

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Ghana – A SOCIALIST activist from Food Sovereignty Ghana says Africa can only truly liberate herself using culture if it is rooted in the collective values of Ubuntu.
Discussing a topic titled Culture and emancipation: The foundations of an alternative socialist culture, during the just-ended second annual conference on Pan-Africanism Today, held in Tunis, Edwin Baffour said Africans had a culture even before the Europeans colonised them.
Describing the conference as a distinguished gathering of progressives, Baffour said there was a connection between culture and emancipation.
“Missionaries that came to Africa prior to colonisation only came to explore the continent and they found Africans with a culture, which they saw as a potential obstacle if anyone thought of invading any society in Africa,” he said. “In terms of liberating people, it is important to understand culture from the aspects such as Ubuntu and Harambee which represent collective values that can be used in the socialist work.”
Africans, he said, should be grounded and rooted in who they really were since culture created alignments in the societies.
“Africans have a culture where one can pick something from a farm whenever they are hungry without getting a lot more and putting them in a basket to take home,” he said. “Africans have a sustainability factor, especially when it comes to the preservation of local resources.”
He said since there was no greed, sustainability was sustained on the continent.
Baffour said Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah worked within the culture of the people and that was why people loved him.
“Nkrumah made the people of Ghana proud to belong to this culture,” he said.
He further observed that all these cultures were able to put together a society that made the people of Africa progress.
“In terms of conflict resolution, such issues were dealt with by employing ancient strategy,” Baffour said. “The other part of culture is the worship of ancestors, the fore-bearers. However, Africans are worshipping the ancestors of other people rather than theirs.”
He said apart from the wisdom of folklore that was passed from generation to generation, another cultural aspect within Africa was music and dance.
“Hip Hop, for example, came from the ghettos of North America as a form of mass resistance but it has now been co-opted by international corporations. Africans have a lot to learn from their indigenous culture in defining the way forward,” said Baffour.
Contributing to the topic, [] Leila a delegate from Morocco said contemporary culture was that of the bourgeoisie class as organised by the capitalists.
“The main thing that characterises this imperialist culture is individualism. In the past there used to be solidarity among tribes but not anymore. People used to share the benefits and wealth of their farms and in Morocco they used to consume whatever was harvested, but today people are producing to make gains,” she said. “People today are so concerned about consumerism and profits and this is one of the characteristics of capitalism. Collective thinking for collective solutions is no longer there. Coupled with this is the role of the media that promotes the individualistic attitude, acting as the spokesperson of the ruling class.”
She said the media were being used by the mainstream class to create what she called the market culture where everything was bought and sold.
“Due to collectivisation, people never used to feel isolated by hunger in the past because there was collective harvest. But no one supports for free now in the selling and buying frenzy,” Leila said. “Sex work is one of the key issues arising from this commoditisation of society, because some people use human beings to enrich the mafia. Bodies are being exploited, as well as the labour force, to create a very fragile condition. Even revolutionary militants are also drawn into this consumer culture because they tend to think they are different when they manage to build a big house and a car through the building of a business and getting loans.”
Leila called for the invoking of the class dimensions in all social relations and a push for alternatives against sectarian interests.
“There is need to invoke the gender dimension, because commodification makes women become victims. Currently, there is a dismal effort to address the use of women’s bodies as goods in this perception of the female gender as commodities. We need an alternative culture if the liberation of the commodified and the prostituted can become an issue of discussion,” she said.

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