John: Guess what?
John: Do you know that James has died?
Peter: WHAT!!! When? How? What happened? I just spoke to him 2 days ago… What is happening?
John: They said he just slumped and died… I don’t understand… He’s not even up to 40
This type of conversation is becoming so common now, it’s annoying. Did you know that for a number of people 2016 was a year of deaths for them? People couldn’t wait for 2017 to come so they could just forget about 2016 and the losses they experienced. Today you hear on the news that ABC died of kidney failure, tomorrow you hear that XYZ slumped and died, then the day after you hear that “this young and vibrant person” has been diagnosed with cancer or diabetes or heart disease or any other long-term condition known under the sun or Lagbaja died at 40 after “a brief illness”. Then you ask yourself “WHAT IS GOING ON? WHAT HAPPENED? HOW? WHY?” But a major question we sometimes forget to ask is “WHAT IS CAUSING ALL THESE AILMENTS?” As an African or Nigerian in this case, these disease and conditions are foreign to us because we are not known to have ailments like those. They are locally labelled “White Man Disease”. Through our history line (at least family history) from the 3rd or 4th generation backwards, we find that most of our forefathers died more from old age or war than most ailments in a medical textbooks.
So, between then and now, what has changed? What were we doing then that we have stopped or decreased in doing now? What are we doing now that we were not doing then? Honestly, I believe the main culprit is CIVILIZATION and INDUSTRIALIZATION, otherwise known as Westernization. Don’t get me wrong, civilization has done several great things for our world in general like hospitals, hygiene, technology, innovations, social justice, and lots more. But the unspoken truth is that, these good things have brought with it some unintended consequences. Who would have guessed then that soot and smoke from machines of all kinds will be the demise of our lungs, hearts and other parts of our health? Who would have known then that the discovery of “Black Gold” aka crude oil which was one of the most celebrated discoveries, would be a major contaminant to our air, food, water and natural reserves? But alas, that is what they brought. Let’s not also forget that junk foods are gradually replacing our homemade local meals, or that our kids know the names of every pastry food or noodles but are unable to name or identify our indigenous ingredients or food.
Thankfully, now people are waking up around the world, but Africa is still trying to pick up itself so it can catch up with the riches they missed out from industrialization. What we need to do is open our eyes, take note of the mistakes made by the western nations in their journey to industrialization, learn from them and adopt methods and options that indigenous to us but yet sustainable. The areas where sustainable methods can be applied include Agriculture (Using sustainable farming practices)
Increased use renewable resources
Less reliance on chemicals
Sustainable Health Practices
Natural Health Remedies
And the list goes on. My hope is to use this medium to bring awareness to the fact that we don’t have to experience the terrible consequences of civilization and industrialization before we make healthier and more sustainable choices. Also, to help us realise that as Africans we have something valuable in our lifestyle, culture, and indigenous foods that are sustainable and healthy which we have every reason to be proud of, promote and share with the world.
I would love to hear what you think about Westernization, Industrialization and Civilization by leaving your comments.