Native Culture a Casualty of Urbanization

Today more than half the world’s people live in major cities. In industrialized nations the figure is generally much higher, between 70 and 90%. The mechanization of farming and other rural-based industries has resulted in mass migration to the metropolitan centers over the past few generations, as families and individuals have pursued the increasing opportunities for education and employment, along with a more comfortable and attractive existence,

One side-effect of this has been the loss of traditional culture and identity. Those who live in the major cities are no longer adhering to the values of any particular nation or ethnicity. Rather they have been absorbed into a uniform ‘global culture’ which transcends borders, oceans and continents and is homogenous to metropolitan centers all over the planet. The lifestyles of citizens in Johannesburg, New York, Istanbul and Paris have more in common than they do with those of the people in the provinces of their own respective nations.

And probably the biggest casualty has been native culture. Even after the colonial invasions, the genocide and the land-theft, some vestiges of the indigenous way of life remained. Initially the newcomers lived side-by-side with the communities they had conquered, observing them in their natural habitat, trading with them and learning something of their languages. If nothing else, they at least understood them.

But with the exodus to the cities they left all that behind. In the ‘global culture’ of the metropolis they would learn about the US and Europe and begin to adopt their values. Schools would provide them with a European education; while the entertainment industry would brainwash them to think and behave like Americans. Native culture was by and large ignored, and thereby swiftly forgotten. And Neither was any of this an accident on the part of the powers-that-be.

An alternative image of the indigenous community was presented. Native peoples, less inclined toward the Euro-American lifestyle of the cities, tended to be slower to join the exodus, and would arrive belatedly like foreigners in their own country – no longer masters of their own habitat, but a strange, maladjusted minority – the drinker and the smoker, the cheater and the wife-beater, the gangster and the thief. These became the traits of the stereotypical urban native; conveyed ad infinitum by the media and entertainment industries.

This cultural genocide continued even as the former colonies were starting to acknowledge the crimes of the past (a scenario which invariably occurs only once all those responsible are dead and out of the way). In this manner native culture was buried by the urbanization process, and eventually the natives themselves began to forget their own heritage, so that a conscious effort has been required in order to revive it,


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