Kenya: Real life is not a movie

Film and television, capable of turning all but the most critical viewers into couch potatoes, are undermining the hold of indigenous culture on African youth, bombarding them with a host of foreign values. A Global Economy and Cultures (GEC) research group at Hekima College, the Jesuit School of Theology in Nairobi, has collaborated with over 50 Jesuit Social Centres in a world-wide project to assess the effects of the global economy on local cultures, more especially the poor within them, and to determine general ethical guidelines. Are there alternative sources of entertainment? Does the excessive interest of young people in pornography suggest that sex education rather than moralising is required? How can the emerging global culture be creatively used for the benefit of the local people? These are some of the concerns underlying a recent study on youth in Nairobi. Based on data from relevant groups, it aims at raising critical awareness among the young of the ambivalent effects of global media and passive consumption. It calls for a real African involvement in monitoring what is viewed, and an airing of foreign programmes with positive cultural values, as well as films highlighting the African values of solidarity, generosity, hospitality, and respect for life. Merely bemoaning the loss of moral and cultural values will achieve nothing. ?Before one can attack global media for eroding African culture,? affirm the authors, ?it is important also to ask what African governments, educational institutions, cultural centres, religious organisations and the leisure industry are doing to position African cultural products in the global village.? [HL30601]