It is indeed true that cultural and technological advancements have had tremendous effect on the way people have been communicated, particularly in the reduction of the distance between nations and communities. During the fifteenth century, distance was a major factor that hindered communication between people. The situation became worse when involved parties were separated by large bodies of water such as lakes and oceans or inhabitable lands. People secluded in their own regions by geographical barriers could not intermingle with others. Therefore, they developed their own diverse cultures. However, the situation eventually changed as new technological innovations were developed that enhanced communication. This article will address the influence of cultural and technological developments on integration between people from distant regions.
For the effective communication, the information from the sender has to reach the receiver without distortion. Distortion of information can occur because of various factors, including distance. For instance, during the 15th century, people used primitive methods of communication, which depended on the distance between the sending and receiving parties. Early methods of communication, such as use of smoke, depended on weather conditions and proximity of the two areas among other factors. Ships were already in use during the 15th century, which allowed early explorers, such as Christopher Columbus, to carry out their voyages.
The discovery of the telegraph in the 19th century was a great milestone in the world of communication. It allowed effective communication between distant ships by sending information in the form of Morse code. Later on, other methods of communication, such as telephone, as well as radio and television, were invented, which allowed broadcasting information to a large number of people at once. Distance was no longer a hindrance to communication. Intercultural relations were enhanced as people could freely interact with others from different cultures.
During the early times of trade, there was no agreed mode of currency for exchange of goods and services. Therefore, barter trade was most dominant. The other side of such relationships was that the involved in trade communities used to learn cultural practices from each other. They were also giving out gifts to each other after having established a mutual understanding between them. It was a common phenomenon to find artifacts belonging to a certain community given as presents to people at different continents.
They also extended their cultural practices and religion to other cultures. For example, in most of the areas that Europeans visited, they spread Christianity; hence, a large number of Christians lives in Africa. Besides, Africans assimilated the cultures of their colonizers. For instance, countries that were colonized by England assimilated British ways of life, including their language. The same thing happened to other regions that were colonized by France and other European powers of that time. This occurred because these cultures had interacted in one way or another.
As time progressed, these early methods of communication were improved, and more innovative modern methods were invented. Before the end of the twentieth century, Internet was discovered, creating another great milestone in communication. These discoveries meant that not a single culture was enclosed anymore since cultural barriers were broken. Information and ideas were given an opportunity to flow easily from one person to another. Trading across the world was no longer a challenge because through the enhanced communication, traders from different countries could exchange information and ideas on how to better their activities.
It is worth noting that technological developments allowed European explorers to discover Africa, Asia, and both Americas. When they discovered that these areas were habitable and resourceful, they settled and eventually colonized these regions. Nevertheless, wherever Europeans set up their colonies, the aborigines did not welcome them. The locals felt that the Europeans had infringed upon their rights by settling in their lands without their consent. In most cases, they forcefully acquired lands for settlement and development through extensive farming.
As already noted above, inter-cultural interactions had their merits and demerits. For instance, when Europeans discovered the resourcefulness of the African land, they realized that the area had great potential in generating raw materials for their industries. This was a period of the industrial age and, therefore, Africa, Asia, and Americas were highly preferred by the Europeans for two main reasons among others. First of all, the newly explored regions had extensive fertile lands that were unused. These huge areas provided ready resources for exploitation; whereby, cash crops could be cultivated and exported to factories and industries back in Europe. These regions were also rich in minerals such as gold, diamonds, and copper among others, which guaranteed wellness and strengthening of the countries’ ruled monarchies. Secondly, the Europeans realized the Africans and Asians would provide the highly needed and cheap labor for their industries. As a result, slaves were forced to work at the plantations and industries that belonged to Europeans (Sparks, 2004).
Slaves went through ordeals while under the control of Europeans. They were mistreated, poorly fed, and their living conditions had nothing to be desired. They were also overworked and died while working in the fields or in the industries after they succumbed to illnesses due to mistreatment and hunger. Husbands used to watch helplessly as their beautiful wives were raped by their masters. The Europeans considered themselves to be superior to other cultures (Sparks, 2004).
For instance, as Randy Sparks (2004) points out in his book, the 1767 massacre in Calabar was a very inhumane act, which was instigated by Englishmen and slavers against the locals of Old Calabar. The author points out clearly that they used to do such acts thinking they will not be noted. The town of Old Calabar was a main slave-trading center in the west-African coastal region. These slaves were forcefully taken away from their families and made to work at plantations and factories belonging to the Europeans (Sparks, 2004).
During the period of colonization, communities that were under the European rule were actually subjected. They believed that whatever they had and did was inferior to that of the Europeans. On the other hand, the Europeans had dominion over their colonies. They even were forcing them to denounce their religious and cultural practices and follow their western culture, which was regarded as civilized. However, when Africans, Asians, and Americans realized that no culture is superior to another, there began a rebellion uprising from every corner as the locals fought and demanded for independent rule and sovereignty.
The period for industrial age is over. Currently, societies in the world are living in the information age. The society or group of people that possesses information claims to have power and dominion over the rest. After the discovery of the Internet, new information and ideas are being developed at a fantastic rate. It is believed that currently, information available in the Internet becomes obsolete after every two years because new innovations are made all around the clock. The world has witnessed new power blocks rising, especially, in the Asian continent. These rising super power blocks have restructured the world power systems. Therefore, Africa and other third world societies should realize that world systems are dynamic. They need to evolve and reposition themselves in the world power systems.
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