I am currently reading ‘The Shadow of the Sun’ by Ryszard Kapuscinski. I am not far into it but I am finding it hard going in parts. Kapuscinski is a Polish journalist that lived in Africa for several years. When he is telling a story he captures the moment beautifully. When he is discussing the politics of African independence he becomes verbose and I struggle.
That being said, here is a snippet that I loved.
‘Individualism is highly prized in Europe, and perhaps nowhere more so than in America; in Africa, it is synonymous with unhappiness, with being accursed. African tradition is collectivist, for only in a harmonious group could one face the obstacles continually thrown up by nature’.
There is something innate in me that wants to be ‘collectivist’. I want to feel like I belong, that I am necessary, that being a part of a collective whole is more important than I alone. The beauty of feeling like you belong is that when an ‘obstacle’ does come hurtling towards you, there is safety in numbers. I think most people feel that deep sense of wanting to belong but as a culture we have lost many valid expressions of it. We have cultivated individualism to the point of severity.
The African tradition of collectivism is born out of necessity and inevitability. Perhaps we are reaching a place in our society where we too will finally discover that we need each other to survive.