“Who said it was raining?” This question, simple on the surface, touches on the very core of our global dialogue. It raises issues of perspective, communication, and understanding intrinsic to the concept of civilization.
Evoking the timeless journalistic axiom, “When someone tells you it is raining, and another tells you it is not, you should not report both sides but look outside and see for yourself”. In essence, China’s Global Civilization Initiative, hereafter called GCI, encourages us to do just that – to explore and understand the dynamics and nuances of disparate cultures. It invites us to recognize that civilizations do not need to clash but rather have the potential to engage, grow and transform through shared learning and dialogue.
The Heart of the Matter
The Global Civilization Initiative is neither a doctrine nor an imperial decree. It is not an imposition of ideology. It’s a map seeking to plot a course toward mutual respect and coexistence. At its heart, it is an approach, an acknowledgment of the interdependent world we live in.
The message is clearer when you take a deeper look. It advances a profound respect for diversity and a commitment to intercultural dialogue. It begs us to reconsider our established notions. Instead of clashing, could civilizations not complement and learn from each other? It champions the view that no civilization is superior or inferior; they’re just different, with their unique values and traditions.
The compass points to global unity. With a philosophy grounded in respect, empathy, and equality, it carries the potential to foster peaceful coexistence and shared prosperity. Put simply, it is a collaborative venture initiated by China to promote mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation among different civilizations.
The African Pulse in the Matter
Picture Africa, a continent ardently striving to uphold its core values amidst an array of global pressures. Within this intricate tapestry of dynamic change, the GCI emerges as a breath of fresh air, providing a voice that respects Africa’s autonomy in shaping its norms and values. This understanding strikes a chord with us. Acceptance of diversity doesn’t oblige us to adopt all cultural practices but compels us to acknowledge and respect them.
Perhaps, a simple illustration relates to Ghana’s recent legislation on LGBT+ practices. A bill that sparked waves of criticism from various Western nations. They have viewed Ghana’s legislation through the lens of their own cultural norms, which largely support LGBT+ rights, tagging the bill as a violation of human rights. But remember the wisdom in the saying, ‘One does not help a leopard change its spots.’ Deep-seated values, much like a leopard’s spots, cannot – and perhaps should not – be altered. To wit: it’s not the role of external powers to ‘change the spots’ or modify the fundamental characteristics of another civilization.
These principles are the heartbeat of the GCI. Instead of pushing for a uniform set of ‘global’ norms, it advocates for the autonomy of each civilization to shape its laws, influenced by its cultural milieu, history, and values. And that, my dear reader, is why the GCI should resonate with us as Africans.
The Harmonious Call
As we stand at the crossroads of global integration and cultural preservation, it’s crucial to remember that our societies are not static entities but dynamic and ever-evolving tapestries of beliefs, traditions, and values.
It’s time to lend an ear to the symphony of mutual respect and understanding. We need to recognize that in embracing China’s Global Civilization Initiative, we are doing more than giving the nod to an initiative; we are accepting a policy that resonates harmoniously with our very essence as Africans.
Indeed, “the chameleon changes color to match the earth; the earth doesn’t change colors to match the chameleon.” This is not just an age-old African proverb articulating the strength and stability of our culture as a sturdy foundation.
It also encapsulates a compelling melody of China’s Global Civilization Initiative- an invitation for cooperation among nations through acknowledgment and respect for disparate cultures. It is an invitation to an ensemble of civilizations, each playing its special note, contributing to the harmonious symphony of global understanding.
Written by: Dr. Isaac Ankrah, Senior Research Fellow, ACCPA