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Culture As A Lived Experience

By A.B.C. Ocholla-Ayayo,Population Studies And Research Institute,University Of Nairobi



Culture is man-made, what is not man-made is not culture. By culture we mean an extrasomatic, temporal of things and events dependent upon symboling. Human being made culture and continue to make culture for his/her own survival and comfort. Thus human beings live by culture other than instinct in order to remain a live; but culture that human beings made and continue to make changes and model the behaviour of its makers in some general and specific ways.

Culture as a lived experience

Culture as a lived experience is invented or created, learnt and borrowed, accumulated and transmitted from one generation to another through learning processes. Although the mind of a human being is capable of imagining new ideas, creating new cultural elements, it is also like empty tablets (tabula rosa) where cultural norms and values, beliefs and knowledge as well as practical skills are implanted to enable a human being become a functional adult.

Culture as a lived experience undergoes changes of content as well as structural form. New elements are being added; old elements are dropped out; some more normative may resist change or change only slowly; others expressing universal ethics and moral rules as well as functions of culture in human society remain always the same in all human societies. They are the cornerstones of a constitution of any human society simple or complex, rich or poor, large or small.

Culture as a lived experience in the sense that its functions are encompassing all aspects of social life in any society (Ocholla-Ayayo, 1980; White, 1960; Keesing 1960; Klolhol, 1963; Narol and Cohen 1970; Krober, 1948, 1976 among others).

* Culture as a lived experience in the sense that its functions fulfill both proximate and ultimate ends of human kind (Write 1966; Callahan, 1975).

* Culture as a lived experience in the sense that every society has its own socio-cultural ideologies and ideology of each society stresses certain elements in its social structures more than the others and this form peculiar element of cultural diversity as lived experience.

* Culture is a lived experience in the sense that it is the source of living law, the law which dominates life itself even though it has not been posited in legal propositions (Ehrlich 1936:493).

* Culture as a lived experience from which we measure our limitations and underdevelopment.

* Culture as a lived experience has lessons to be learnt if the right decisions have to be made.

* Culture as a lived experience with propensity to resist.

* Culture as lived experience have lessons that ought to be learned if wrong acts are to be avoided.

* Culture as a lived experience that ought to mark as a starting point for our sustainable development (Ocholla-Ayayo, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2001).

* Culture as a lived experience from where we can make judgements of what is right and what is wrong.

The mind of a human being, while it is capable of imagining new ideas and concepts is also like empty tablets (tabula rosa) where cultural norms and values, beliefs and knowledge, ideologies as well as practical skills are implanted to enable him become a functional adult (Hume and Locke 17th and 18"' C philosophers; S.K. Skolimowski and Quito, 1973).

Culture as a lived experience undergoes changes of content as well as structural form. New elements may be added; old elements may be dropped out; some more normative resist change or only change slowly; others expressing ethical and moral values as well as functions of culture remain constant from generation to another.

The Role Of Culture In Society

A human being takes many years to mature and become a functional adult. It is only through culture that a human being is able to protect and take care of their own infants as they go through the various social and biological development. Culture provides the means of protecting not only the human infants but also the old adults, the widows, the orphans, the handicaps, the sick and the weak ones. The function of culture therefore summarizes all or most of human development as we know them in Africa or any society small or big, simple or complex.

The most generally referred to are:

1. Those cultural elements used to exploit natural resources for human survival and comfort.

2. Those aimed at maintaining biological continuity of members of the society, by imparting norms, beliefs and values of marriage and family life and for regulating heterosexual relations. They define types and forms of marriages, they specify who are permitted or not to enter into marital relations and have children; they define and legitimize status of children; they define what is moral or unethical and should not be permitted, the ethics of customs define their extents, type and form and distance of marriage according to a particular society.

3. Those aspects of culture which are directed towards socializing young members into functional adults by implanting norms, beliefs, values, knowledge and skills, as well as socio-cultural ideologies and social philosophy based on historical background of the people, life as it is lived and the environmental conditions.

4. Those aspects of culture which aim at organizing production, distribution and consumption of goods as well as providing services necessary to life by establishing norms and values for division of labour, social organization based on skills and professions for exploiting natural resources for maintaining security of survival and comfort.

5. Those aiming at maintaining law and order within the society and between societies by establishing social control mechanisms such as legal institutions, arbitrators, council of elders, etc for regulating and maintaining orderly interactions and relationship among members of the society and between its members and different groups and society.

6. Those cultural aspects organizing human population in a culturally defined social order by creating for them common language for communication without which skills and knowledge, moral value as well as other physical and non-physical cultural artifacts may never be realized.

7. Those aspects of culture defining the meaning of life as it is lived in this world and what will happen to man after death, by establishing the institutions (such as religious institutions and medical institutions) for providing hope and comfort for proximate and ultimate ends.

The above functions of culture summarizes all aspects of human development in any society and which must be sustained as a basic in any constitutional development in Africa. In Africa, the essence of sustainable development is the maintenance of security of survival. More basic to this security of survival are health security, food security, shelter, peace, human rights, education among others (see Ocholla-Ayayo, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001). A constitution which is not based on the functions of culture is a non starter and its construction will rest on weak foundations.

Today concepts such as "cultural diversity", "cultural freedom" are regarded among the main pillars of democratic state (UNESCO Report, 1996). A culturally based constitution will first of all be directed towards solving security of survival, the very essence of sustainable development. Culturally based constitution will take as first priority what the UN (1985) has defined as basic necessities of life which include "food, shelter, clean water, freedom and human rights, health care, education and social welfare" (ibid, 1985).

In Africa, the condition of life is growing from bad to worst every day, as we drift away from the very basic cultural functions, even the very elementary sources of security of survival which our cultures have provided for generations are rapidly declining. Ocholla-Ayayo (1995); Callahan (1975) would have termed Africa's pathetic situation as inability to provide "proximate ends" while striving more for "ultimate ends". Ocholla-

Ayayo (1985, 1991, 2001) has singled out "security of survival of mankind as the prima face". Ominde (1982) adds more issues such as "raising the literacy above a critical level, reducing dependency ratios, eliminating starvation and malnutrition, making clean water available to all, increasing sustainable economic development, and improving health and welfare services". Lack of all these constitute poverty in Africa.


Culture and Behaviour Change

Kenyans have realized how cultural behaviour is difficult to change even in light of HIV/AIDS epidemic and deaths. At some point, it was believed that Kenyans need only to be aware through the awareness campaign in order to change their behaviour. It was thought that if people know that AIDS kills, that AIDS has no cure and that AIDS can kill any person small or big, poor or rich, learned or uneducated, they will change their behaviour. They were even told that 75 percent of HIV infection is transmitted through heterosexual contact so that thev mav change their sexual behaviour but they did not.

The reasons for not changing are based on two cultural propositions, that culture has developed, over a long period of time, the mechanisms of dealing with fear of death. Human beings in all societies have lived with death ever since and made death part of their culture, established norms, beliefs and values as well as practices of death. The second is a cultural proposition put forward by Ocholla-Ayayo and Ogutu (1986) that "Belief and value systems and ethical prescriptions once established by a given population in a given environment, under a historical background tend to generate customs and traditions, habits and prejudices, loyalties and allegiances as well as practices that can drastically affect efforts to transform this potentially rich Africa and change their social behaviour in light of the AIDS epidemic.

These beliefs and value systems as well as ethical prescriptions once established have strong propensity to resist change. Thus, within a given environment such as rural and urban Africa, traditional values and beliefs of a people tend to remain relatively constant or change only slowly and therefore, it is possible to map them and analyse their impact on socio-

economic development in rural and urban Kenya where efforts to control HIV/AIDS have not been so successful and where a number of development programmes are being initiated (Ocholla-Ayayo, Ogutu, 1986, 1987:5).

Culture and Heterosexual Relation

Kenyans perhaps have realized that 75 percent of HIV/AIDS mode of transmission is surrounded by multitude of socio-cultural norms, beliefs, values, religious commandment, ethics of customs, moral rules, acted laws; all trying to control or regulate heterosexual relations but with little success. Ocholla-Ayayo (1995) developed a proposition that "Although sex is a psycho-biological process in human beings and other animals, in human beings it can be affected, excited, and even suppressed by social, economic, cultural, political and medical actions.

Culture and Political Unity

Kenyans have experienced how difficult it is within political unity because socio-cultural ideologies are preferred to national "political ideologies", if there is any. Ocholla-Ayayo (2001:4) asserts that political poverty is the lack of national political ideology capable of over-coming cultural ideologies. Political poverty is the lack of common cultural values, norms, beliefs and practices to enrich democracy; lack of social philosophy required democratic systems within the context of ethnicity Kenya finds itself. The statements such as "it is our time to rule this country"; "we are being finished"; "our land is being grabbed"; "I will make sure that my people also eat when I am in power", etc (Ocholla-Ayayo, 1986; 1997; 2001:4; Odak 1988, 1995; Anyang Nyongo, 1993); are manifestations of propensity of the culture.

Culture and Adolescence

Every culture is aware that the physical changes of the adolescent not only affect his/her emotional state and open the path to adult sexuality, but also affect the expectations of others and contribute in an important way to emancipation from his/her family -and her/his social status in the community. Unresolved conflicts from earlier experiences surface once more and call for new solutions. Culture had well organized pressure and influence. If left undirected peer pressure has its maximum impact at this age and may misdirect the behaviour of the teenagers. At his stage some may feel out of place and fashion when their peers are engaged in certain activities as drug use, unsafe sex. Their friends urge them to join in the habits least they be ridiculed, rejected and isolated from their company. Cultural modes of socialization provided solution to these pressure and influence. Without cultural modes of socialization, what do we have in place to deal with these rites of passage? What are the coping mechanisms we have in place for this reality of life which the teenagers pass through?

Culture and Religiosity

Religion is a product of cultural beliefs, a well-organized system of beliefs. Beliefs implant faith and, faith is the evidence of things that we hope for, things that have not been seen. As once Rachier (1993:17) puts it. " .Kenya in particular consists of a large religious community and could therefore, not skirt religious views". Religions uphold "chastity before marriage" and "fidelity in marriage". Religion gives hope here and hereafter, and therefore, goes beyond medicine, thus teaching of religion on social ills, including those conducive to the spread of HIV/AIDS is important. Religious infrastructure encompasses both sexes and age groups, 'its message is grounded on ethical principles of moral rules. This is a normative part of culture which is universal and common in all human societies. The religious call for "chastity before marriage" and "fidelity in marriage" is moral solution to the HIV transmission and containment in this society but this can be achieved only if supported by other functions of culture because culture looks at the totality of social life and lays down other beliefs, norms and values for practical life as it is lived. The core of all cultures in all societies of mankind is grounded on ethical principles of moral rules not only as regards to sex but also for other aspects of social life.

Culture and Leviratic Marriage

The negative aspect of this cultural practice has surfaced in light of the HIV/AIDS modes of transmission. Kenyans have realized that an attempt to get rid of levirate or widow inheritance, now widower inheritance has touched a very sensitive part of marriage beliefs and practices. In all cultures, marriage provides stable heterosexual interaction supported by ethics of custom, tradition and moral rules.

Marriage and family life is an institution which today requires careful re-

examination. Marital status may be divided into three or more categories, such as:

1. those examining the living laws of the single, the married, the separated, the divorced and the widowed;

2. those examining the living laws of types of marriage, the monogamous, Polygamous, polyandrous, serial Polygamous, disparate Polygamous and triden, seophone, quadrant serial Polygamous unions;

3. those examining sexual practices of the leviratic union, woman-woman marriage, early and old age marriages, marriage on behalf of a male child and examine not only their exposure to HIV transmission and containment but also their social implications.

HIV transmission and containment Culture and Female Genital Mutilation

Kenyans are aware how strong the resistance against an attempt to eradicate FGM is. The initiation ceremonies are carried out even in light of the deaths and pains.

Culture and School drop-out

The modern cultures have no arrangement for school drop-out in the modern system of education. School drop-out compels girls to early marriages which eventually end up in divorce; or may compel them to enter Polygamous union, or with multiple sex partners; or compel them to enter into marriage with old men who will soon be dead living them widowed.

Culture and Funeral Ceremony

Funeral sacrifices and ceremonies after deaths and burials create unprecedented conditions that are contrary to the principle of development, distribution, consumption and saving. In Kenya we everyday witness a large number of people comprised of consaguinal kins and affinal relatives in the kinship network plus friends and neighbours or clan members as well as curious onlookers who come to witness the send-off of the deceased members of their community.

Among some ethnic groups, such as the Luhya, Luo, Teso, Abasuba, among others, this is the center of their religiosity (Ocholla-Ayayo, 1970, 1976; Egil 1974; Evans-Pritchard 1948/50). All the above categories of people come not only to say farewell to their departed beloved ones, but also expect to be fed for the period they are at the funeral. It has so often happened that after the funeral, the bereaved family's savings and money raised for the funeral have been used up within one week of death, children are left without school fees, no transport, no food, no money for house rent, etc (Ocholla-Ayayo, 1992:1-26; 2001:7). All these are done in the name of culture! But why can't it simply be stopped? Because culture has strong propensity to resist.

Culture and Kinship Dependency

Kinship and Affinal values is a cultural imperative still strong in most Kenya ethnic groups. In 1986 and 1987 Ocholla-Ayayo, and Aloo Obunga carried out independent studies in Nairobi and Migori respectively. Among the objectives was to find out if urbanization entails considerable socio-

cultural and socio-economic autonomy from the rural life commonly practiced by the majority African societies in the rural settings. The empirical findings of Kenyan studies were as follows:

1. Large majority of urban dwellers in the city of Nairobi and Migori town were found to be staying with kins or affines in whatever the nature of dwelling

2. Urban dwellers were found to be supporting the education of their kin or affines, regardless of their income;

3. There were no urban dweller who did not support in full or in part the education of a kin or affine;

4. Most urban dwellers have been asked to provide some assistance, either financial or material, for kin or affines;

5. Help in job placement is a common request from kin or affine, one which every urban dweller expects to receive;

6. A kin and affinal relative may be welcomed regardless of whether he or she brought a gift from home;

7. A kin or affine relative may arrive regardless of invitation to come;

8. A clan member is obliged to welcome kins regardless of social or economic status;

9. Kin or affines who come to stay for an extended period with relatives living in the urban area are coming to look for jobs, or are working but have no housing or is going to school;

10. Kinship ties are important as a social and economic security;

11. Members of the kinship group will be the most willing to collect money to transport the body of a deceased clan member, regardless of whatever financial difficulties he or she may have (Ocholla-Ayayo 1986; 2001:16-18) (Aloo Obunga 1987).

These are cultural obligations which are common and the majority of Kenyans have experienced them, some more often than occasional.

Culture and Malnutrition

The extent to which beliefs and traditional practices explain children's diseases and causes of death planners in rural Kenya, especially to nation where there is no clear cultural policies and women educational level is still low. To uneducated family, the protein-emerge malnutrition is never recognized by many mothers from traditional beliefs and practices. The symptoms of malnutrition are not perceived as having any causal connection with infant feeding practices.

From the description such as marasmus or kwashiokor, one can find that it is believed that their attacks are due to the transgression of traditional norms and practices or some are labelled as witchcraft and sorcery (Ocholla-

Ayayo 1976; 1991; 2001; Cosminsky 1985). Here again, there is enough ground for cultural policy to eradicate ignorance and unscientific traditional beliefs and practices.

Culture and Agricultural Production

The African families are suffering from "agricultural poverty". Ocholla-

Ayayo in (1979, 2001) defines agricultural poverty as the condition of continues poor harvesting or being without modern equipment necessary for high agricultural production. He refers to it as the state of helplessness, a state where human being depends on natural rainwater for survival, both human and animals simply wait for rain and do nothing to make water available for both crops and human utility.

A state where human being are no better than animals they use traditional hoes to feed the entire population. It is common to see homesteads scattered all over the fertile agricultural land, which could have been used for agricultural production. Agricultural poverty demonstrates the level of development of the African culture.

Culture and Poverty

Poverty has been referred to as living in a condition of rudimentary cultural elements, which are ineffective to exploit natural resources growing population (Ocholla-Ayayo and Ogutu 1986, 1987). Thus use of human beings, as a source of energy and the traditional African hoes for food production in the 21s1 century is an example of low cultural level of development. It also refers to lack of development ideologies necessary for fostering unity for common goals; the ideal of good life and security of survival for all and for bridging gap between traditional and modern technology of development. Cultural poverty is experienced in the society, which changes from left to right, aping on other cultural values, beliefs and ethics of customs of other societies.

It is a cultural development gap, intensifying agricultural productivity using African traditional implements such as the hoe and panga, is turning a blind eye to the function of culture, in development culture is learnt, borrowed, accumulated and transmitted from one generation to another (Novell, and Cohen 1970; Mead 1955; Kluckhon 19451948; Kroeber and Kluckhohn 1952; Keesing 1966; Hammond 1966; among others). It is now common knowledge that culture can also be a source of poverty if it remains stagnant or static for so long (Ocholla-Ayayo 1997). Culture has propensity to resist change, it may also promote development, if it is adapted as the basis for development. Culture is like unwilling donkey, however much you may push it; it would not go first if you are directing it to the wrong direction or pushing it too hard.

Culture and Cattle Rustling

One of the inter-ethnic discord that has lasted many years is cattle rustling, it takes place between pastoral communities. It is in the name of tradition and custom that a young man has to show bravery as cultural virtue by raiding for cattle. The Colonial government tried to stop it and failed and left it to Kenyatta government who in turn left the problem to Moi government who is about to hand the problem to the next government. This culture is causing a lot of deaths; displacements and poverty but a solution to it has not been found.

* Although, cattle rustling appear a static cultural beliefs and practice, Kenyans have learnt and borrowed many cultural norms, values and beliefs as well as practices from Western cultures many of which have been positive others have brought negative consequences to Kenya society.

* Kenyans have learnt that once a cultural element has been internalised in a social structure and in the people's volition, it becomes difficult to get rid of it even when the people have realized its negative effects.

* Kenyans have learnt that culture has strong propensity to resist change once it has been internalised.

* Kenyans have also felt the impact of cultural values, norms, beliefs and practices in the modern social structures; in social institutions; in religious institutions; in medical institutions; in economic institutions; in political institutions and in legal institutions even though traditional culture have never been welcomed officially in most of these institutions.

Culture and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

The percentage of the adult female population affected by this practice ranges from 98 percent in the horn of Africa, Kenya included, to only a few groups in some of the other countries. Even though many groups are working to eradicate this cultural practice (FGD) in Africa and in Kenya as well, there are often two groups of women who undergo FGM.:

* Faithful adherents to the beliefs that FGM is an inseparable part of the culture and religion of their people. Consequences of FGM are generally accepted as a price to be paid for preserving cultural integrity and heritage, and

* Those kidnapped and forced against their will to undergo the procedure for the latter group, any resultant illness may be seen as God's vengeance upon a disobedient follower and treatment may be denied such a patient.

Culture and Widow Inheritance

Many studies have established that in Sub-Saharan Africa, Kenya included, women whose husbands have died may be inherited by their deceased husband's brother or a clan member who stands in that category. He will look after her household, keep her company and even bear his children. This practice, known as levirate marriage has existed for centuries as one of the oldest marriage arrangement. Many health workers fear that widow inheritance is an important factor in spreading HIV in some African communities where the custom is still being widely being practiced. If a man has died of AIDS, he may have infected his wife before his death and she in turn risks spreading the virus, not only to the man who inherited her, but also to all other sexual partners. Widow inheritance has a strong influence on the sexual behaviour of the ethnic groups that practices it in Kenya (Okeyo 1997; Ocholla-Ayayo, 1987, 1989, 1992, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001: 17-19).

Culture and Child Up-bringing

Culture implanted norms, which used to guide the youths have suddenly eroded and authority who used to reinforce these norms and values appear to have vanished. When cultural norms and values are changed suddenly, a vacuum is created with serious consequences.

To day morality and ethnical values are not being implanted to the young generation. In 1989 studies, reports found that it is generally assumed that parents and teachers are providing necessary guidance, since young people spend most of their time under their care. The problem centres on what exactly young people are taught, since teachers do not know what parents have or have not taught and what is left for the teachers. Parents do not only assume that teachers are best equipped to teach sexuality, for example, which they rarely teach, but also spend very little time with the children. In 1989 study, Ocholla-Ayayo et al, found the majority of the youth 64.8 percent receive their sex education from friends; 15.6 percent from peer groups; 8.3 percent received their sex education from teachers and only 0.7 percent have received sex education, from the church leaders.

Cultural Breakdown

The breakdown in family, parents and community authorities over children, teenagers and the adolescents is seen as the beginning of expressed deviant behaviour, which is reflected in sexual freedom in the disputes between mothers and fathers, each side blaming the other for doing nothing when children are getting out of control (Ocholla-Ayayo et al. 1992). The transfer of traditional authority from elders to central or local government and erosion of norms and values on such issue as virginity at marriage, illegitimacy of children have removed the lifelong stigma, which they carried.

They have created a state of sexual freedom among the Kenyan youths. In 1986 a study at PSRI recorded 67% of mothers who felt that fathers have lost control and guidance over their children as head of household whereas 80% of fathers feel that mothers are the ones who have spoiled their children by either siding with the children whenever they are on the wrong, or mothers accepting gifts daughters bring home from sugar daddies.

Culture and the Family

Culture protects the family because the family is custodian of culture. The family is the basic social order in the society, the unit in which traditional norms and values, skills and knowledge as well as practices are first implanted to the young members of the society for their future survival.

Culture ensures that it is at the family level that the language of communication is implanted to the young members without which there can be no effective chances of becoming functional adults.

Culture ensures that the family as the basic economic unit maintains production, distribution and consumption for the survival chances of its infants and children, old and disabled adults. Culture ensures that the language necessary for implanting norms and values, beliefs and knowledge, and practical skills begins first at the family unit. The family is also the socio-biological unit that culture ensures its orderly reproductive continuity of human race...

The function of culture is directed towards the family level that a society experiences stresses and strains, shortages and difficulties with all practical problems of social change, and deserves more practical attention and solutions - in a culturally based

constitution COcholla-Ayayo. 2001:2).

Culture is concerned with the family as a basic social order because it is at the family level that the society feels more acutely the pain of social change and underdevelopment. It is the family, which suffers from food shortages, poor housing conditions, poor health services, lack of clean water, and poor sanitation; the family suffers nutritional deficiency, unemployment and poor living conditions.

Under kinship network, culture tries to provide social security for its unemployed members but with high dependency ratio (Ocholla-Ayayo, 1980, 1997, 2001:2-5).

Culture and Marriage

It is the culture that laid down rules, values norms, beliefs and practices in marriage institution. Culture defines different types and forms of marriages.

In Monogamous System

A culture may define marriage between two genders as exclusive, that only one man and one woman are permitted to enter into marriage relationship and have legitimate children or bring faulty sibling.

Polygamy: A culture may permit one man to marry more than one woman; and have rules or beliefs and practices, which must be followed under this union. It is the culture that specify whether a Polygamy is trident, saxophone, hypodermic or quadrant. Polygamy is a marriage social order where culture permits jealousy, envy, fights and constant opposition between and among co-wives. Children born in Polygamous homes come up to be good leaders.

Woman-Woman Marriage

A culture may permit an elderly woman without children to inherit her wealth and retain her lineage line, to act as a husband, pay dowry and gets a woman into her home and find a man to co-habit with her and bear children for her.

Exogamous Marriage

A culture may formulate a custom that define whether marriage should be endogamous or exogamous. In endogamous marriage customary rules permit an individual to marry within his or her sub-ethnic group or sub-clan provided that the partners are not directly related as first cousins. In exogamous marriage, customary rules of that culture states that all individual males or females must find their partners outside their own sub-ethnic or clan or sub-clan groups, or totemic clans.

Temporary Marriage

Some cultures, including a number of them in Kenya permit a man or a woman to enter a temporary marriage either for a specific period or open and either of the two partner can leave at will and get married to a another sometimes even to a neighbour next door. A female can move as many times as she wants so long as she is not satisfied with the husband.

Seroral Marriage

A culture may accept a man to marry sisters and have children with reason that should death occur from one of the sisters, children of the deceased will remain in safe hand.

Levirate Marriage

Many cultures in Kenya are practicing leviratic marriages. It is a custom in which a woman may be inherited or "remarried" to her late husband's brother or any one related to her late husband in that relation. In most cultures, the inherited wife is not traditionally considered as ones own wife, and the inheritor therefore must expect to marry his own real wife.

Culture and Rituals

It is the culture that define rituals, lay down their beliefs, norms and practices, as well as their significance. It is the culture that define initiations and rites and their social, political, economic and cultural significance. Initiation and puberty rites remind us of the important gap being created in the modern cultures and social development. The rites of birth and childhood introduce the child to the corporate community, but this is only the introduction. The child is passive and still has a long way to go. He/she must grow out of childhood and enter into adulthood both physically, socially and economically, as well as religiously. "Rites de passage" is to introduce the youth to adult life; they are now allowed to share in full privileges and duties of the community. The initiation rites, such as circumcision, FGM are meant to prepare young people in matters of sexual life, marriage, procreation and family responsibilities. They learn to live with one another; they learn the secrets and mysteries of man-woman relationship.

Culture and Identity

it is the culture that provide rules of identity by providing female names, and male names and meaning of these names. A culture may develop a system of naming its members. A culture may specify rules of membership to the society. A culture may ascribe or by marriage. A culture may approve or disapprove child adoption. A culture may accept orphans and integrate them in the society without discrimination.

Cultural Practices Beneficial

Although we sometime think that we have changed, that we belong to the modern civilized world; in very many ways, we are far from it. Even in the very modern medical technology, which have saved millions of lives here in Kenya, a great many people still depend on traditional healings. WHO (1997) reported that 80 percent of human population still depends on traditional healing methods other than Western modern medicine.

In Agriculture, the technology of food production and the source of energy are still dependent on traditional hoes and pangas and man and woman power. That is, we are still feeding the population with traditional cultural implements and tools. In the rural areas, a large majority of population still live on traditional housings, even though they are characterized as backward.

Kinship tie is still supporting a large unemployed population, without which our streets would be full of beggars. To day, home-care for the sick is the only alternative left as modern hospitals have run short of beds, personnel, medicine and all that use to make them modern.

Many functions of culture still form the basis for social control mechanisms even though law and order are being reinforced by the modern institution.Many acted laws have never been heard of in the rural country-

side, whereas the population know almost all the mechanisms of social control - the living law.

It is now clear that a population organized on the basis of functions of culture can exist without government enforcing modern law (the Somalia case).Culture still retains traditional languages necessary for communicating skills, knowledge, norms, values and beliefs as well as social control mechanisms to the largest population.

Culture still control family institution even though the institution is not given support it deserves. Without culture the family institution would have totally collapsed. Children are still brought up some where in the family. They are taken care with parental love and care even though poverty has limited the parent's ability to provide the children with basic needs.

In as much as culture separates a multi-cultural nation, culture also provides the basis for unity, and development if approached correctly. Culture installs a sense of belonging, and implant personality to a citizen.

Though cultural practices skills and knowledge are assembled, which individuals and society badly need. Culture accumulate skills and knowledge and pass them to the next generation through learning processes. Learning is a cultural process beneficial to society-socialization is a cultural process beneficial to the society. Since it is through socialization that norms, values and beliefs are being implanted not only to the young members but also to the adult members of a society.

Religious practices are cultural practices beneficial to the society because here ethnics and moral rules are implanted to members of the society. Religion being a cultural institution whose function is to provide hope for suffering mankind - the ultimate ends of humanity.

I have mentioned, more than one time that culture provides the mechanisms of social control, which with human being cannot live in a large collectivist. Law is, but only one specialized such institution of social control, which finds its mechanisms in culture itself. There are as many old cultural practices and new cultural practices beneficial to the society, just as there are many old and many new cultural practices that are detrimental to the society and ought to be filtered out.

Obstacles to Recognition of culture

One of the main obstacle that mitigate against recognition of culture is not knowing the scope and limit of culture; not knowing that culture is the source of ideologies; social philosophies and general theory of development.

Many people, especially the relatively learned leaders acquaint culture with dance, queer beliefs, rituals, witchcraft, traditional beliefs and such practices they may consider archaic. They look at such culture as detrimental to development. To many leaders, anything that is odd, strange or queer is labeled culture. If it is old it is culture, if it is new, it is a new culture. Whether they are ignorant of what culture is, such ignorance has no defence in the eye of the law. It is just a hangover of colonial mentality of the African ways of life called primitive African culture, to European one was called "modern system", "modern way of life", "modern living".

Anthropology as a discipline that studies culture was labeled "a science study primitive societies and their culture". And independent African states did not include it among the disciplines or subjects to be studied.

The dynamic nature of culture allows creation, learning, borrowing and transmission of cultural ideas, values, beliefs, knowledge and practical skills as well as functions. This has made culture vulnerable to erosion and rejection especially among the elite populace who ape along modern values.

Religious affiliations and secularism have assumed a common denomination in social economic and political cycles. Whereas religion has been known as a cultural product. Unlike African traditional religion, foreign religions such as Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Bahai faith have teachings which are against African cultures without supporting other functions of culture, because culture looks at the totality of social life and lays down other beliefs, norms and values for practical life as it is lived.

Migration and mobility by human beings from one region to another for various reasons. In urban affluent environs any cultural practices, values and beliefs, material culture and ideological are rural based, backward "primitive" and outlived intended purpose. Traditional herbal medicine for instance are considered dirty, unhygienic and historic in nature and space. The level of anonymity in new settlements exposes individuals to non-adherence of cultural practices as none is watching them. In cities and urban dwellings cultural activities are seen as a tool are barbaric reminiscent of dark ages. Increased migration to some level accelerates kinship disintegration and dissolution both consanguinal and affinal temporarily at times permanently leading to non-recognition of an individual's cultural rituals and practices associated with birth and death are examples among the many.


1. Cultural values that deter development should be done away with such as kinship/tribal ties in work places, politics, religious institution and other social circles.

2. Anthropology which promotes culture should be recognized as an academic discipline to enhance understanding and promotion of good, cultural practices such as cultural education system on reproductive health which is currently ignored in schools/institutions and by parents.

3. Promotion of customary law by merging the civil and customary authority in administrative units. More emphasis on rural environments where civil law is "non-existence" in practice.

* More recommendations should be based on the issues raised if well understood.

* Others will emerge from the discussions.

* For the purpose of constitutional functions of culture form the axioms principles to be considered.

* The edose and ethose systems govern the daily life of a society should be identified.

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