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African Cultural Traditions and Communication Essay

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Updated: Apr 29th, 2021

Introduction

Many people associate Africa with wildlife, nature reserves, safari, and people with spears. However, Africa is not only about it. Africa is a continent with a wonderful and diverse culture because Africa consists of different tribes. Unfortunately, there are a lot of countries with the shortest life expectancy rates and the low quality of life in Africa.

Personal Information

I am a 28-year-old Colombian-American from the middle class. I am a hairstylist, and I have my own Photo Booth business, so I work for myself. I am a frequent flyer and traveler, and I usually take three trips a year around the world. I have seen, heard, and read enough to learn about Africa. I was a photojournalist in the military, so I traveled a lot through Asia and Africa. I was lucky enough to stay in Kenya for a week and experience the African lifestyle with a Masai tribe in 2013.

Interpersonal and Public Multicultural Communication

To understand the essence of multicultural communications, firstly, it is important to consider globalization because globalization and multicultural communications are closely connected with each other. Globalization is the transformation of the world into a single space. It can be said that globalization contributes to multicultural communications. It has become easier to travel and communicate due to modern technologies.

There are different ways of communication. However, they all can be divided into two types: nonverbal and verbal. Body language (facial expressions, body movements, tone of voice) refers to the nonverbal form of communication. The verbal ways of communication are divided into written and oral communication. Examples of written communication ways are letters, typed electronic documents, messages, and others. Written verbal communications refer to formal business communication mainly. The other form of verbal communication is oral communication. Oral communication is the most common form of communication. The effectiveness of oral conversations depends on a variety of factors such as ways of talking, speech strategies, humor, aesthetics, greetings, metaphors, and others. Dialects and idioms should be paid a lot of attention to because it is quite difficult for a non-native speaker to capture the meaning of some metaphors or specific greetings. The same holds true for humor.

Scenes in the barbershop from the movie Malcolm X (1992) demonstrate black men’s communication with each other. Both communication forms, verbal and nonverbal, can be noticed. Black men use a mixed variety of facial expressions, and they have a certain kind of sense of humor. Besides, they use their own style of greetings (gestures). In their essay, Huling, Murray, and Houston (2012) describe another example of intracultural and intercultural communication with the focus on safe spaces for speaking and language style.

Cultural Traditions and Celebrations

African traditions have a lot of different kinds and forms. It is expressed through music, dance, and art. Although Africa is divided into a great number of ethnic groups, and each group has its own spirituality, all of them create the whole African culture. Oral tradition is the foundation of rich African culture. Oral traditions refer to languages. Language is an essential part of any culture because due to it, local traditions are transmitted from generation to generation. In his essay, Gordon (2012) describes Jamaican talk and underlines that “Jamaican language creates a sense of identity and solidarity among the speakers” (p. 142). A language determines the way of thinking and living, traditions, folklore, and other important things.

Moreover, oral tradition is related to music and singing that are some of the most important aspects of African culture. Music and singing play a key role in African traditions because all celebrations such as weddings and different festivals cannot be held without songs. There are a lot of specific celebrations such as musical, religious, and harvest festivals within the continent. In his essay, Hamlet (2012) describes the style of preachers in traditional black churches and emphasizes that this style contributes to preserving the cultural identity of black communities.

Musical preferences and styles are different in every African region. However, there are some common characteristics. For instance, the drum is the main instrument in African music. Apart from oral traditions, dancing is an essential part of African traditions. African people tend to dance to express emotion and to praise their gods.

The Journeying

Nowadays, the immigration problem is the most burning in the world. A lot of people from African developing countries are moving to the developed world, the United States of America and European countries in particular. It cannot be denied that these migration flows have a significant impact on society. Developing countries, the so-called third world, are suffering from a lack of natural and financial resources along with bad medical services and poor education. A lot of people become immigrants and refugees and come to the developed in order to get a better life. The movie Blood Diamond (2006) demonstrates how the poor living conditions that people cannot change can demoralize a society. Apart from immigrants and refugees, there are a lot of people in exile all across the globe.

Besides, slavery is one more today’s problem. Many people think that slavery is a form of premodern labor practice that has been banned a few centuries ago. According to Crane (2013), “slavery is not simply a feature of economic history; it persists in various forms and contexts in modern business, including traditional slavery, bonded labor, human trafficking, and forced labor” (p. 49). Forced cultural transportation is widespread within Africa.

Conclusion

To sum up, humanity lives in the time of globalization. Although countries are becoming more connected with each other, and the communication process is becoming easier, there are some obvious problems in intercultural relationships and communication. The brightest example is the African Americans. There is no doubt that people from different cultures are under pressure. Sometimes it is very tough for a human of one culture to accept some habits and traditions of a completely different world because people think through categories. It is necessary for a human to use categories to make an inference and increase the accuracy of understanding. What is more, categorization is an essential part of an intercultural communication because when people meet something or someone unfamiliar, the first thing they do is trying to compare the unfamiliar subject with the familiar one. Although the United States of America is a multinational country that shelters immigrants who come to the United States to get a better life, there is a decrease in intolerance and an increase in distrust in American society nowadays. The majority of people do not like foreigners. The problems of intolerance and ethnocentrism are the most burning nowadays. However, governments and different media pay a lot of attention to them.

References

Crane, A. (2013). Modern slavery as a management practice: Exploring the conditions and capabilities for human exploitation. Academy of Management Review, 38(1), 49-69.

Gordon, D. B. (2012). Identity and struggle in Jamaican talk. In A. Gonzalez (Ed.), Our voices: Essays in culture, ethnicity, and communication (pp. 141-150). New York, NY: Oxford University Press

Hamlet, J. D. (2012). The reason why we sing: Understanding traditional African American worship. In A. Gonzalez (Ed.), Our voices: Essays in culture, ethnicity, and communication (pp. 113-121). New York, NY: Oxford University Press

Herskovitz, M. (Producer), & Zwick, E. (Director). (2006). Blood Diamond [Motion picture]. The United States of America: Warner Bros.

Huling, N, Murray C., & Houston, M. (2012). Sister-friends: Reflections on black women’s communication in intra- & intercultural friendships. In A. Gonzalez (Ed.), Our voices: Essays in culture, ethnicity, and communication (pp. 92-98). New York, NY: Oxford University Press

Worth, M. (Producer) & Lee, S. (Director). (1992). Malcolm X [Motion picture]. The United States of America: 40 Acres and a Mule.

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