There are many definitions of culture. We use the word here in the sense that culture is the combination of all aspects that form the way of living of, in this case, households, in a characteristic pattern. These aspects include world views, values, habits, traditions, practices, actions, as well as the more visible structures of architecture and technology. When these aspects combine in patterns that are found generally in households and that are fairly persistent over time, we can talk of a household culture. The fact that it is fairly persistent means that it can change, but that such change is not completely discontinuous: elements of what was there before can be expected to continue in new combinations in future.

Modernisation is often seen as the solution to poverty in Africa. This view is often rejected in the resistance to colonization, and has flared up in South Africa around the years 2015 to 2017 in the decolonization and post-colonization movements. We do not think that any outsider should prescribe to households that they must follow modern Western culture and reject traditional African culture, or prescribe anything else. The households must decide. In most low-income households we find elements of both cultures, and one often finds that poverty and HIV, as well as the destruction of the ecology are the result of the dysfunctional interaction and destructive combinations of diverse elements of these two complex systems. But there are also examples of and possibilities for life-giving and beneficial combinations, and we want to facilitate that where possible.