Indigenous people’s history has often been a story of oppression and marginalization. The choices of how to live their lives have been and are still limited. The promotion of ideas that connects ‘progress’ and ‘development’ with a Western ideal have lead to that many people are abandoning their traditions since preservation is seen to be backwards. A lot of knowledge disappears every day, which is a sad development since knowledge is contextually bound and adapted to each people’s reality, whereby a loss of it also means that the ability to understand ones roots disappear. These ideals do mask the fact that tradition and modernization are not in opposition but two parts of life. Even if culture is a process it does not mean that the symbolic search for these roots is unnecessary and anti-modern. To do so does not per definition mean that you want freeze in time, the search is often a part of the work with positioning in the modern world. Tradition today means the choice to create communities for growing awareness and to obtain space in the society. To explore your own cultural heritage is important for the creation of a complete identity. A person who feels secure and proud of whom he or she is will have the power to demand respect and the right to self-interpretation.
In the light of the increased spread of globalization the vulnerability of many groups are also increasing since in many areas the only sign of the process is the spread of the consumer society and also an even stronger Westernization discourse. Therefore the process also brings with it the fear of cultural homogenization, that the global will overtake the local, and that people in the end will have the same lifestyle everywhere, and therefore that the rich diversity that exists today will disappear.
Most people today need to deal with the changes that the globalization is bringing, one of these being the increased contacts between people from all corners of the world. These meetings are often positive, we learn more about how other persons live and look upon things, but at the same time a new form of racism has emerged where differences are no longer explained by race but where explanations to people’s behavior are to be found in their culture. We are all shaped by our culture, our language and our roots. Our identities are formed under those terms but still we cannot talk about any natural entities. A crucial issue for the future will however be how we can learn to deal with these cultural meetings; how can we build mutual understanding built on respect for each other?
With this question another related issue is arising, the development towards a more globalized world might require new forms of education, where knowledge is defined in a broader way and where the goal is not to create uniform citizens. The aim should instead be to strengthen people’s identity so that they can feel secure in themselves but also to promote meetings and respect for others. It should be both more adapted to each person’s reality and situation but also build on more confrontation between different ways of thinking. If we want to counteract the negative aspects of globalization, manifest in the facts that the power seems to move further and further away from the citizens and where a lot of decisions are made by market forces, the need to build alliances for resistance is growing. In order to be able to cooperate and create new alternatives a real exchange between peoples and cultures through horizontal contacts must be made possible so that we can unite globally from a local level. All do we have something to give but also to learn. The understanding that we need to both offer something and be prepared to change ourselves in the meetings with others are of vital importance for building societies were everyone feel respected.
The purpose of this essay is to explore what is happening in the crossroads between tradition and modernization in the light of globalization with focus on Tanzania. What happens in meetings between different cultures and how can we all increase our intercultural competence. What kind of education is required to promote this thought, and in connection how do we look upon knowledge and how it is acquired?
The process leading to the writing of this essay started in the autumn of 2001, when I as a student at Färnebo Folkhögskola attended the first Intercultural Pedagogy seminar at the University of Linköping. The whole concept was new to me and in addition the discussion was very much on a philosophical level. Since the aim of the course I was taking was to work as a facilitator at the Universidad Intercultural Indígena in Bolivia at their version of the Intercultural course some worries arose, but later in an isolated rural area south of Santa Cruz the Guaraní discussed the concept with much more clarity, and without any formal higher education they could make a definition that was really to the point. It was very fascinating and inspiring, and while returning home my interest in Bolivia, the indigenous peoples special situation and education continued. When I two years later had the opportunity to plan and carry through my own project I decided to make an investigation in Tanzania to see if the experiences from Kawsay and their course in Intercultural Pedagogy had any relevance also in other context. To succeed with this I needed to look upon the general structures of the two countries but also to make interviews concerning the basic themes in the Intercultural Pedagogy course on the individual level in order to be able to trace if there existed common experiences between the Tanzanians and people I had meet in Bolivia. In addition to this I made a participatory observation at the organization Aang Serian which to a big extent work with the same questions as Kawsay. All the time I tried to get more knowledge about how people looked upon the world.
My approach is therefore not to reflect objective truths but to study certain people’s apprehensions of their reality, which means a qualitative study. The focus is mainly on Tanzania, and here my own experiences will play a major role. The knowledge has been obtained through people not books, and this also reflects my own learning process. Meetings and to learn from others and to try to understand them are according to me one of the cornerstones of the Intercultural Pedagogy course, while such an approach is definitely justifiable.
I have chosen to write in English because of the fact that I really would like to be able to share the findings with the Tanzanian people who made this study possible.
1.4 Material and source critique
The essay takes its departure in interviews, notes and articles (I have written myself) collected in Tanzania. These primary sources in the form of interviews and articles will be complimented with parts based on written secondary sources since the elaboration of the questions raised in the essay also require a more academic and theoretical framework to anchor the findings in a wider perspective.
It is important to reflect over the sources to find out if they are reliable and valid, but in the case of my interview it is not relevant to judge them according to those criteria since they are about opinions and not facts. I was asking for their views on certain issues and they cannot be called true or false. I chose to interview people connected to the organization I was working with since I was interested in their views for the investigation about the cooperation issue. I tried to obtain a diversity but it was hard. Five men were interviewed and one woman. Two were working in the organization, three were members and one was the secretary. I was interested in the view of the young so I interviewed five people that were 23 and one that was 28.They are three Chagga, two Maasai (that was interview together) and one Msambaa. Since the main point of the essay is not compare their views they will be quoted anonymously.
In the villages the elders where interviewed collectively and therefore their opinions are not divided individually. And also here it was their perceptions that was searched for, not any ‘truth’.
The books used are mainly academic, which means that they have gone through a proper fact inspection.
The overall frame which the essay is situated in is the globalization, since it is this process that are causing many of the changes happening today. The background will provide some explanation to how it can be understood. Thereafter the issue of culture and cultural meetings will be raised which will lead to a discussion about interculturality and intercultural education. All the time the text will be a mix between quotes from the Tanzanian interviews and secondary sources. The last part of the essay will deal with two organizations working with new forms of education, and also about how the education looked like traditionally in Tanzania.
Håkan Thörn writes that the globalization should not just be seen as an economical phenomena since it such a multidimensional and contradictory process that also has political and cultural dimensions (Thörn 2002:27). According to Mary Kaldor it is usually two things that are in focus when referring to the globalization: "the spread of global capitalism as well as to an array of policies which facilitates this spread" or "globalization as growing interconnectedness in all fields- political, military, economic and cultural." An important part of this definition is also the way that improved technology has made it possible to reduce distances (Kaldor 2003:111).
Stier elaborates these thoughts and summarizes the globalization debate by writing that many scholars highlight the global everyday life as a homogenization process between cultures and countries since people dress the same, act similar and listens to the same music everywhere. The advocates see the globalization as a way to a better, more fair world with bigger tolerance and respect between people. While the critics say that is just an expression of the West’s aspirations of ruling the world, a form of cultural imperialism and thereby only another way to find new markets for products, to secure growth and increase the profit for the multinational companies. Others see it as an Americanization or Mcdonaldization expressed by the constant presence of American culture, lifestyle, fast food, TV and music (Stier 2003:37).
Many people nowadays do share a feeling of that the globalization has big consequences for their lives and that it in some ways contributes to uniformity. As a concept it is today rooted in many people’s minds but often it can feel abstract and like something acting on a different arena, away from the reality of everyday life (Thörn 2002:27). This in such a high degree though that most changes are referred to as a result of this invisible power. Something that is reflected in these thoughts:
“The globalization comes from far away. Some people wants to create business in this world. One way business affects people, it has opposite and negative sides. But still the way I believe the globalization starts from the schools as soon as we step into the classrooms before we had our own education and everything. The ones creating business also created the education. The government accept that business. Instead maybe we could only take the positive sides, even in our culture we had positive and negative sides. We could take the positive sides from both. It is hard for us Tanzanians, we try to have traditional customs and globalization, which means that we have the negative sides and the positive sides from both. We should take the positive sides from both and build something better. It is hard to say that we don't want to be in the globalization thing because it means you don't want anybody to hear about you.“ “The globalization is really affecting the identity, it makes me live in a nation-country that is already programmed, this is how you need to be if you want progress, they restructured me into a system. The system forced me to be like that. There is a structure of forcing into a 'happy' life if we want employment we can't speak only tribal language or Swahili.”
“The people follow the music from abroad, hip hop. They want to buy good things and clothes which they see in the videos and on the internet. There is a lot of languages on the internet but no Chagga or Maasai. The people here want to be like the others.”
"It does effect a lot. It effects wearing, now people are wearing trousers before they didn't. It also effects circumcision before this globalization it was done in another way. Sometimes now people do it in another way, and if they do that they have already broken the culture because in the circumcision you are taught a lot." “No, not identity. Because every country in this world is in it. You must accept it even if it's good or bad. The government insists that we should be like the others. Sometimes when my organization is doing capacity building with other NGOs they say that globalization is affecting us. Like for example privatizations; they come with whole administrations and only employ a few Tanzanians so where will we go? Sometimes we need to accept it because we are a poor country, and when they bring conditions sometimes we need to agree to get funds.”
2. Changing cultures
Often cultures are looked upon as natural entities and to strive to withhold the boundaries are seen as a cultural right. And according to that thesis there exists a problem when we start to mix cultures, since this will be looked upon as a threat and cause conflicts. On the other hand there are a lot of people arguing that the notion of a cultural essence is a political myth because there has never existed any unmixed and homogenous cultures. They are always shaped and reshaped in relation to each other (Eriksson et al. 1999:42).
Lie means that cultural identities change by adopting and integrating elements from other cultures in a process of encounter and negotiation. That does not necessarily mean that an increase in cultural contacts would lead to a single world culture. Examples that are often cited is that we all watch the same soap-operas while in fact these are reshaped according to local culture as well as are the different services at McDonalds. Lie argues that people will always give a phenomena a position in daily life that depends on the existing local cultural lifestyle and interpretations. Also is added that the assumption that cultures change as a result of contacts with Western cultures is of course true but is a Western-oriented thinking: “the same cultures can change, even more dramatically, because of contacts with other non-Western cultures. In this case nobody talks about globalization, if they are even aware of these contacts”. In this is also implied that before the cultural contacts with the West the so called third-world countries would have had traditional, authentic and indigenous cultures (Lie 2003:54, 77f, 60).
Another author that criticizes the westernization thought is John Tomlison even though he starts with writing that the globalized culture arising today is not a culture that has emerged out of mutual experiences and needs of humanity and that it does not consist of equal parts of the world’s diverse cultural traditions. It is not balanced and inclusive and could rather be described as the installation of one particular culture born out of one specific historical context, that is an extension of the Western culture. His point being though that the whole idea of Westernization/homogenization/cultural imperialism displays an ethnocentric view. The concept is very broad and is not a full package to be sold on the market, some cultural goods have stronger appeal than others, the same with values, some are easily adopted while others are not and this varies between societies and different groupings. As well there is not only a one way flow of cultural influence, and it is also argued that culture does not transfer in such a way since movements between cultural or geographical areas always involves translation, mutation and adaptation to local circumstances (Tomlison 1999:23f). People always seeks to categorize, interpret and find meaning in what they see and in that continuos learning process we daily internalize new cultural material into our frames of reference. The culture often then becomes an every-day-knowledge that is not so much questioned (Stier 2004:87f). Lie argues that knowledge is always local since all interpretations are locally constructed (Lie 2003:200), and María Borgström writes that knowledge is historical, culture specific and dependent on the context (Borgström 2004:39). Stier continues the discussion while writing that every culture has their own way of looking upon knowledge, how it is created, how it should be valued and who has the power of interpretation in certain contexts. For example in the West scientific and academic knowledge produced according to certain rules are most highly valued (Stier 2004:79).
2.1 Cultural meetings
Stier defines a cultural meeting as an encounter with the unknown and unfamiliar, and also writes that we often are suspicious and have a fear for things that are new and not known to us. And a fact is that cultural meetings throughout the history often have led to conflicts and oppression, some examples are indigenous peoples encounter with the Europeans and the Nazi extinction of the Jews. About colonialism two Tanzanian youth express these opinions:
“Absolutely it effected a lot of things since before colonialism peoples had they're own ways of living. The colonialists introduced a new system where you needed to work and the idea of employment. You now needed to work for somebody else to get paid. They brought this structure and it caused conflicts.
We Chagga are the first people that had access to education, for other tribes this has been strange since we do things differently and they ignore us. Other tribes think that the Chagga don't have any customs and traditions. And others says that we don't know our traditions.”
“For impact, sometimes it was good for the development because they were here for one purpose but when they left, they left a lot of things for us. This is just for us I don't now about our elders.
I believe our elders, they suffered so much but as a result it is good for us. A lot of people blame it (colonialism) but if you study a lot about it you can see that the suffering brought good. They accumulated wealth from us but they left a lot of things. We had wealth but we didn't know how to use it. They built infrastructure for their own purpose but now it is just for our use. They opened fields for cultivation, that we didn't know how to use before. But I believe it was God's will, he provided this”.
But at the same time there are many examples of peaceful meetings where cultural coexistence and mutual respect have emerged. Clear is anyway that whenever people meet they make an impact on each other, and in cultural groups it often means that some particularities will be incorporated in the practices of the other. Many today accepted traditions were once new and unwanted influences (Stier 2004:125f, 110f), cultures are not static entities but are processes (Thörn 2002:124). This also undermines the commonly stated concept of ‘cultural clashes’, where cultures are seen like balls that would push away each other when meeting, and where you only have the possibility to belong to one of them (Sernhede 2002:22). One point to remember though is that cultural influences seldom are symmetric, the unequal power relations always make some practices more influential and widely spread (Stier 2004:110). At the same time the assumption of cultural meetings, conflicts and mixtures also requires that there exists cultural forms that have a certain stability (Thörn 2002:125).
Tanzania is a country consisting of great diversity which makes it interesting to study the interaction between different tribes. These are some viewpoints on the matter :
“All tribes are human beings, if I meet a Maasai we are still all the same. We can respect them because we are all Tanzanians. We are the same even though there are differences in customs, tribes and believes”.
“There is a lot. Chagga believe that that is the best tribe. There are problems when I and others come back to the village and can't speak chagga because the village people will call them names and ask who are you people who can't speak your tribe language.
Each tribe have their own ways of living. In the beginning the Chagga couldn't marry with other tribes or not specifically Chagga but people from the Kilimanjaro region. But now the system has changed. The globalization has changed it. People marry people from Tabora our wherever. This came from Julius Nyerere to fight tribalism. When a person graduated the person from Kilimanjaro would be sent to Tabora and the person graduating from Tabora to Kilimanjaro, from that time all are friends and can live together. There are troubles of getting accepted by the elders when marrying from other regions, it becomes a discussion why. We are the ones that need to make these changes, we shouldn't be in the former structure.”
“Chagga are educated and not all tribes are that. The maasai don't want to be educated, but within the Chagga if the dad is educated the children will get education. Among the Maasai not even the grandparents have education, and they will not educate their children. They don't understand the importance of education and therefore they keep their traditions. They are less developed. The good tribes know about development and have education. The Sukumas for example are back and also the Wachigwa from Tanga.”