Society problems

Technology, Culture and Society, By Toyin Falola

Culture encompasses technology and other attributable abstract or physical materials. Every culture is mainly dependent on technological breakthroughs. Different things would define societies, and they are mostly considered to be original to that society. However, society itself did not start out with this knowledge hovering above the waters as it did in the beginning. Each of the identical materials is encountered by the company in different places. These discoveries and their applications replicate the fact that technology itself is the premise of cultural identification.

The Nexus

It is common knowledge that the paradigm shift in the 21st century is rooted in technology and an easier way to achieve a goal. It is not hard to agree with the proposition that technology is the backbone of societal development. According to James Smith (2009) in his book, Science and technology for development, no matter how we attribute it to modernization, technology had its origin driven by man’s difficult path to the growth of society. Furthermore, culture can be considered as the indicator of the state of development of such a society in many ramifications. Edward Taylor, the famous anthropologist, expressed culture as meaning the attribute of the people in a society which has a continuous development from ‘savagery’ to ‘civilization’. In his mistitled book, Primitive culture: research on the development of mythology, philosophy, religion, language, art and custom, Taylor has defined culture almost exhaustively as “that complex whole which comprises knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and all other capacities and habits acquired by man as member of society”. In other words, culture involves science, the study of things, and includes technology as the application of science itself.

Essentially, technology is a process, and its presence is enhanced by culture in societal development. Nicolas Peterson (1968), in an article, “The Pestle and Mortar: An Ethnographic Analogy for Archeology in Arnhem Land”, believes that the need to break down complex consumable substances into pieces led to the discovery of how to bring them down, which led to the invention of grinding stones, pestle and mortar, old rickety grinders, and then advanced sophisticated grinders with manual operations and electronic power. Each of these ancient technologies, especially the pestle and mortar that characterized African heritage, were highly valued and used at the time. However, current trends have also become very popular and have become an identifiable attribute that is now part of us. The above analysis shows that technology, however exalted in its modernized and refined state, is a culture in its own right, new or old, as it has become habitual to those who experience it. use.

The technology of the past as a hallmark of cultural identification

Culture encompasses technology and other attributable abstract or physical materials. Every culture is mainly dependent on technological breakthroughs. Different things would define societies, and they are mostly considered to be original to that society. However, society itself did not start out with this knowledge hovering above the waters as it did in the beginning. Each of the identical materials is encountered by the company in different places. These discoveries and their applications replicate the fact that technology itself is the premise of cultural identification.

For example, the African fashion industry is prestigious for its uniqueness and integrity, and has been used as a symbol of Africanism. Popular Kente fabrics are often traceable to the Asante people of Ghana. This brilliance of a fabric creation can be attributed to the interaction with traders from the Sahara who brought different items and designs for sale to the Asante. As recorded in an Asante tradition, Akenten, the king at the time, developed an interest in silk and dyeing and wanted to develop Kente band weaving. Sjarief Hale (1970), in “Kente Cloth of Ghana”, says that Kente is made from traditional materials, which come in a variety of colors: yellow, red and blue, as well as new design blends of white , green , and black. The development of Kente highlights the fact that current cultural identities, perceived as rigid, are primarily the result of past flexibility. As a result, the Kente style evolved over hundreds of years and became synonymous with the Asante people. This cultural material was once a technological breakthrough from the knowledge of weaving obtained from various sources.

Culture has an attribute that is far from imminent. It evolves, and evolution is often attributed to the discovery of the technological know-how prevalent at that time. At every moment, the interaction of these two concepts redefines societal values ​​and gives a new face to ways of doing things. The discoveries have influenced religion, politics and other aspects of life in the past, and they have successfully identified themselves as eternal. The discovery of iron, which led to many technological breakthroughs, influenced African religions, the expansion of cities and the advancement of trade.

Since the early discovery of iron in Africa and the many stages of its development, society has adapted to its reality. For example, the Guinea Coast, the Yoruba, the Kingdom of Benin, the Fon, Dahomey, among others, revere the mythical and heroic god of iron for his legendary mastery of hunting war. Sandra T. Barnes (1980), in “Ogun: An Old God for a New Age”, posits that the religion formed around Ogun and that he became a god to this day with the symbolism of iron. Moreover, the invention of iron was at the origin of several historical conquests in Africa. An example was the aggressive Old Kingdom expeditions of Benin, as observed by Portuguese traders after the 15and century. Logically, there must always be a reaction and a counter-reaction when culture and technology collide. Indeed, society finds it difficult to adapt to contemporary technological advances, and a considerable part of them initially rebels against this.

With the pace of development and the realization of globalization, there has been a cross-circulation of technological discoveries globally, which may not be as easy as assumed. However, while many societies have refused to embrace technological advancements, Africa is one of the fastest growing continents to rapidly adapt to technology. For example, the introduction of mobile phones on the continent has been warmly embraced, and Africa is rapidly becoming a leading market for phones. Similar technological advancements have been welcomed with open arms on the continent, and diseases are being treated with high-level technological innovations.

Incorporating Technology and Culture: An Approach to Solving African Problems

In any society, technological development is a valued growth. But with the influx of foreign elements, these developments become strange, requiring additional and deliberate learning to work and potentially discriminating in terms of user experience. Society’s level of literacy has exacerbated this problem as some do not understand a product or how to use it. Consequently, companies on the African continent may not benefit from the best innovations. One way to solve this problem is to localize specialty products, where they are packaged in the unique language of the specific company. People will be ready and willing to use these products because they understand what is presented to them. Additionally, there should be a local alternative for technology development registries. For example, ‘iyan’, pounded yam, has been packaged in different forms and a preserved powdered variant that could be used without the traditional pounding method.

The fusion of cultural values ​​and modern development highlights the benefits that can accrue to a society that can afford to use these two concepts as a viable solution to the problems of the African continent. The incorporation of technology and culture can result in the economic engagement of society, especially in tourism. An obvious example is the exhibition of technology and culture at the upcoming Qatar 2022 World Cup, with stadiums designed to showcase key values ​​and cultural elements of society. For example, the Al Bayt stadium, which means “Arab tent”, displays the local Arab tent identical to Qatar. Also, Al Thumama Stadium represents the woven cap, called “Gahfiya”, which Arabs commonly use and other fantastic modern and innovative stadiums that would become focal points.

Let me conclude: As the world moves towards a global village and globalization campaigns gain momentum, Africa has become a profitable market for many innovative products. However, many of these products are imported and not produced in Africa. It therefore poses a challenge for African governments to invest heavily in the promotion and development of appropriate indigenous science and technology that will extract and transform Africa’s human and natural resources, while meeting environmental and cultures of Africans. In addition, opportunities for the development of innovative ideas should be made available, and these ideas should be promoted and adopted by the state to encourage others. In addition, the government should form a public-private partnership focused on technological development and the promotion of basic ideas for the advancement of the continent.

Toyin Falola, Professor of History, University Professor Emeritus, and Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin, is the Bobapitan of Ibadanland.

This is an excerpt from a lecture given at the Technical University of Kenya on March 16.


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