Cultural neutrality: killer of national growth

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A car is a machine that is formed by assembling and programming different elements to work together in agreement. These parts include the gearbox, engine, axle, carburettor, fuel pump, battery, plugs, breaks, steering and all other parts that contribute to the movement of a car. The car functions well when all the mechanical parts are working well on their own before being and properly connected to the other parts to form a full functioning car. Likewise a prosperous nation is an assembly of various kingdoms and communities who are productive and responsible on their own before agreeing to live and work together with one another as one political entity for their increased productivity, security and wellbeing, not by adopting cultural neutrality.

In their effort to gain support from more of the masses within a political area, some politicians try to deny the differences and peculiarity between people. They try to deny the difference between ethnic communities, ethnic groups, tribes and other levels of social distinctions. This happens mostly in a country with opposing communities and cultures, where political candidates seek to gain popularity from people of different communities and cultures by denying their own communities or adopting cultural neutrality about their place of origin. Though this strategy of adopting ethnic and cultural neutrality works to get election candidates the votes they need to win, this cultural neutrality often ends up distracting the people from focusing to build their particular ethnic communities as parts of a bigger body, country, that depends on the productivity of every part to be successful, just as a car depends on the functionality of all its mechanical parts to function well.

Types of community in the modern times
With the indiscriminate use of the words ‘community’ and ‘culture’ to refer to various levels of groups and identities in the modern times, it becomes necessary to distinguish between the different possible types and stages of community. Therefore, communities can be grouped into three stages, namely, the natural or primary community, the physical or secondary community and the instrumental or tertiary community. This tertiary or instrumental community consists of three groups.

• The natural or primary community is the ethnic community into which a person is born and from which the person derives his or her cultural identity, ancestral heritage and geographical territory. Ethnic community is a group of interconnected families who occupy a specific area, and are related by a traceable common ancestry, histories and ancestral lands. The ethnic community connects a person to blood relatives and people who share common ancestry, and is the basic custodian of a people’s way of life. Hence, the prevalent way of life within an ethnic community can be referred to as ethnic culture or tradition.

• The physical or secondary community is an individual’s residential community. The residential community is a community, which is different from a person’s ethnic community or ancestral heritage, but where an individual physically resides. This is a community where an individual is born or to which the individual relocates, applies or naturalizes and becomes its citizen, or its permanent or temporary resident. Unlike the ethnic community, people’s residential community is not defined by ancestry, blood or ethnicity, and can extend to any location where an individual is able to officially gain entry, fit in and abide by the laws. So, a residential community connects an individual to neighbours, friends, compatriots and other people who stay within a specific physical location but are not connected by blood or common ancestry.

Residential community can be divided between domestic residential community and foreign residential community. The domestic residential community is a place outside one’s ethnic community that shares a permanent political or national link with one’s ethnic community. For instance, Nigeria is a country of various ethnic groups like Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba, Tiv, Ibibio, Benin, Ebira, Ijaw, Ogoni and others who occupy various towns with their land boundaries in Nigeria. If a person who is a native of a particular Igbo town lives and works in a Yoruba town, the person is not in his ethnic community, but in a domestic residential community, where he is a national member by virtue of the national alliance between their communities. With their continued interaction for the harmonious growth and several intermarriages, the distinctions between the various communities in a country become less significant.

But on the other hand, if the person from a Yoruba town in Nigeria is living and working or even naturalized as citizen in another country like America, Australia, Canada, Russia, Spain or Egypt, he will be said to be living in a foreign residential community. So, a foreign residential community is a community outside one’s ethnic community that does not share a long-term political or national affiliation with one’s own ethnic community. There, people are mainly related to each other as friends, neighbours, compatriots and other official connections. So, the prevalent way of life within a country as an alliance between several ethnic communities can be called national culture.

• The instrumental or tertiary communities comprises of the professional community, religious community and ideological community. They are not real physical communities like the other two communities, because they are not domiciled to any geographical territory, nor do they have any land boundaries.

 The professional community is the alliance between people who share any common profession. It is a grouping that broadly distinguishes and unites people according to their professions, like various unions of doctors, of teachers, of students, of engineers, of actors, of architects, of writers, of farmers, of fashionistas and all other professions. This professional community is formed from people’s economic interests, and is not distinguishable, defined or limited to any specific race, ethnicity or physical location. The professional community connects people to colleagues and other professionals in a similar field, even in distant locations, in order to enable them to collaborate for the advancement of their professional field. So, they are organized to inspire progress in the field using various incentives and rewards. And the prevalent way of life within different professions can be called professional culture or work culture.

 The religious community is a distinction of people according to their specific faith and religious denominations, and is not automatically distinguishable, defined or based on a race, ethnicity, gender or physical location. In the modern times, most religious communities grow through preaching and conversion to a religious belief using any medium, and so, it connects people spiritually by their belief in a common deity or its ways of worship. Religious communities are organized to inspire devotions to specific deities and to influence people’s ways of life according to the religious doctrines. So, the prevalent way of life within different religions can be called religious cultures and traditions.

 The ideological community is a broad distinction of people according to their common ideas, beliefs and values about generalizable or universal social, economic or cultural practices in the world. They include cover groups like feminism, liberalism, Marxism, communism, socialism, capitalism, LGBTQ and other ideas that distinguish and unite people in the advocacy for general changes in various ethnic communities, residential communities or national policies, cultural beliefs, values or lifestyle. Like professional community, the ideological community rises from various people’s desire for change in a political or economic structure or belief, and is not automatically distinguishable, defined or limited to any race or ethnicity. So, people can identify with, or advocate to switch to or from any ideology they want and at any time. The different ideologies in this level of community spread by converting, training and supporting advocates of a particular ideology in and from different parts of the world. Ideological communities are easily portrayed as rational platforms for participating in the course of universal progress, since no community or nation can fully provide everything it needs for their people to satisfy their animal, social and rational needs. And the prevalent way of life that people follow based on ideologies is broadly to as ‘society’ (Western society, Eastern society, medieval society, modern society, African society, etc.), which loosely refers to an unspecified population, community, tribe or nation, swinging between ideologies. It is at this level of community that ideas are injected, transmitted or even imposed to modify, change or sustain intercommunal and international relations and socio-political reorganizations across personal, communal, racial, tribal national and continental borders both for the rational aim of universal progress and the irrational aim of using rational ability or logic to focus on the animal and social needs of food, shelter, sex and social status.

Though membership to these communities overlap at different times in a person’s life, they do not have the same level of influence in people’s lives. The ethnic and residential community are the only real communities as they physically connect people to a particular environment. On the other hand, the professional community, religious community and ideological community are only instrumental communities which people use as tools to adjust or extend their ways of life within and beyond their real communities; and instrumental communities depend on the ethnic and residential communities for their existence and sustenance. Hence, without proper permission from the ethnic and residential communities, membership to any of the instrumental communities cannot guarantee one’s passage into either an ethnic or residential community. These stages of community have different sources and forms of influence in people. So, in their order of affection, the ethnic community is the basic, factual and fixed community because it genetically or ancestrally connects people to other people in a society, and despite the migrations and intercommunal evolutions within tribes, clans and ethnicities, the ethnic community remains the primary basis of cultural identity and destiny in the life of an individual. The residential community comes second as it connects people to others within a real or physical location, where they can collaborate with physical neighbours. Though it is a more recent phenomenon than the ethnic and residential communities, the professional community comes third since it connects people to methods of working with human and natural resources for people to respond to their basic needs despite their location. The religious community comes fourth as it connects people as individuals to supernatural beliefs to satisfy their need of interpreting and participating in the course of universal progress by relating with supernatural beings from their different locations. Finally, the ideological community comes fifth as it connects people to generalized ideas in order to satisfy their rational need of participating in the course of universal progress through advocacy for collective changes in social organization and lifestyle.

Confusing the level of influence from these different stages of community leads to various degrees of misunderstanding, violence, unproductivity and crises in various societies, especially underdeveloped parts of the world, where various ethnic communities were colonially joined together without consent or proper evolution. These kingdoms and communities were colonially merged so that postcolonial officers can hold the communities for foreigners to extract their mineral resources in exchange for foreign finished goods. This is why some politicians embrace cultural neutrality and urge individuals to suppress their loyalty to their ethnic communities in order to embrace loyalty to the unconsented national identities and ideologies. They preach this cultural neutrality as a way to human refinement for common humanity. This in turn neutralizes the sense of responsibility which people should have for developing their various ethnic communities by educating and enabling their relatives to be productive and socially responsible.
Hence, for people to experience progress, especially in the underdeveloped societies, they must be able to use their resources to produce and trade goods and services both locally and globally. This production can only begin at the communal level when people retrieve access to their lands and resources in order to educate and motivate their people to create and trade goods and services. When various ethnic communities retrieve their resources, educate their people and engage them in industrial productivity, the various communities can then compete on their quality of their products and social responsibility instead of competing on the amount of foreign products they can get and share from the colonial system of resource-exploitation.

So, our communal, ethnic or cultural differences must not be denied, distorted or blurred in the name of political correctness and superficial common nationality or humanity. Instead, it must be acknowledged, refined and integrated as the deepest source of individuation, variety, emotional strength, social passion, social identity and life’s ultimate purpose: the purpose of contributing to humanity’s progress by redeeming our specific communities and cultures from oblivion, unproductivity, irresponsibility or irrelevance. Not just absconding to attach ourselves to other people’s growth with the justification of being detribalized and under the illusion of global progress whenever our particular community is down, underdeveloped, unproductive or irresponsible.”

Acknowledging people’s ethnic community as the primary community and integrating other levels of community (residential, professional, religious and ideological) in building their various ethnic communities is not hate speech, racism, tribalism, bigotry, supremacy, demonism or evil. It only becomes evil when people dominate, exploit and prevent other groups from developing their systems of growth in order to directly or indirectly benefit from their pain, loss, death or misery, or when a people refuse to support other ethnic communities to grow and compete in the eternal league of human development.