Life Is Rythm: In Uganda, Rwanda, Or The U.S.

There Is No Movement Without Rhythm

Life has a rhythm, it's constantly moving.

Modernity has removed us from nature. Most of us move ideas, not our bodies, across networks, not across fields, under artificial lighting, not sunlight, and produce intangible products in isolation rather than unison.

We travel from one box to another box by way of a small box without being in the day's weather, or looking at the sky, or perhaps into the eye of another human being.

Where is this rhythm moving us?

Capitalism threatens the livelihood of those across the globe who still move crops or music with their bodies, under the sun, in the company of family and friends, who produce song and food outdoors in weather, looking at the skies.

Where is this rhythm moving them?

The introduction of modern systems, be it formal education, high yield agricultural methods, or life sustaining health care has a disruptive effect on the life rhythm which has been maintained for generations by many people.

I have just returned from Rwanda and Uganda profoundly struck by what is at stake when young people are provided formal education. Young people are pulled off the land to pursue higher education with the promise of a better future.

Better, defined by whom and in what terms?

Western influence is removing the youth in developing countries from their cultural education where skill passed from generation to generation is at risk of extinction.

Will these young people know how to grow food, tend and slaughter animals, weave baskets, sing the songs and dance the dances their parents and grandparents sang and danced?

Will formal education rob them of cultural education?

What will happen when they pursue employment in their field of study? Many will leave the country in pursuit of positions not offered at home, a few will return to the land, while many will fall between the cracks of two worlds into a growing chasm of educated, unemployed, frustrated youth who can't go back but can't go forward.

Formal education replaced my cultural education.

I do not know how to harvest reeds from marshes to weave flooring, roofs and baskets.
I do not know how to raise and slaughter animals.
I do not know the songs and dances of my ancestors.
I do not know how to grow my food.

I have an advanced degree.
I would now like to be educated.
I will learn to grow food.

Photo by Debra Ellis
Photo by Debra Ellis

My country is extracting culture

Formal education is always followed by higher rates of consumption. The West provides education, often in association with religion. It extracts natural resources, indigenous language, religion and life sustaining rhythm, while inserting Western influence and infrastructure.

Next, the "newly educated" are invited to step into the dog chasing tail cycle of consumption, sealing the deal with a newly opened market.

Onward marches capitalism and consumerism
and temperatures rise…