“We are all slaves of a socio-economic model that is broken. The African man is in a disadvantaged position merely because he embraces a broken model that is not even his and is designed to keep him down.” Mark Abouzeid
Mark Abouzeid has created a visual metaphor for the African man and the continent itself…strong, intelligent, serene…everything necessary to be successful except for the ropes of cultural bondage imposed by a western system.
What started as a provocation has become so much more. Since photographing Alex and presenting this work, I have begun to meet African artists and artisans that are successful despite working in their own way for their based on very different values: interpreting their environment and culture through mainstream art styles; creating successful businesses founded on artisan cooperatives; and giving back to the community in the form of clean drinking water. (Mark Abouzeid 2014)
“The bulk of the world’s current problems stem from a detachment from traditional cultures.” UNESCO 2009
“His abortive effort at education and culture, though leaving him totally unredeemed and unregenerate, had nonetheless done something to him-it had deprived him of his links with his own people whom he no longer understood and who certainly wanted none of his dissatisfaction or pretension.” Chinua Achebe
A man’s alienation means his dehumanisation, his estrangement from his own community, society and eventually from his own self. In the words of Sidney Finkelstein alienation is “a psychology felt toward something seemingly outside oneself which is linked to oneself, a barrier erected which is actually no defence but an impoverishment of oneself”.
Add to this, the generational gaps from massive societal changes that have occurred due to global economics, regional conflicts and refugee crises; and the unwholesome consequences of this for cultural and individual identity are too severe and profound to leave unresolved.
How africa could save europe
Africa maintains the broadest, diverse Climate Change experiments, to date. Decades of generational adaptation in crops, diet and lifestyle make it invaluable to developed countries who have not yet had to adapt. Still, the west focuses on teaching Africa rather than learning from it.
“As the world gets hotter and rainfall more erratic, the types and availability of ingredients for daily meals are changing. For some countries these changes are more dramatic as climate change has already forced communities to adapt their crops, social roles and diet. However, there is another story to tell: one of resilience and adaptation.” CCAF
Climate change is here and the question we should be asking is how to adapt our individual cultural lifestyle to guarantee food sustainability and security. Adapting to climate change should be a collective effort that involves, foremost, citizens who can make small but meaningful decisions in how they cook and what they eat every day.
What we eat has a direct impact not only on our health, but also on the well-being and prosperity of our communities and our planet. In this complex landscape, adapting our diet and cuisine can contribute to bringing about real and very positive change.
In this latest video, Abouzeid introduces two Africans bridging the gap between Western economics and African culture/values.