Cultural relativism rides on the back of the belief that no culture is superior to any other culture when comparing systems of morality, law, politics, etc. Diversity in religious and political beliefs between tribes should be mutually respected. These beliefs are completely relative to the individual within a cultural identity. Then there is situational relativism, where some decisions are justifiable in a given circumstance.

There are reasonable grounds to believe that religious practices borrows deeply from cultures. Some religions worship animals, but without rubbishing them as a nonsensical, you must ask yourself; why a cow not a pig, not a goat, not an elephant. Probably there is a plausible reason, within the confines of that particular culture. Look at circumcision for example; others value it from the religious perspective while others from a cultural practice. A deeper assessment could reveal further interlinkages.

When modern religion reached Africa, Africans were told in no uncertain terms to denounce their traditional religion, which were instantly termed devilish by propagators of the new Godly religions. In most Luo dialects, Jok, for instance generally referred to the god the Africans believed in. The foreigners who did not even know our language were later to force our people to use the same word jok, which hitherto meant god, but this time round to mean satan – who is the exact opposite. Those who disbanded their former faith were disappointed because today Bishops under the same auspices of religions that declared African Religion evil are seen to commit sins just like pagans.

In the cold war era, some African countries found themselves fighting wars on behalf of other countries with contrasting political ideologies. With these wars came economic wastage that the rich nations could have avoided, and the poor nations could have done better. The irony is that a lot of opportunity cost is incurred as a result of affairs arising out of simple differences. Terrorism today is threatening to or has acquired religious face, with other countries supporting terrorists simply because of a shared religious belief. The foregoing example shows how absolutism perspectives of right and wrong has made the world a pathetic place to be. The other problem with the person who believes that his culture is the best is that, he/she simply overlooks and cannot learn the good parts of another culture which might prove relevant or helpful to him/her.

I find Cultural relativism an agreeable notion that could promote mutual respect, that in turn fosters co-existence and tolerance. In a relativist environment, there is reduction in conflicts, or rather containing conflicts of thoughts and action to acceptable levels, which promises a better world.  Excessive conflicts as everyone knows it, is one of the greatest hindrances to development or progress of any description.

Most prominently cultural relativism accepts the dynamism in cultures as an individual society’s ways of living keeps on changing day after day.  As long as the customs of one culture doesn’t “hurt” another, anything goes. What does one lose by simply appreciating the ways of another man, when he is free to practice his own ways guided by the dictates of his own conscience?