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Lily Kalombo

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What's good for the gander is not necessarily good for the goose...

What's allowed and accepted in one culture is taboo in another

Have you ever had a crush on your cousin? Have you ever thought what if I dated him? What would people say? Well, in some countries and cultures they don't even need to stop and think about that. They can simply get married to their cousins and live happily ever after; with their parents by their side smiling joyfully in full agreement.

While you on the other hand, you're keeping this secret crush in your head where no one can see, but others are having a family with their cousins. Interesting huh?

In some countries, like some parts of China, some parts of Africa and mostly the Middle East, it is normal and accepted to marry in your family; that being your cousin.... third, second and even your first cousin! The meaning behind marrying in their family is a form of securing relationships between tribes and preserving family wealth. But sometimes things don't go as well as thought to be.... (Read Noor's story about her first-cousin marriage)

Just like in those countries it is normal to marry your cousin but in other countries it's not, in our society, there are some things we do that is absolutely not accepted in theirs. In the world we live in today, where everyone can do anything they want and is entitled to their own opinions, it's not such a big deal to move in with your boyfriend or girlfriend. It's done all the time right? Right.

Yeah, but go to India, China or Africa and you will be given odd looks. In these countries, and other places that still practice strong culture and do not have western world influence, they absolutely do not accept living together before marriage. For them, things are done the old fashioned way, which is –according to them- the best. If he did not put a ring on it, living together is taboo! This also means sleeping together; it is a huge, red flashing light. Not accepted.

But of course you get those few naughty rebels who break the rules now and then and sneak out of the house through the window....with a rope.

In our society, no ropes needed! Girls simply walk out of the front door and yell out at their mother "I'll be at John's place for the night. See you tomorrow!" Mom might not even turn to look back; she will simply nod or maybe even offer some cookies to bring over.

What!? Nod? Cookies?

Back home, in Africa, where I come from, first you wouldn't even try and if you did you would be beaten over and over again, to get that "demon" out, or be brought to the pastor to be prayed for. Good luck with that buddy...

Another thing that is not really accepted in those countries is divorce. Once you have tied the knot, it is forever. No excuses, no one cares if he leaves his socks around or if she never shuts up during an argument, ok maybe you care, but deal with it. Just do not get divorced. That ring is forever honey, that is why you said 'until death do us part' not until divorce do us part. And that is their attitude when it comes to divorce.

This is a big one for North America as this seems to be something that is quite in fashion these days. Let's look at our celebrities -which is probably not a great idea- like Kim Kardashian's wedding which lasted 72 days or Britney Spear's wedding that lasted 55 days.

Another thing that I find quite interesting is homosexuality....it has become something that is more and more welcomed in our nation today. And when the President of the United States, Obama, comes out and makes a speech of accepting LGBT people, that is when you know it really is welcomed.

In our western world it is now encouraged to 'come out of the closet' and admit your attraction to your own gender. It is said to be that there be no discrimination against LGBT people and that they be treated equally like all other people.

In Africa....say what? Don't you even dare try to think of liking the same sex. You will probably be beaten all over again and yes, be brought to church to be prayed for to cast out that bad spirit. In countries like Iraq, people are killed because they are gay, or were perceived to be. Homosexuality is almost forbidden in these countries.

I remember when I was an 11 year old, back in South Africa; I was out shopping with my mom and sister. We were walking outside on the street and heard noises coming around the corner. It was a very tall man dressed in a mini-skirt, with a tight ladies top and heels. I don't know where he dropped from but he certainly did drop in the wrong place. Maybe if he dropped in America or Canada he would have been safe, but there, he wasn't. There was a group of kids around the age of 13 running around him, throwing sticks and stones at him and pulling down his skirt. Bystanders laughed, shook their heads or just stared in disbelief. I did not know what to think, I was small and confused. What happened to him after? I don't want to know. Hopefully he's still alive....

Now, after living in Canada for 3 years, I remember recently thinking... it's funny how back in Africa if I saw a gay person I would literally walk on the other side of the road just in case he passes on his bad spirit. But now, in Canada....walk where? There I am laughing and eating lunch with them, not necessarily because I believe in it but because it is something that is accepted and respected here.

It's interesting...one world, but many very different lifestyles. Just because you think what you doing is fine and you accept it, it really doesn't mean everyone else thinks its ok. Let us be more open-minded to the differences of culture around us.

What's good for the gander is not necessarily good for the goose.

Lily Kalombo

Respect towards parents and elders in different cultures

I have lived with many races all throughout my life, due to moving around a lot. I found it quite interesting to witness how youngsters treat their elders across cultures. There is a vast difference of how younger people respond and act when it comes to dealing with their parents and people who are older than them. The difference lies between places like Canada, America, and parts of Europe that are influenced by American culture and places like Africa, Asia and Middle East.

According to my experience being around different people, I have found that in the places that are influenced by American culture, people tend to be more on an equal level with their parents or their elders, especially when they hit the age of independence. The way they greet their elder, how they talk to them, their conversations and the way they act with them is quite different from people in Africa, Asia and Middle East.

In these places, elders and youngsters, parents and children are on totally different levels. The elders demand more respect from their young ones. They have more of the attitude of 'what I say, is what you do. My advice is right, I am correct and you should listen to what I say because I am older therefore I am wiser.'

The way they teach the young is to listen and obey. Not too many questions must be asked and if you don't listen or do something crazy that is opposite to their teachings, then you are sure to be punished and disciplined. Their children also feel more obliged to listen to them because they are more dependent on their parents. Parents in these countries have a culture where they pay for everything for their children. From food, to clothes, to education -even University (ouch) – to a new laptop, to unnecessary wants like Nike sneakers. They are not really encouraged to find a job because it will 'disrupt their studies' and result in lower marks. Because of this, they tend to obey their parents more because they need their parents to survive and get things. Therefore giving them more respect.

While In North America, and in places that are influenced by their culture, children are taught on a more relaxed note. They are encouraged to express their opinions and talk back, which leads them to asking many questions and sometimes even questioning their parent's teachings. When they grow older, they are encouraged to find a job to pay their own wants and sometimes their own university fees. This leads to children being more independent and on more equal terms with their parents. Because they have money in their pockets, they can simply say "Bye Mom and Dad, I'm moving out and going to find my own place." This is normal and even encouraged amongst Americans, Canadians and some Europeans.

They don't really need to entirely listen to what their parents have to say because they can live their own life now, they have their own money and can go out on their own. Thus, this leads them to being on a more equal level with their parents/elders. This results with them acting and speaking towards their parents in ways we (Africans, Chinese, and Middle Eastern etc.) would never be able to.

For example, I would come back home very tired from a Netball tournament and once I open the doors my mom would say Hi! and then a few minutes later...."Honey, the dishes are waiting for you"

So I just came back from running around the whole day and just want to crash on my bed and you asking me to do dishes? The thing is I can't get away with saying no! With African parents, you never say no. Who are you to say no to me, when I carried you in my belly for 9 months and wiped your feces and feed you and pay for your school fees etc? Plus washing dishes will only take 10 minutes, how hard is that?

But when I moved to Newfoundland, Canada, I was shocked to hear children saying no to their parents. What shocked me the most was small children of the age of 4 or 5 absolutely refusing to do what their parents asked. What shocked me more was some parents just stood back and let it go. Back home in Africa, I would probably be hit on my hand with a stick, have my ear twisted or have my head knocked with my mother's knuckle.

And no, it's not abuse, at least that's what we think and believe in Africa. We believe it to be discipline. Personally, after staying in Africa for 17 years and now living in Canada for 3 years and seeing that hitting your child out of discipline is not really popular and seeing the outcome of that, I am happy my mother hit me when I disobeyed. It taught me obedience.

But then again, cultures differ. That's how we see it back home and that's how they see it here. Places have different societies, different cultures and different views. The way I view it is, there is a bit of right in every opinion in this case, because you always get the extremists on one hand who abuse their children or the extremists on the other hand who are afraid of disciplining their children. In the end, I think having a good balance between the two is the best way.

Watch my video below; I interviewed my friends from different countries about interaction and communication with their parents and elders. The 4 interviewees are from Zimbabwe in Africa, Malaysia in Asia, Qatar in the Middle East and Newfoundland in Canada. I asked each of them the same questions; take note of the differences in their answer and how respect towards parents and elders differ. Enjoy!

Welcome to the African cuisine!

Fufu is a staple food that many people eat in Africa. In some countries, fufu is the main meal. Where I was born and where my parents grew up, in the Congo, many people eat this dish for breakfast, lunch and supper. In different countries, it is called different names. For example, in Congo and in Nigeria it is called fufu. In Zimbabwe it's called "sadza" and in South Africa it's called "pap" by the white Africans.

It is a meal that is simply made of cornmeal and water. Fufu is eaten by taking a small ball of it in one's fingers and then dipping it into an accompanying soup or sauce. Eating it by itself is not an enjoyable experience, but with a good delicious sauce on the side, you good to go!

Here is a recipe below of how to make fufu so that you can try this at home and proudly say "I have eaten fufu!"

Try it! You might just fall in love.

(I have also made a video where I show you how to cook it, and maybe you learn better visually, so go and check out the video below. Funny features included)

Recipe: Serves 2

Ingredients

4 cups of water; 340ml Cornmeal; Pinch of oil

Method

Put heated water in the pot. Put 40ml of cornmeal in the water and stir until totally dissolved. Leave it to boil for 10-15 minutes. Once boiled, add the rest of cornmeal in and stir very well so lumps do not form. Take a round bowl and add a pinch of oil all around (oil is so that fufu doesn't stick to bowl) Scoop the fufu in the bowl and shake it till it takes the shape of the bowl. Put the rounded fufu on your plate and eat it with a sauce of your choice!

ENJOY!

 

Video Posts

African stereotypes

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxh48Cheoxc (part one)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCPRad6la3Q (part two)

Respect towards parents and elders

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btVhKLZmD70 (part one)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-QJfyTRKwJI (part two)

Food blog- Welcome to the African cuisine

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5SaFBi-VHA

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