A Socio-Cultural Commentary on the Introduction of Male Circumcision in the Traditionally Non-Circumcising Luo Community of Western Kenya (Published)
Of Kenya’s total of 44 ethnic groups, only a handful are traditionally non-circumcising, while all the rest practise circumcision. The traditionally non-circumcising lot consists of three tribes and two sub-tribes. They are: the Luo, the Turkana and the Teso, and two sub-tribes of the Luhya tribe namely Luhya tribe namely the Banyala of Port Victoria and the Samia. Of these, the Luo community is the largest and one of the country’s most culturally distinct communities- its distinct culture being non-circumcision. This dichotomy has a superiority contest and rivalry between these two diametrically opposite cultures. The circumcising communities consider themselves superior to the non-circumcising ones for reason of the pain they endure during circumcision, hence despise the latter as cowards who have feared undergoing the pain of circumcision. This has made circumcision such a sensitive and emotive issue that arouses variant passions and controversy between these two categories. Yet, for the non-circumcising communities such as the Luo, non-circumcision is their traditional customary practice and cultural norm, rather than an omission. Incidentally however, male circumcision was introduced in the Luo community slightly over a decade ago; which seems to endanger this culture of non-circumcision, as well as the cultural future of this community. Notably, while to some segment of the Luo community circumcision has come as a relief to the ridicule and despisement that the community has for long endured from the country’s traditionally circumcising communities, to another large segment of the community, this new practice is an affront on the community’s cultural identity, cultural integrity, ethnic identity, and even traditional customary law. This commentary discusses the socio-cultural implications the introduction of circumcision in this community, hence is timely and of anthropological significance. It mainly presents the author’s views; but also draws from the documented research and diverse documented views of other commentators on the subject, as well as the responses from informal interviews and focus group discussions the author had with respondents. The respondents were selected from target groups that included: ordinary citizens; community leaders; officials of governmental and non-governmental entities; policy-makers as well as experts and scholars in the areas of public policy, sociology, cultural anthropology, history and law. The data and information obtained from those interviews and discussions was analyzed by qualitative analysis since it was essentially of a qualitative character. From those contacts, the author established that the Luo community and other traditionally non-circumcising communities currently embracing circumcision are doings so not for any tangible benefit(s) or ratio, but largely as a modern practice that is fashion and a sort of craze. This is in contrast to their culture of non-circumcision, which they now consider outmoded and out of fashion. The benefits popularly touted for introducing circumcision, for instance hygiene and other medical benefits; alleged sexual performance boosting and other erotic considerations; and physiological benefits such as improving the visual appearance of the male sexual organ, are in reality only secondary rather than primary considerations. While in the country’s traditionally circumcising ethnic communities circumcision is either a religious cultural rite or rite of passage that marks the passage of an adolescent into adulthood, in the Luo community as in its other traditionally non-circumcising mates, circumcision as a newly introduced practice is a mere artificial medical and/or cosmetic procedure that is a mere branding of the genitalia, with no tangible benefits or significance. Such that the real beneficiaries of Luo circumcision are other actors, as the community loses, in terms of the abandonment of a crucial aspect of their traditional culture, namely non-circumcision.
The research dealt with the Bakundu Traditional Stones in Pre-Colonial Bombe Bakunduland(Cameroon.) The traditions and cultures of African ethnic groups have remaind the priorities in constructing and reconstructing of the legacy and heritage of the continent. The Bakundus have brandished the effectiveness of their tradition in relinguishing remnants and totems (stones)and its legacies with historical justifications for consumption. Historical sources have broadcast justifictions of worth, capabilities, abilties, and belief systems of the Bakundus and their traditional stones. Such arguments set the platform through which the Bakundu ancestral shrine possessed traditional stones which equally possess spiritual metaphysical powers unveiling the traditional cults and belief systems.
This article examines aspects of the socio-cultural institutions and practices in the context of traditional Mbaise society and culture. The process of evolution and growth of Mbaise society was predicated on a number of institutions and practices which had socio-cultural, political, economic and religious implications. Appreciating the fact that social development is a vast area in socio-cultural history, the paper concentrated on the family structure, marriage institutions, religious beliefs and practices. Traditional Mbaise society was endowed with these great institutions and others which Christianity sought to wipe out, though without success. The impact of Christianity and other western influences notwithstanding, the paper argues that these institutions generated ideas, values, and norms which crystallized into the Mbaise identity and cosmology. Against the backdrop of the popular opinion held by the western writers to the effect that pre-colonial African societies were not part of world history and civilization (and hence incapable of initiating change), we argue further that this negative and bias narrative about pre-colonial African societies is now very anachronistic and no longer worthy of intellectual attention by scholars of both African and European persuasions
The work focuses on the traditional African governance; it specifically examines those traditional forms of governance that made the society to stand firmly before the advent of Europeans. Many of these traditions were not written down, there were no constitutions; it was just a commitment to make the society move. If constitutionalism is defined as a commitment to limitations on political powers, then it is possible to have such a commitment without a single documentary constitution most especially when commitment is in the blood and culture of the people and at the same time, those people have a keen sense of their own identity.In this work, we will interrogate traditional culture of governance in some communities in Africa. We will examine how effective that governance was and then see the level of commitment to limitation on political power (constitutionalism) and whether some of the relics of governance are still preserved till today. This paper therefore, will employ the conceptual, analytical and reconstructive research methods. While the conceptual method will focus on clarifying key concepts such as constitutionalism, commitment, governance, tradition and culture; the analytical method will examine the period of governance before the advent of Europeans. The reconstructive method will establish the need for this commitment in today Africa.
It has been observed that societal ills and vices abound in every nooks and crannies of this country and all over the world. The rate at which the youths are involved in immoral behaviour is a thing of concern to everyone. Many people are of the opinion that the disregard for and loss of our rich indigenous cultural values that encourage morality and good behaviour which the children and youths of the past were known for are responsible for these ugly situations in the country today. Many children and youths do not speak their indigenous language (mother tongue) neither do they understand the culture and traditions of their people. This is not surprising as culture and tradition go hand in hand with language. This paper supports that the only way out is for us to return to our cultural tradition which the people of the past used in entertaining and educating their children and youths. The paper is of the view that oral literature (folktale), when used to lay solid foundation in upbringing and education of the youths, will go a long way in inculcating moral values to them. The paper also advises that parents and teachers should serve as the mirror or model through which the children imitate and imbibe the societal values and aid in curbing immoral behaviour in the society. It also aims proffering a teaching model by which Igbo folktale can serve as a tool for inculcating core values to children and youths.
Traditional Values versus Modernity: Towards A Resolution of the Dilemma of Culture Conflict in African Society (Published)
This paper looks at the trend of alien behaviours and attitudes, which have been consciously and unconsciously imbibed by Africans in general and Nigerian youths in particular, and how these have negatively impacted on the various aspects of our life-family, education, economy, among others. Using a hypothetical approach as well as direct observation, the paper attempts a chronicle of these foreign cultural traits which presently threaten our individuality, our family system, our society and the very constituents of our humanity as members of a well ordered society. It looks at the role the movies can play by providing corrective measures, documenting the proper and acceptable values as well as preserving them for the future. It proffers suggestions for the way forward and makes recommendations which, if adopted, could help redirect our culture and refocus our society for a richer, more beneficial and more meaningful existence.
As human beings, the first social group by which we are identified is culture. Being a way of life that brings out the uniqueness in a people, it is meant to be progressive. Philosophy is a tool that is necessarily needed to fine-tune culture in order to raise it to certain level of objectivity. Notwithstanding the influence of western civilization on Africa, critically analyzing certain concepts, we aver that the preservation of culture is hinged on progressive intellectual discourse, lest our cultures face threat of extinction and remains a dormant tradition.
New Trends in the Ahwiaa Wood Carving Industry in Ghana: Implications for Art Education and Socio-Economic Growth (Published)
Asantes in Ghana are noted for their expertise in variety of specialized visual arts such as wood carving. Ahwiaa wood carving industry has developed; though production techniques have remained stereotype. Tools have greatly remained simple, materials the same, variations in form have not changed much and conventional treatment has not promoted creativity and originality, yet some new trends, new approaches are noticeable today. At present, globalization, trade, education, religion, changes in societal values and cultural practices, political and economic challenges, technology, trade (commerce), knowledge explosion have generated new approaches in the Ahwiaa wood carving industry. Besides, no organized documentation has been done on the Ahwiaa wood carving industry, so that the researchers almost always have to rely on oral tradition as a source of information from wood carvers. The researchers employed the qualitative descriptive method to carry out the study. The data were collected using interviews and observation. The researchers found out that the tools used are simple tools made by the local blacksmith which are sharpened and maintained by oiling and storing after use. The main material is wood, formerly acquired by felling special trees from the forest. Today, the log for carving is bought from Timber contractors. The carving of an item follows specific processes, according to tradition. Women were prevented from carving in the past; today women are free to carve if they so wish. The researchers recommend that School of Business, departments of Sculpture and Integrated Rural Art and Industry at KNUST should organize workshops for carvers at Ahwiaa and introduce them to modern wood carving technologies, entrepreneurial skills and business strategies to equip them to promote tourism and socio-economic development of Ghana as well as their personal development