Friday, December 6, 2019

Rural or Urban Africans: Who Is Better Off

The modern Africa cities are growing more rapidly than the overall birthrate due to millions of rural Africans moving to urban centers each year. Are these new urban residents going to be better off? No one is guaranteed that life will improve with the move to the city. What is guaranteed is life will change.

Life in rural areas is very family centered. By family here I mean extended family: mother, father, grandparents, aunt and uncles, plus all the kids. In an African rural setting normally all of these live in the same village. Even neighbor families who are not related are very intertwined in the community, because they have lived near each other for generations. Children are watched after and cared for by everyone around. They are each known by name. Families have similar expectations for their children. These families and neighbors help each other in the in planting, weeding, and harvesting their crops. They also cooperate in community projects.

For families to feel comfortable in an urban setting some one needs to be employed. For that reason, not many whole, extended families live close to each other in urban settings. In the city individual families tend to be the sole care givers and guardians of their children and they attend to their own family's needs. Rural people consider their urban, family members to be better off financially and periodically request help from them. At times extended family members living in rural areas will come to live with their urban kin in an attempt to finds a job or attend a quality school. What rural family members do not realize is that even though the urban side of the family is employed and has income, they also have expenses that villagers do not have to come up with on a regular basis. They must pay rent or pay off a mortgage on a home. They have to buy all of their food. Basically, everything they eat or drink, even the place they lay their heads down for rest, cost them money. Who is better off? Urban or rural residence?

That is difficult to say. Life is tough in the villages. Good harvests depend on a lot of factors over which villagers have little control. A poor rainy season can bring hunger for months. Even when the rains are ample, it takes a lot of intensive labor in the sun to fill the food storage binds. On the other hand, the poorest of the poor in Africa reside in the cities. The slum dwellers and street people continue to grow years after year. In some African cities slum dweller make up close to one fourth of the population. Security is a major issue in the cities as well. Due to unemployment and lack of discipline there is increased crime in the city, forcing each urbanite to be vigilant.

It used to be a fact that urban Africans regarded the villages as their homes and the seat of their spiritual and family roots. That is changing rapidly. Urban Africans have easier access to the the Internet at or high speed connections in their homes. A review of African forums on the Internet will show that modern, urban, African culture has many similarities to urban culture anywhere in the world. In fact the change is even effecting African culture in fundamental realms like marriage. Members of one such forum recently asked the question, " Can solar panels be in dowries? "

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