Raising people’s awareness of their ‘ right to be different’ in an African context might not work that well, argue Drani et.al. Although the concept of the family is changing and individual choice and aspirations are increasingly being negotiated, ‘ modern life’ is not necessarily being regarded as progress. Globalisation and individualisation are often mentioned in conjunction with the trend of (urban) parents spending more time on their careers, education and work-related relationships than with their children. This may contribute towards more dysfunctional families and challenges as regards the ‘ moral grooming’ of a child, the paper says.
While globalisation exposes people to diversity, the ‘new’ thing people observe is the power of money – often at the detriment of solidarity and care for the other. It makes people look at the extended family in terms of economic costs and benefits and at the same time provides a different reference frame regarding identity. What is trendy is gaining importance, communicated - but not necessarily critically reflected - by corporate brands and mass media. While uncensored exposure to information, knowledge and diverging experience provides opportunities for individuals to construct their own identity, it also leaves young people with little guidance as to how to deal with conflicting norms and principles. It has led to ‘a survival of the fittest’ attitude, and a desire for quick financial gains at any cost, often referred to as the ‘ boda boda culture’ according to the authors. Changing relations between women and men, meaning both changing power relations within the family through the empowerment of women, but also looser sexual relationships, have not necessarily contributed to healthy patterns of ‘living together’. Men are said to behave less responsible, in terms of not engaging in work and family duties, alcoholism, domestic violence and promiscuity – leaving children to their own devices and open to mistreatment. It is this unbridled freedom for the individual which is seen as the downside of a value frame that has that same individual at its centre, rather than what is regarded as normative within the community.