Let’s talk about culture

Spread the love

Culture. Hey I’m not talking about bacteria or tissue cells in an artificial medium containing nutrients, I’m simply talking about the way of life, the customs and beliefs of a particular people at a particular time. How our ancestors lived with each other. The laws they followed. 

Ever thought how different your life would have been if you were born a century ago?I have. I’m sure you’ve read or heard about how life was like back then. Responsibilities were issues according to age and gender. 

As a boy you were taught how to be a man and not just any man an ideal man. A man that could protect the community if the cattle raiders passed by to say hi. The fishing, hunting, herding, protecting ones family, it was all part of the growing up module. The men got the jobs while the wives stayed at home bearing and taking care of the children.

Let us not forget about the ceremonies that surrounded important transitional periods like birth, puberty, marriage and death . The birth of a male was of more value than that of a female hence had more ululations and more celebrations afterwards. 

Children were a source of prestige. A man with more sons than daughters was respected more. Children were named according to the seasons, the weather, time of day (My mother’s name is Nduku she was born at night) or after relatives. This was the system most communities followed. 

As a girl, you were a source of wealth and ended up being married off to the village chief as the 20th wife as soon as puberty kicked in. From a young age you were taught your place in the society. Roles were clearly defined. 

Initiation rites included removal of the front teeth, fighting and killing a lion (among the maasai) and the most common circumcision. These rites stripped off ones previous roles in readiness for new adult ones. The success or failure in these determined if someone was fit to marry or get married among other roles. 

Marriage was sacred and a mandatory once one was of a certain age. It was an important rite. One of the factors considered before you became a leader was marriage. Polygamy and wife inheritance was completely allowed. Many wives resulted to many children and many children was a sign of wealth.

There was no use of family planning methods unlike in the present. 

Having children was a blessing (it still is ) and being unable to have any was a curse that needed the woman cleanse herself and appease the gods and ancestors. 

A woman “carrying a child”  was to be treated in a very special way. She was advised on what to do and what not to do by older women. Her diet was also special. In some communities she was to go live with her mother or grand mother until she gave birth so that they take care of her. Rituals were performed to ensure she had a safe delivery.  

During delivery, the father of the unborn baby stayed outside with other male relatives as they waited to be told the gender of the child.

The last rite of passage was death. It was as gloomy as always and included people shave their heads among others. Different communities mourned differently. 

Means of communication. Would you imagine yourself blowing a horn or sending smoke signals or sending messengers? This ways worked for them though.  

Ask me to name a particular plant and I’ll probably have no idea if it’s not the common cactus, sunflower or maize plant. I kinda envy their art to obtain medicine from plants directly. 

Unlike us their gifts includes rainmaking, midwifery and herbalists.

I don’t want you feeling like you’re in a never ending history class at 1400hrs with your belly full and its 50°c outside. You know that feeling? I do not want you feeling that. 

I could go ahead and talk about how different communities had different traditions, wife inheritance,the rituals,early marriages,bannishment,worshipping under trees,polygamy ,pouring libation etc but i won’t. Maybe next time . 

Sharing is Caring

Do you have a groundbreaking story you would like us to publish? Please reach us through [email protected]. You can also contact 254news.co.ke Instantly.