Cultural evergreens

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I was recently involved in some commemorative events that drew attention to the process of adapting to the demands of multiculturalism in the UK. Many people attended the events and contributed constructive thoughts, feelings and ideas. Needless to say, there was hardly any open discussion about cultural difference in these happenings. The issue of whether or not this is a good thing is debatable. It was noticed at one event that there were few people present of African or Caribbean descent.

Perhaps this last observation is a good example of the way that issues of subcultures dovetail into the overall energy of multicultural group dynamics. Some cultural practices or habits are not universal, such as the use of platforms such as Eventbrite to book tickets to attend events. Another factor is the way that particular subcultures view issues pertaining to posterity.  The Blues could be described as the major contribution of folks of Black American heritage to the global music culture. When I saw and heard BB King in concert, there were very few Black people in the audience, and BB King did collaborate with acts such as The Crusaders, who could be described as being on the “Black side of the scene”.

As a result of the fact that folks from African derived cultures seem to be less preoccupied with posterity than those from other backgrounds, situations emerge where cultural practices that originated in Black communities end up being championed by artists from other backgrounds. In some cases, the Black people complain about “cultural appropriation”. If an artist such as Solomon Linda – the South African singer-songwriter, did not receive royalties in his life time for creating “Wimoweh”, then perhaps there is a good reason for such complaints.

Is it a good or bad thing that folks from other cultures appreciate the beauty in the creativity of African descendants? In one public event, I played a CD of classic highlife that featured songs by masters of the genre such as ET Mensah. In no time at all, I was urged to play something more contemporary by the younger Black people present.

Trends come and go, but there are some cultural products that have timeless value. Is it possible to combine the wish to keep up with fashion with acknowledgment of the great things we have that stand outside of time?