Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Western impact, Eastern society

Another journal entry...I've time to spare so I figured I would put it up.

I have never seen the implementation of such an extreme mix of cultures in my life. I'm at a church service right now just outside of Maralol, Kenya. There is a sound system projecting the sound waves of a keyboardist who is playing traditional African music to the pounding of, not a real drum, but of a preexisting rhythm programmed in his half-sized Casio keyboard--the choir is up now shouting, dancing, and singing in a native Kenyan style and language while most of them are dressed uniformly in matching gray business suits all poised around a singular microphone. There are probably 50 children here, several of whom might not eat tonight, sitting under a tree sporting bright yellow, screen-printed Sunday school t-shirts.
Now that I think about it, where is the electricity coming from?
How are there over 100 people here and only 3 cars in the parking lot?
Is that a lamb I hear baa-ing ever few minutes?
I've not seen a computer since Nairobi was in my hindsight, but pardon my neighbor to my left--he has an important text to attend to...or 6.

I know this sounds bitter but it isn't. Not intentionally anyway. My opinion on the matter is of no concern to me at the moment and, in fact, even if I did attempt to thwart an opinion on these kisses of Capitalism that have nuzzled themselves right down the neck of this section of society I wouldn't know where to begin. No, this is simply an observation.

Vessels of Westernism have gone beyond the doorstep of this community. Whether on purpose or not the people here have welcomed and embraced the benefits and, incoherently, the potential evils of Western thought from riding on the coat tails of the West's ever quickening advancement as a civilization. The marriage of the 2, of traditional Kenyan social devices and communal interactions derived from the East and the contemporary "communicative" mechanisms of the West, has coupled the 2 at this social function where a culture clashed child has come into existence right in front of me.

Many would say this is wrong and that we have tainted the ornate fabrics of Kenyan culture, and to them I say who am I, or you, to dictate the "direction" of their cultural advancement, to refrain them from attempting to bettering themselves advance themselves via technology in the same way all of humanity has done throughout the course of history? Much of my purpose in coming to Kenya has been to work alongside a native Kenyan man and to document the fruits of his labor in the development of water wells, which are only discovered, analyzed, and drilled via the benefits of Western technologies. I have had several discussions with him about the dangers of introducing modern technologies to an in indigenous community and he is convinced that without being given access to clean water, for one reason or another, there would be no culture to degrade because the people, and therefore their culture, would simply cease to exist.

Others would say "This is great! Our technologies are becoming so accessible even the far reaching portions of the planet are using it!" And to them I ask, would you give a child a gun and send him into battle? Hush your voice and be intentional with your actions; young ears are listening and without proper instruction you could be handing the child a grenade and calling it candy.

For me, today, there isn't much I can do but learn. Learn and listen to the quiet buzz of the PA system that in a strange way reminds me of my comforts of home so for a moment I can pretend I don't miss it. It's the same buzz and feedback that happens in the sound system of my tiny, country church that is currently over 8,000 miles away from me, that buzz and the pang that shrieks through everyone's ears caused from a quirk in the wires of an electronic system that is just the right tone and pitch to transcend time and space and sets me back at the feet of a global marketing giant where communication with my friends is a text away, my shopping needs are a few keystrokes away, and my school and work is a short drive away. As for tomorrow, well we'll see. It has yet to arrive.

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