Recently I read Blossoms of the Savannah, a novel by H. R. Ole Kulet, where he addresses the elusive concerns of female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriages among the Maa community of the Massaiand and I couldn’t help concurring with him on a number of issues, especially where he says culture is dynamic and not static.
Culture is always changing, and it’s up to us to change with it and adopt if we need to avoid conflicts among ourselves. It’s up to us to shed off the irrelevant — the culture that’s no longer working for us — aspects of our culture and embrace only the good, like the fabrics that has held the Maasai Community together for that long, when most African cultures have already disintegrated and forgotten most of their traditions.
Culture is very important. It’s the ideas, the customs, and the social behavior of a particular people or society. Culture defines who we are as a people, and it’s a way of life. I want to hold on to it as far as it takes, I want to believe in my peoples’s way of life; their language, the food they eat, their art and music, their rituals and their beliefs. I want that to live on forever!
But, I want to hold on to that only that is practical in today’s world, only that culture that is relevant and helps improve and strengthen the relationship, the peace and togetherness of my people. A culture that treats all people equally without prejudices. A culture that doesn’t support trampling upon others’ rights like what F.G.M. is doing to the girlchild today.
The following is some of the bad African cultures I think we should shed off, not forgetting witchcraft which has led to many deaths in our communities.
Female genital mutilation (FGM):
Also known as female circumcision, is the ritual of cutting or removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. FGM is still being practiced, though in secrecy, among the Maasai community who still believe it’s the only transition of a girl to womanhood. Some of those still practicing this obnoxious custom are of the belief that no woman should be married before undergoing the cut. That it helps make women docile. FGM tremendously affects the victims both physically and mentally and should be ended.
Harming of innocent children:
Killing of Twins in some African communities. Some communities believe that twins, or any birth exceeding one at a time is an abomination and that the twins should be killed as soon as possible. In most cases a sacrifice should be carried out by the family to appease the gods.
Ill-Treatment of Widows in some African communities:
Widows To Drink Water Used To Wash Dead Husband. In some communities, widows are subjected to some wicked belief where they are told to drink the water used to wash the dead husband’s body. The reason given for this is to show that she is innocent of the husband’s death. If she did not die within certain number of days after drinking the water, that will exonerate her from killing her husband.
Also, in some communities, widows are made to shave their heads and move about in complete black clothing everywhere they go for almost a year. This is a compulsory act of respect for the dead husband which the widow must carry out whether she likes it or not.