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African Culture and Non-Western Modern Art

Culture is often defined in many ways, it refers to the beliefs, ideologies, customs, and social behaviors of a particular society. Africa is one of the rich continents that is rooted in the splendor of indigenous cultures. However, over the past years, these cultures have slowly eroded with evolution giving rise to modern culture in Africa. Culture is seen extensively in how the African people work, dance, worship, communicate, and make arts, clothing, and music (Idang, 2018). In addition, culture also includes people’s ideas, taboos, social standards, and values, which can be defined as people’s views on good and evil and what is essential in life. However, despite Africans having myriad differences in cultures, they share many dominant traits in their beliefs and similar values that exemplify them from the rest of the world, particularly the West. Countries like Ghana and Nigeria share similar cultures in some particular cultural parameters compared to the western and the eastern world (Siepmann, 2006). Therefore, it has been proven that culture is universal, and the beliefs, thought patterns, and general ways of life among every region’s population are often similar but unique from those of different areas.

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The element of uniqueness within different cultures is known as cultural variations. The cultures of traditional African societies with values and beliefs are inextricably linked, even when there is a slight difference. These slight deviations exist only when one African culture is compared to another. Culture is divided into material and non-material facets whereby material culture pertains to the visible physical items that man can produce to benefit human life, and non-material culture consists of people’s rules and morals. Although material culture is tangible and takes the shape of artifacts, the other facet of non-material culture is abstract yet has a profound impact and importance on the lives of individuals in their given society. As a result, it has led to views about right and wrong and conventions and taboos. It is clear from the preceding that culture is shared since it consists of treasured values or ideas held by a religious group and lineage.

Furthermore, culture is remarkably dynamic because it changes at all times. When people modify their behavioral norms and structures, values and beliefs, and perhaps even skills and instruments of labor, culture cannot help but become an adaptable system (Jeannotte, 2017). When one part of culture adjusts or alters in reaction to changes in the external environment, other cultural facets are influenced directly or indirectly. Each aspect of a culture, such as material methods, food preparation, or greeting customs, must be understood concerning the entire system. Values encompass perspective or particular conviction that individuals in a community live with, by, and even die for. As a result, it appears that values permeate all aspects of human life.

There are numerous sorts and categories of values because people’s perceptions of reality about values may diverge from those of another. Life appears to push individuals to make choices, assess things as either a source of betterment or aggravation on an already bad situation and develop some scale or benchmark of values (Idang, 2018). Depending on how people see things, they can either praise or blame or proclaim behaviors good or wrong. In modern Africa, the value system has changed quite a bit over the years; however, it still retains the bigger school of thought that has always governed African’s actions and beliefs. Whether we are conscious of it or not, the culture we live in has methods of imposing its ideals on us regularly regarding what is acceptable, which is totally out of the question.

Individuals go about their everyday lives, attempting to adhere to approved patterns of behavior and conduct, and those who do not comply with the ideals of their local community are somehow summoned to order by societal members (Idang, 2018). Some behaviors and conduct are commonly accepted based on cultural factors, whereas others are highly condemned. The penalty was often exceedingly humiliating, sometimes harsh, to demonstrate the level of condemnation that followed the transgression of ideals that should ordinarily be held sacrosanct. In Nigeria, African culture, particularly that of the Ibibio people of Akwa Ibom State, has no tolerance for robbery. When a thief is apprehended or convicted, they are stripped nude, their bodies smeared entirely with charcoal, and they are forced to carry their loot through the community in broad daylight (Idang, 2018). Even the most audacious burglar would be discouraged by the sense of personal humiliation and disgrace placed on them, their family, and friends. The African idea of aesthetics is based on the core traditional belief structure that inspired art creation.

African traditional art has given rise to a spectacular facet of contemporary art that infuses the traditional concepts with the present-day perspective to yield a splash of beauty and elegance. Contrary to previous ages, art is currently viewed as an enterprise creating attractive items. Thus, when people strive to manufacture or build products that they find admirable, their sense of aesthetic worth is brought to bear. If individuals consider art to create beautiful things, then they can genuinely argue that African aesthetic value is wealth. For example, the Ibibio people’s concept of beauty is exemplified by their fattened maidens known as Limpopo. These bloated maidens are secluded in a room and fed traditional delicacies. The purpose is to prepare the virgin for her husband by making her seem as incredible, healthy, and lovely as possible. The practice is commonly done before marriage and soon after the birth of a child. However, this is the complete opposite of the Western model of feminine beauty, which is always depicted as a slim-looking young female. It demonstrates that the African aesthetic value and understanding of beauty vary significantly depending on the beholder.

African culture has changed tremendously over the years, but fortunately, it has not lost its exquisite taste and significant appeal. Culture evolves due to creation, and culture may grow and flourish due to discovery and spread. Unlike innovation, discovery never includes recombining features but rather sharing knowledge about an existing though unknown object. The significance of discovery in civilization is in its application and when it creates specific obstacles for individuals, transforming into creativity for the society’s progress and survival. Cultural diffusion, which refers to the spread of traits between communities, is another mechanism that has significantly impacted African culture (Stevenson, 2021). As in the African context, diffusion occurred and continues to occur through the imposition of cultural traits on one society by a more robust civilization. The culture change has brought rise to the contemporary twist of African taste and the blend of its best aspects.

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In conclusion, Africa is a colorful continent with many extraordinary people and creations, which is exceptionally different from the conventional Western world. It is depicted that Africa is a tough place to live in but offers the best chances for development within her cultural diversity. The intention of inflicting discipline through consequence has been a strong foundation for African beliefs and cultures, resulting in persons with diverse characters, morals, and personalities. Aesthetic value guides people’s arts and crafts since it influences their perception of lovely against repulsive. It is shown that the aesthetic value of society impacts the artist’s attempt to create aesthetic items acceptable to the culture in which people lives.

References

Idang, G. E. (2018). African culture and values. Phronimon, 16(2), 97–111. Web.

Jeannotte, M. S. (2017). The social effects of culture – A literature review. Cultural Indicators at the Local Level, 1(1). Retrieved December 10, 2021, from

Web.Siepmann, D. (2006). Academic writing and culture: An overview of differences between English, French, and German. Meta, 51(1), 131–150. Web.

Stevenson, M. (2021). How cultural change equals behavioral change. Betterupblog. Web.

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