Betsie Smith


The traditional worldview and culture of Africa was very different from that of the West today: man was at the center of a religious universe; time was generally felt to be under the control of man, not the reverse; the belief that the dead are able to influence the living enhanced reverence for the elderly; a belief in collectivism was far stronger than a belief in individualism. Colonial- ism, the Cold War, and three decades following independence upset the traditional African worldview and created bewildering frictions within the political, economic, and social wellbeing of the continent. The role of African leaders who have been exiled or have lived in the West is examined. Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki are regarded as contemporary African leaders who traverse the divide between the traditional Africa and the individualistic, materialistic, scientific West. For future African leaders, the test will be whether they are able to recognize and sustain the contradictions between the traditional and the modern. Finally, the author speculates that Africa’s traditional worldview may enable it to make a valuable contribution to the world in the field of human relationship, giving the world a more human face.



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