Today, May 21, 2015, is the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. The objectives of the world cultural day include:
- Raising awareness worldwide about the importance of intercultural dialogue, diversity and inclusion.
- Building a world community of individuals committed to support diversity with real and every day-life gestures.
- Combating polarization and stereotypes to improve understanding and cooperation among people from different cultures.
Globally, it seems that it’s only Kenya that has taken the Day seriously. It’s only in Kenya that #WorldCulturalDay is a trending topic on Twitter. The rest of the world is yet to pick up and Dialogue about this important topic. South Africa, Nigeria and a few other African countries that I took a glance at have more pressing issues to discuss other than the World Cultural Day.
On the World Cultural Day, Kenyans are recognizing that we are “many nations” with diverse cultures – cultures that we can harness for a greater good. That we should learn to acknowledge, embrace and accept every culture – and at the same time live together in harmony, unity and love. This is our cultural dialogue today – a dialogue that is being spearheaded by Barclays Kenya.
There are a few things that define culture – and if we go with the tweets under the hashtag #WorldCulturalDay, we can simply say that they are dressing style, language, religious beliefs, and a few uncommon practices and celebration within a group of people. If it is common, then it’s a multicultural practice or a global phenomenon.
Although everyone is tweeting that we should appreciate the diversity in cultures and find ways to live harmoniously together as envisioned in the spirit of World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, a spirit that states that World Cultural Day “provides us with an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the values of cultural diversity and to learn to live together better”, we all acknowledge the existence of some practices that can rightfully termed as backward cultures.
The backward cultures are cultures that limit freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom of association, and freedom of media – cultures that limit individual and collective rights to food, health, education, information, participation in leadership agenda (e.g. right to vote), and freedom to change. The best description I have seen in the course of putting this piece together is that provided by a Yahoo Answers participant, Erutluc, who, seven years ago, wrote:
When I think of a backward culture I think of a culture still using archaic and outdated systems of law and justice. Where a person can be whipped and beheaded because they stole a potato. Where women have little to no rights within the society. Where a person has no right to privacy. Where gays and lesbians can be arrested for being who they are and, in some cases, killed over it. Where not believing or changing your beliefs or teaching your beliefs against the state beliefs is punishable by imprisonment or death.
When I think of a backward culture I think of a culture that is stuck in the year 1350. I think of a culture where humanity, humility, and freedom is something that is only granted you if you do exactly as you are told. Where you are only free to choose so long as your choice is the right one. Because God help you if you choose the wrong choice. You might just find your head on a block.
Those are backward cultures that everyone acknowledge to be bad, retrogressive and outright archaic. Those are not the cultures that I want to talk about. I want to talk about acceptable cultures – but cultures that hinder progress of science and technology. I want to talk about your culture, your Luo, Kikuyu, Luhyia, Kalenjin and the rest of cultures that do not change at the same rate as Science and Technology. Excuse me but I want to say that these many cultures that do not speak the language of science and technology are inferior. Read on in Page Two then throw those stones.
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