“Ours is a giving culture” said an acquaintance of mine (who is certainly more of a taker than a giver). This person was comparing Nigerian to British culture and I wasn’t really prepared to split hairs about the thinking behind the statement. On reflection now, I can see that the issue of being generous or not ought to be considered in the context of what happens to large groups needy people in either of these cultures.
On a person to person level, it could appear on the surface like there is more warmth amongst Africans than there is in European cultures, but there are signs on a broader level that there isn’t enough strategic thinking and effective action from African ruling elite classes to address the state or nation’s role in looking after the needy people in their communities.
Perhaps this lack of commitment or interest can be attributed to each nation’s limited funds and resources in Africa, but there also seems to be an underlying unwillingness to reflect about issues such as “quality of life” for those who are marginalised, due to one form of neediness or another.
For example, it is regarded as cruel practice by some Africans to send aged relatives to live in care homes, but if there are state provisions to make sure there are people employed to look after the needs of elderly people who would otherwise be lonely or not treated very well by relatives, why isn’t this way of doing things regarded as altruistic?
In any case, our priorities lie in different areas. I know which model I personally prefer.