But African values are not on sale
Some have the power to prevent it, and if they would the time is now, because there is such a weakness in the governments of the countries that are suffering from Boko Haram that if something is not done quickly there could be a connection of all these terrorist organizations, which would cause a much greater disaster. Furthermore, once they claim territory for themselves in the North of Africa, Nigeria, Chad and so forth, then we have a much bigger problem on our hands. I think that should not be allowed to happen.
You spoke earlier about a new cultural imperialism being carried out in Africa. In his recent trip to the Philippines, Pope Francis spoke of what he called an “ideological colonization” that is seeking to destroy the family. Would you like to say more about this?
I would like to say, for example, that the African set of values seem to be different from the modern Western world hierarchy of values. The African talks about the sanctity of life. In the West, there is too much insistence on the quality of life. That’s why for the African a child is a treasure, even if that child is going to have to go through some difficulty in growing up. In the West, if a child cannot have the best of life, then it should not live. That’s not the African world view.
The African world view is that every life is sacred and useful and a treasure. Because the African looks at today as inferior to tomorrow. You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow, but there’s always hope. And based on that, the whole movement that in the name of family planning is pushing for what the Pope has called the “culture of death”, i.e. contraception, abortion and all such things that limits the existence of people, is abhorrent to the African, and the average African on the streets resists that.
I was walking along the street here in Rome only two days ago. I saw an African — one of those who sells bags — and I said hello to him. I always say hello. He came to me and gave me a little tortoise which he had carved, and said to me: “That’s a gift from my country”. Then he said: “For the African, life is the most important thing”.
For the African, if there are 30 of us needing to stay in one room, all well and good. We’ll manage. But in the West you start by saying: “Now this room can’t hold more than two people. Where will the rest go? They’ll have to go elsewhere.” That’s not the African world view. And I think that all the effort to make Africans accept what is not acceptable to them is immoral, and should not be allowed to continue for any reason at all.
You do know about Uganda, in which the government had put in place legislation against, for example, homosexuality, because it wasn’t part of the culture. And Uganda was eventually forced to change that legislation if it was going to have the benefit of a grant from the United States.
Now, let me put it this way. The Western world claims that every kind of right is a human right, and that every behavior must have the status of a human right. We say no. Not every human behavior has the status of a human right. There are human rights, and there are human behaviors. But not every human behavior has that status. The African believes this because he always starts from the higher being. God is always there and has a place in the life of an African.
In the West, on the other hand, for whatever reason, there is no need for that kind of God anymore. Everything is okay: a good life, and you can explain everything. The African refuses to be able to explain everything.
I think there has been an exaggerated sense of human freedom in the West. Freedom that has no limits, that an individual is totally free. But total freedom becomes license. And the African doesn’t see the world like that. The African believes that his life is a gift, and it has worked well for Africa. That is why we still have a keen sense of family. That is why we have a keen sense of humanity. Your family does not stop with your father’s children or your mother’s children, but extends to other people who have any kind of kinship with you. And it has worked well for Africa. So there is an exaggerated sense of freedom without responsibility, which probably came from the whole bill of rights of the United Nations. Now there is a whole bill of rights for children, but I’m not seeing a bill of responsibilities. So it’s a totally different worldview, and I think it has provoked individualism, relativism, materialism, consumerism in the West, which is quite limited in Africa.
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