4 - African Pop Cultures: In Tuxedo, Starched White Shirt and Bow Tie
Africa Review of Books,
Vol. 6 No. 2 (2010): Africa Review of Books, Volume 6, n° 2, 2010
Toyin Falola’s work has touched upon virtually all areas of African scholarship. The volume under review, Africans and the Politics of Popular Cultures, edited with Augustine Agwuele, has many interesting aspects. The introduction does more than it is normally supposed to in the sense that the editors tackle several of the conceptual issues associated with defining what culture
really is and the different manifestations it can assume. Accordingly, we are informed that ‘culture can be seen as the shared patterns of habitual behaviours, responses, and ideas that people acquire as members of a society. Each generation passes on to the next its tested ways of being and of doing things in the world’ (p. 1). In passing cultural values and mores from one
generation on the next, the question of documentation and the preservation of knowledge and collective memory come into focus. Falola and Agwuele continually stress that the phenomenon of culture has many intangible dimensions and attributes even as there are also palpable elements such as knowledge, art, morals, and sociopolitical institutions. As such, scholars have
defined culture in a multiplicity of ways, some stressing the importance of the more tangible aspects of culture and others emphasising its more abstract features. Recently, culture has been perceived as an integrated system covering political, economic and scientific aspects of contemporary human existence; consequently, a development in, for instance, the political field has profound reverberations in the entirety of society...