Age group association

I don’t quite know what to do when my assumptions about “Africa” are utterly disproven with nothing else to take their place. I know the culture and worldview here are different and that those factors account for differences in ways of doing things, particularly as regards work habits, saving and spending money, and the family unit. When the way they do things here grates on my nerves, I look to justify it with cultural necessity, historic precedent, or as a trade-off negative side effect of a generally positive principle. But at times I find it hard to see the positive side. What if I return home as or more ethnocentric than when I left? In that case, shouldn’t my term here be judged worse than a failure?

It was a meeting I observed in the village in December which started me on this path again. Not that there’s anything inherently bad about this, but as I strolled through the village at dusk the other night, I came upon the palm-leaf shelter, thumping music and throbbing generator of a big event with a poster: “2nd Anniversary, Age group association, 18-21.” I recalled Dan saying that age groups do a lot together here. Sigh. Another strike against my attempt to balance the frustrations of village life with the positive characteristics and ways of doing I should learn from Cameroonians.

Is intra-age group socialization any different from at home? No, of course not, but isn’t one of the noble characteristics we assume exist in non-industrialized cultures that all ages live together in harmony and the young learn wisdom from their elders? What about “it takes a village to raise a child”? With what do I balance some of the negative characteristics of village life when these ideals of “community” are destroyed?


Popular Posts