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Westernization as a Threat to the Bali Nyonga Cultural Heritage

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Tourism and Hospitability Management 
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International: $20
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Western threats on cultural heritage has gained tremendous interest among researchers in the field of anthropology and ethnography.  Culture and heritage tourism has become one of the highest growing sector of the tourism industry.

However, cultural Heritage are facing a threat of being ruined or permanently lost as a result of westernization. The major objective of this study was to examine the influence of westernization on the Bali Nyonga Cultural Heritage.

The specific objectives were; to identify and investigate the different element of Bali Nyonga Culture facing a threat of westernization, to assess the impact of westernization on the Bali Nyonga Cultural Heritage with focus on their wedding, burial and child naming ceremony, to bring out the challenges faced by the Bali Nyonga people as a result of western influence on their culture and to propose possible solutions to the challenges.

The researcher used primary and secondary source to collect information.  The primary source of data was principally through a well-structured questionnaire and observation by the researcher. A total number of 65 questionnaires were administered.

The secondary source of data was collected from the internet and from libraries.  Quantitative data was analyzed using the statistical package for social science (SPSS) version 25 while qualitative data was analyzed using the Thematic Analysis Approach with the aid of themes, frequency and quotations.

Findings from the field revealed that there were 14 elements of the Bali Nyonga Cultural Heritage, all of those elements were facing a threat from Westernization and the Bali Nyonga people were facing some challenges such as discouragement of polygamy, conflicts in families as a result of cultural adulterations, disrespect of elders, problems of communication in traditional gatherings etc. as a result of western influence on their culture heritage.

On the bases of this findings, some recommendations were given so as to put in place measures to help stop the threat of westernization on the Bali Nyonga Cultural Heritage. Some of these recommendations were that;

The Cameroon Government should see to it that the medium of instruction in the primary school is initially the mother tongue (Mungaka dialect) and at a later stage, English language. Parents should communicate with their children in the dialect, Parents should always take their children to traditional events children should be name using cultural names.



This study is aimed at examining the threat of western culture on the Bali Nyonga cultural heritage. It is going to bring out some of the problems faced by the people as a result of western influence on their culture. The work is also going to propose to the Bali Nyonga the different measures they can put in place to conserve and preserve their culture.

The study will consist of five chapters. Chapter one will comprise background of the study, statement of problem, research question, research objectives, scope of the study, significance of the study and operational definition of terms.

Chapter two will comprise of literature review, theoretical framework. Chapter three will comprise of results and interpretations. Chapter five will comprise of recommendation and conclusion.

1.1 Background of the Study

According to Ajong (2009) westernization, is the “assimilation of Western culture” or the “adoption of western ideas and life styles by other countries” and Western culture often originates from Europe.

In a general sense, western culture connotes ethical values, traditional customs, belief system, political system, economic system, social norms, and specific artefacts and technologies of the western world.

Virtually all modern cultures have been affected and influenced by western culture. Colonization, education, Christianity, technological revolution among other factors contributed tremendously to the spread of Western culture. 

Westernism is a coinage from the word westernize which refers to the act of bringing ideas or ways of life that are typical of Western Europe and North America to other countries. Therefore, western culture connotes the knowledge, belief, morals and way of life of the Western world (Fakam, 2009).

Gosh (2011) postulates that, westernization can not be divorced from globalization. It has been correctly argued, in some quarters, that Western thought gave birth to globalization which in turn propagates Western culture. Globalization is from the word “Globe” meaning the world.

Thus globalization is a process by which economies, societies, and cultures are being integrated into a globe-spanning network of communication and trade. It is a concerted effort to diminish or eliminate differences among nations of the world and thereby make the entire world a global village.

Consequently, it is a cross border phenomenon (Okoro, 2009). Globalization is perpetuated by the agency of technological revolution, economic liberalization and democratic system of government.

Therefore, to a large extent one can safely submit that westernization and globalization are related especially as regards their impact on the entire international community and their respective cultures.

For instance, democracy which is the most widely practiced system of governance globally is of Western origin, so also are capitalism, technologies, and customs such as music, clothing, food, and a host of others.

On the other hand, Cultural heritage is an expression of the ways of living developed by a community and passed on from generation to generation, including customs, practices, places objects, (ICOMOS, 2002).

Cultural heritage has become one of the great pull factors to tourism. People visiting cultural and historical resources is one of the largest and fast growing sector of the tourism industry today.

Culture and tourism have always been inseparably linked. Cultural events, festivals, sights, provide an important motivation for travel and travel generate culture, offering a great source of income and employment. The value of cultural heritage preservation for tourism is both of financial and as an impetus for awakening interest and attracting support.

Tourism managed with clear objectives is a source of promotion of heritage tourism encouraging and enabling conservation. Heritage tourism should therefore be seen as a means of enabling appreciation of heritage and its safeguarding and continuity for future generation.

However, cultural heritage and heritage are facing threats of being ruined or permanently lost as a result of westernization and globalization if proper measures on conservation and preservation are not put in place (Wight, 1994).

Some researchers believe that heritage tourism may help conserve the cultural heritage of a destination, depending on a variety of factors among which government policies and guidance are primary.

On the contrary a destination with few strategies for cultural heritage conservation but maximum business goals of developing tourism based on its cultural heritage would see the loss of its culture and tradition in the development process.

The main reason for the threat of many cultural values can be seen in the sense of postmodernism. In postmodern society, tourism is often conceptualized as a highly complex series of production-related activities (Boyne & Rattansi, 1990).

This intricate scene is characterized by rapid movements through areas that are segmented into national and regional cultures and traditions creating an international identity in what has been termed the “global village” (Bonafice& Fowler, 1993).

In reconstructing and experiencing this global village, there is an infinite possibility of movements combined with interlocking scales of time and space involving international, national, regional and local resources.

In the world of tourism, fantasy and reality are interwoven: the emergence of “virtual reality”, which collapses both time and space, may be the perfect technological manifestation of this phenomenon. The desire of humans to travel across space and time is not just a temporary fashion or a series of nostalgic dreams, but has become a reality for many.

However, the history of tourism shows that it is a phenomenon that has undergone a process of metamorphosis manifest in idiosyncratic ways. If, following the industrial revolution, the 19th century can be portrayed as the destruction of the past and its replacement with the new, the 20th century is characterized by a new awareness that seeks to find novel ways to communicate with the past.

This is reflected in recent trends among global travelers who seek novelty through a return to traditional social values; whose new tastes and styles refer back to the past; and whose demands have become more specialized.

Such phenomena often indicate a search for authenticity, identity and encounters that differ from those obtainable through mass tourism (Urry, 1990).

Thus, tourism is being anticipated and experienced in different ways than previously. New forms of reproduction of the past and associated consumption patterns are reflected in the ways that people choose to travel.

A movement towards one’s roots and a growing appreciation of tradition are aspects of relating to one’s total environment. They reflect the interplay between the local and the global.

Such trends can be viewed as manifestations of postmodernism. As in postmodern architecture, travel and travelers display ornamentation and style, aesthetics and symbols, all of which are essential to confirming the tourist’s search for new meaning and dignity.

The threat of westernization on African culture is as a consequence of colonialism. These nation-states are also made up of diverse tribes with differences based on divergent religions, languages, and traditional occupations, attitudes, beliefs, values, and a host of others.

Nevertheless, despite these differences, there is a meeting point as regards what they hold to be of great value (Egbeke 2000). It is a common knowledge that Africans are resilient and over the years, have developed their value systems.

Africans have peculiar value systems. The socio-cultural evolution in Africa in one way or the other has provoked development and crisis as well.

Most of the time, the crisis generated are intolerable at the extreme, antagonistic and provokes war. The various conflicts which greeted the coming of white-man in many parts of Africa were eloquent enough to this. Some harmful cultural practices were abolished and Africans were given formal education (Wakman, 2008).

 A critical look at the Western influence on African culture shows both good and bad influences. This has made much of African native culture give way to the European culture. Either by design or accident, Africans have imbibed the Western culture and have appropriated it so much that it now becomes almost part and parcel of their lives.

Rodee (1993) saw African social problems which emanated from Western influence as one-crop economies, pervasive corruption, spiraling inflation, massive unemployment, over-crowded cities and destitute villages. Obviously, the culture of African people is still undergoing contacts and conflicts which results to a healthier life of the society resulting in an improved social system.

However, in the light of the present state of African culture which Cameroon is included, mismanagement, greed, embezzlement, bribery, tribalism has downplayed the influence of culture on the social system.

Culture should act as a watchdog to African social system. This is a clear indication why modern method of birth control as abortion has been rebuffed in many cultures despite the enormous efforts of its proponents to give it the best recognition (Shawn & Dash, 2009).

Cameroon being a country in Africa is blessed with different cultural and historical events, some of which are celebrated annually. Diverse cultural activities found in more than 250 ethnic groups (Yenshu, 2011). This cultural diversity is manifested by a rich and diverse folklore, arts, handicrafts and way of life.

Over the past years, cultural tourism has become a source of attraction, as the country has witnessed an increase in national and community activities. This led to her designation as a tourist destination in 2010 (Awa, 2010).

The North West Region of Cameroon is endowed with lots of cultural touristic potentials which attract both national and international tourists. Bali Nyonga a village in the North West has a rich cultural heritage which is facing a threat of shifting from its originality towards western culture.

Therefore, there is a great need to investigate and take great measures towards preserving, conserving and maintaining the original culture. This study is to examine the threat on the cultural heritage of the Bali Nyonga people

1.1, Problem Statement

Before the advent of westernization, many African cultures were binding and well respected especially the Bali Nyonga culture. Strange enough, today, there are so many problems faced by the Bali Nyonga people as a result of western influence on their culture.

It has subjected the culture to pollution, confusion, over dependence, conflict, dominance.  Due to cultural change, Okon (2016) averse the political atmosphere in the land is now a problem which has made the contemporary African politician no longer see themselves as leaders who have the mandate of their people to serve.

Today, people now fight, kill and bulldoze their way into position of power. This shows deviation and abandonment of value especially the secrets of human life.

The culture of Bali Nyonga have witness a shift since the inception of western culture this has brought a lot of negative effects on the lives of the people abandoning their culture in favor of the western cultures making the people to lose part of their social identity.

The people used to be self- dependent and could solve their own problems with knowledge from their cultural heritage; they lived a community live where they assisted each other in times of problem, there was a lot of respect for human life. 

On the contrary, a great portion has been eroded and if care is not taken, the identity of the people might completely disappear. Hence, this study is to examine the impact of westernization and it threats to the Bali Nyonga cultural heritage. 

1.2, Research Question

This study is made up of both general and specific research questions

General Research Question

What is the impact of westernization on the Bali Nyonga cultural heritage?

Specific Research Question

The study will be guided by the following specific questions;

  • What are the different elements that constitute the Bali Nyonga cultural heritage?
  • What are the impacts of westernization on Bali Nyonga cultural heritage?
  • What are the challenges faced by the Bali people as a result of westernization
  • Are there some measures that can be put in place to reduce the threat of westernization on the Bali Nyonga cultural heritage?

1.3, Research Objective

This study will be guided by the following objectives

General Objectives

To examine the influence of westernization on the Bali Nyonga cultural heritage

Specific Objectives

  • To identify and investigate the different aspects of Bali Nyonga culture facing the threat of westernization
  • To asses the impact of westernization on Bali Nyonga cultural heritage with focus on their wedding, burial, child naming ceremony.
  • To bring out the challenges faced by the Bali Nyoga people as a result of western influence on their culture
  • To propose possible solution to the challenges in order to protect and preserve the cultural heritage of BaliNyonga
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