I did find it interesting to learn that African advancements in civilization had preceded European involvement. Much of the Western literature available seems to avoid this fact due to either their ignorance and/or conceit. We have always known about the Egyptians and their archaeological importance with the pyramids and hieroglyphics, but it was fascinating to see how Sub-Saharan Africa also had advanced social structures and innovations related to the arts and civilization as well as how Portugal, now a Western empire, shared many of these traits. Personally I have a great appreciation for traditional arts that come from native populations.
I am not of the breed that like it due to its primitivism and ‘backwardness’ as some anthropologists and colonizers are/were. I think that much of the traditional artwork is of great cultural importance because it links us with other cultures outside of our own and it provides us with a new framework for understanding both history and contemporary society. Today, too many Westerners are addicted to pop-culture (which in and of itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing). The constant cycle of current events and contemporary art disconnects us from creating meaningful personal relationships with our peers as well as with our pasts.
It perpetuates an ignorance of history in the name of keeping up with ‘the new’. This effectively stops us from appreciating and understanding how much of our current art landscape has historical roots, for example hip-hop and pop music today has incorporated the rhythms and percussive beats of traditional African and Native tribes and societies. The mass of today’s contemporary mass culture unfortunately values homogeneity and blank reception instead of creating and encouraging diversity of thought and experience.