| Gabriel Essack ‘talks culture’ - 28.09.2010
What is culture? A collective system of knowledge of a society, a way of life or human activities in a given environment for its survival?
This was how Gabriel Essack – principal research officer in the Heritage Research and Protection Section of the Department of Culture – opened his presentation on culture at the National Cultural Centre last week.
His lecture was the first in a series of talks to take place during the coming months, on a variety of topics, and launched by the department. The aim is to stimulate dialogue and discussion on a wide range of issues such as environment, society and fitness.
The talk was attended by Social Development and Culture Minister Bernard Shamlaye and culture principal secretary Raymonde Onezime.
Also present were teachers, representatives of various government departments and non-governmental organisations.
During his PowerPoint presentation Mr Essack, who has a background in anthropology – the study of humanity and how humans behave – spoke about institutions and conditions that influence culture.
He said law, religion, geography, climate and technology are examples of such things that affect culture.
Concepts of culture, the stages to cultural adaptation and cultural homogeneity were among the other topics he covered in great detail.
Mr Essack explained that there are different phases a person goes through when living abroad. There is the honeymoon phase, which takes about two weeks; this is the time when one is still new to the country.
Then there is the shock phase, when you start questioning yourself: Can I live with these people? Can I adapt to this way of life?
Then follows the adaptation period, when you start to get used to the new culture. Maybe you have lots of friends and even a partner there, and now you are enjoying life and even learn the language.
And finally, after your course or job, when you go back home and start to miss the “foreign country”.
Mr Essack also discussed the issue of globalisation and its effects on the different concepts of culture.
After his talk, members of the public asked questions such as whether the apartment lifestyle has helped to destroy our culture. They also discussed multiculturalism – the type of culture that can be used to describe a typical Seychellois.
Mr Essack said people might misinterpret such lectures. The culture talks are not aiming to convince people to go back to the way our ancestors lived, but are an opportunity to learn more about the subject.
“These lectures help people to share ideas and point of views on several issues,” he said.
The objective of his presentation was to provoke cultural debate, develop cultural thinking, introduce the dynamics of culture, develop cultural perception and awareness of cultural concepts.
The next talk is scheduled for October 13, and the Culture Department will confirm the speaker and topic soon.