There's a guy in my web design class who's African. I was describing him to a friend and talking about how he couldn't understand how art would work on the internet. He couldn't understand how art might be made of things other than paint and canvas, how art might be 'net-specific' (existing only on and for the world wide web).

I believe he could be described as conservative.

The thing is, I saw his conservatism as part of his African upbringing. He is African therefore he is conservative. It's funny, because I didn't even reflect on this assumption until I was watching a show on TV, called 'Going Native'. It's one of those fly-on-the-wall real life documentaries about a family from england who has gone to live in a village homestead in Swaziland, Africa. The whole show is about the tensions of one culture clashing with another. Interestingly the tensions seem to be mostly around what we would call Rights - not about things like running water and electricity. Anyway, the show seemed to highlight how old fashioned and conservative Africa is - women in their place, workers in their place, corporal punishment, a lot of emphasis on authority and unquestioning respect for old, perhaps outmoded, ways - ideas that most of us here consider either belonging to the 1950s or the Victorian era. The TV program didn't seem to highlight the fact that the family were living in one particular homestead in one particular country in Africa, but seemed to be making a generalised point about 'African values'.

I suddenly realised where my assumptions about ALL AFRICA came from. Here they were paraded on TV as self evident truths because they had been edited that way for the program. Suddenly I understood my fellow web design student as conservative in the way my father is. My dad would share his exact views on art.

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