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INTRODUCTION TO CULTURE

INTRODUCTION TO CULTURE

 INTRODUCTION TO CULTURE| Form four topic 

Meaning of Culture

Etymologically, the term ‘culture’ is derived from a Latin word ‘colere’ which means inclination to the earth, growth and nurture? This means that, culture is creation of human beings who through their own respective societies over time in the environment they live.

Generally, the term Culture can be defined as the total ways of people’s life in a given societies at a given time. It involves all behaviors, belief, arts and institutions of population that are passed down from generation to generation. Also it may include codes of manners, dressing styles, language, religion and norms.

i.                 Culture is dynamics. Culture is not static, it change according to the environment of the time and place. This is caused by the people’s interaction from different localities.

ii.               Culture is adaptive. Culture is flexible; it can be adaptive by any person or group of people regardless of their cultural background.  A person from one place with a certain cultural practice may adapt the culture of another place.

iii.             Culture is transmissive. Cultural elements such as beliefs, values and customs can be passed from one generation to another generation. Transmission of culture may take place by imitation as well as by instruction through literature and oral tradition.

iv.              Culture is interactive. Cultures interact and affect each other. One culture can interact with other culture and can influence each other, and when interacting one may either absorb the other completely or integrate within itself.

v.               Culture is symbolic. Culture acts as a sign that identifies people’s way of life. What is produced and used by a particular society symbolizes the culture of that society.

vi.              Culture is complex. Culture is complex in the sense that, it is a system composed of different but related elements. It is not measured with a single entity, instead it is measured with varieties of elements that defines or identifies a particular culture.

Types of culture

Culture consists of two main types

i.                    Material culture

ii.                   Intellectual culture/non material culture

             I.             Material Culture

Material culture refers to the tangible or physical artifacts (objects) made by human being. They include things like spears, cooking pots, houses, coins, computer, stools, sofa sets and many others. These cultural objects reflect the nature of the society in which they were made. Material culture shows the extent to which man has achieved in mastering the nature of his environment. Such achievement include the reached in the production of instrument of labor, the technical skills developed, the scientific organization of labor, availability of everyday needs of human and many others.

             II.           Intellectual Culture/ non material culture

Intellectual culture, are intangibles or abstract creations of human society. They include things like values, belief, norms, ethics, arts, language and institutional arrangement. It is also reflected in the political ideas, civic education, legal relations, speech and behavior.

Importance of culture

i.                 Culture teaches the young people various things. It teaches the youth about various social values in the society such as languages, taboos and beliefs of the societies

ii.               Culture serves as an identity of a particular society. One society can be identified from other societies or a nation from others.

iii.             Culture helps to promote the unity among the people because some cultural values bind people together as one society

iv.              Culture exposes the younger to those tasks similar of their elders due to the training which are given to both boys and girls concerning with proper morals of their societies.

v.               Culture can serves as a means of providing people with enjoyment and entertainment through work of arts. This is done through the presence of traditional music and dances, sports and games.

Elements of culture

i.                 Tradition. This refers to the way of doing something that has existed for a long time among a particular society. This includes beliefs, customs and norms. Beliefs are strong feelings which people in a society have, and they are sometimes related to worship. Customs and norms are people’s common habit or accepted way of behavior in a society, for example, the way of giving education, cooking, eating, greeting, marriage, funeral ceremonies, courtship et

ii.               Language. This the system of communication used by community. Tanzania has more than 120 tribes with difference vernacular languages but all these tribes are unified by the Kiswahili language which is spoken in Tanzania. Kiswahili is our national language which is identified us wherever we are.

iii.             Dressing styles/clothing. The way of dressing is differs from one society to another, depending on the nature of the culture. For instance the dressing styles of the people live in coastal regions such as Tanga and Zanzibar are differ from the people live in Arusha like maasai society.

iv.             Arts and Crafts. As elements of culture, arts are expression which reflects feelings, attitude and levels of development of a given society. Arts and crafts are related to technical know-how and experience in

doing and making things. Arts can be into visual performance like sports, songs, dances and poems. Craft concerned with the making of things like sewing, pottery, basketry, sculpturing, building, drawing, etc.

v.               Values. Values are ideas that describe the correct and good that most members of the society share. Values are used by the members of the society to distinguish the desirable from undesirable, what is good and what is bad.

vi.             Ideology. Ideology is a set of ideas about the social, economic and political organization of society as a whole. It contains ideas, purpose that a society should pursue. Ideology lay down the principle and condition to be followed by the people in a given society

Importance of each elements of culture

i.            Language is used as the medium of communication between people in the societies. Also language serves as an identity of a given society

ii.          Tradition prepares the young boys and girls to make part in their responsibilities in the given societies as adult. Tradition unites people together at a time of problems and pleasure and share different ideas. For instance in the marriage ceremonies and burial ceremonies. iii. Ideology provides a guidelines to how people should live in a given place and time. Also it serves as means for self-identification for individual and group as whole. iv. Arts and Crafts. Arts help us to express our feelings, attitude and events. Crafts provide the household materials such as furniture, pots and baskets which are used daily

v. Cooperation promotes interaction of people in a given society. This help people to share various activities which contribute to fulfill the social activities such burials, wedding etc.

Positive and negative aspects of cultural values

Positive aspects of cultural values

i.                    Respect and hospitality. This refer to the polite behavior that a person has towards others, especially those who think are older or important to him or her. Children are taught how to respect their parents and elders. Every person in the society has the right to be treated with respect.

ii.                  Caring of other people and property. Among people who may need special care in the society are children, old people disabled people and sick people. It is positive cultural values to

iii.                Good and proper dressing. Proper dressing helps to maintain the person’s personality. It makes people look smart and acceptable to other members of the society. Currently, in many societies there is an increase of parent outcry over the whole issue of indecent dressing among the youth. This problem is caused by the development of globalization.

iv.                Hard working. This is another positive cultural value, certainly because through hard working, the people in the societies able to produce more and better quality goods and services in the societies

v.                  Accountability and Transparency. This refer to the situation in which a person is held responsible for a certain task assigned to him or her and he or she may be expected to give satisfactory explanation concerning that task if there is any need to do so. Transparency for the matter it means openness or without secret. vi. Honest. This refers to a state of a person being fair and trustful. It is another important cultural value that any society is supported to important to its members. If this value successfully imparted to the society, the immoral practices such as corruption and theft can less reduced.

vii. Patriotism. This refers to the situation in which one loved his or her country and he or she is ready to protect his or her country in any means. Patriotism enables the members of a given country to participate fully in the development activities in their country. Because of the love for their country, people can even be ready to die for it. viii. Participation in various civil activities. This is important in the society because it helps to bring unity and increase performance in different constructive activities for the benefit of the people.

Negative aspects of cultural practices

i.            Female Genital Mutilation. Female Genital Mutilation is a collective name which means the partial or total removal of the clitoris in the female reproductive organ (vagina). Female Genital Mutilation is a violation of basic human rights. This is practiced by some societies in Mara, Manyara, Dodoma and Morogoro regions. In Dodoma for example, 12613 out of 16789 (75%) of women who went for delivery between 1998 and 2000 were mutilated.

Reasons for FGM

Ø        To control women’s sexuality or sexual desire. Societies who practiced FGM know that, biologically, there are some organs of woman body which are very sensitive during sexual intercourse. One of them is clitoris. So to prevent a girls from developing interesting in sexuality, they are mutilated (cut off clitoris)
Ø        Promote the young girls to adult hood. FGM goes with initiation of ceremonies that promote young girls to women hood. So it considered as a prestige and a sign of maturity among girls
Ø        Beliefs of preserving the traditional culture. Some societies believe that, female genital mutilation is one among of the important African traditional culture that the societies must practice it in order to preserve their culture. So people from outside the community should not question or stop it.
Ø        Beliefs of improve women fertility. Some societies believe that, female genital mutilation develop women fertility and improves a woman’s ability to endure the pain during delivery
Ø        Beliefs of making a girl clean. Some societies practiced female genital mutilation because they believe that the young girls will be clean all the time because due to FGM, the girls could develop the sense of adult hood

Effects of FGM

Ø        Marital conflicts due to sexual dissatisfaction. This can result from two reasons, one, some men dislike the women who are mutilated. Second, circumcised women do not enjoy the sexual activity, thus they lack sexual satisfaction, so they dislike sexuality altogether.

Ø        Can lead to death. FGM can cause the death to the circumcised women and girls due to the prolonged bleeding during and after mutilation

Ø        Disturbance of the natural vaginal elasticity during delivery. Female genital mutilation disturb the vagina elasticity due to the scar left after the mutilation

Ø        Spread of HIV/AIDS. Female genital mutilation can lead to the spread of HIV/AIDS because FGM is practiced under unsafe condition. Sometimes, a single knife is used to circumcise several girls.

Ø        Circumcised women can develop feeling of anxiety and depression. Women who are mutilated develop a feeling of anxiety and depression due to the deformation of their genitalia or due to the pain they feel during circumcision.

ii.                  Inheritance of the widow/ wife inheritance. This is the process of taking the one’s wife after the death of her husband. Inheritance of the widow is done to some of the societies in Kilimanjaro region and people lived along the Lushoto and Korogwe districts in Tanga region. Inheritance of the widow can be the major problem and it is very dangerous to one’s life. A number of the people who have such tendency have been affected with HIV/AIDS

iii.                Early marriages. Early marriages are those marriages in which a person who gets married he or she does not reach the proper age of getting married. Normally, in Tanzania the suggested right age for marriage is 18 years and above. Early marriages are not required because they can lead to the increase of girls drop out from school as they get married at a tender age. This can lead to the increase in the number of people who do not know how to read and write.

iv.                Forced marriages. This is situation in which the young girls have been forced to get married to men whom they don’t want. They are forced because the parents or guardians want to reduce the burden of children at home. A girl is forced to get marriage rather than forced her to go to school.

v.                  Food taboos. There are some societies who restricted the women, especially the pregnant women to eat a certain kind of food such as eggs and fish.

vi.                Belief and practice of witchcraft. This belief may lead to the conflicts and harm in the family. This is common among some illiterate people. This has a great negative impact within the communities. vii. Killing of twins and handicapped people. In some societies, twins and other people with handicapped such as albinism were being killed due to the belief that having such people in the family or society was a curse from God and if such people are left, the societies will be facing misfortune.

Impacts of negative cultural practices

i.                 Spread of sexual diseases. Some of negative cultural practices can lead to the spread of HIV/AIDS and other STD’s due to the actions such as reckless sexual behaviors, FGM etc. So the government put the measures to eliminate these cultural practices in order to protects the communities from being infected with these diseases.

ii.               Can lead the death to the women. Some of the negative cultural practices such as FGM can lead to death to the girls and women due to prolonged bleeding. Also inheritance of  widow may lead to the death due to the infection of sexual diseases like HIV/AIDS

iii.             Can lead to the social conflicts among the people. Some of the negative cultural practices may lead to the various domestic conflicts due to the wife beating, forced marriages and finally divorce

iv.              Increase of illiterate people especially to the girls. Some the negative social cultural practices such as early marriage may increase the possibility of high rate of illiteracy due to the young girls forced to get marriage and drop out from schools.

v.               Violation of human rights. The government put measures to eliminate negative social cultural practices in order to protect the human rights because, some of these cultural practices such as early marriages, FGM and payment of dowry violate human rights to women who are sometimes treated as the bought objects.

Measures to be taken against negative aspects of our culture

i. Provision of mass education. Mass education must be provided to the people on the negative impacts of the negative cultural values. ii. Improving women access to resources. There must be the existence of necessary effort to improve the women access to resources such as land, cattle and forms of properties

iii. Enacting the strict laws. The government should enact the laws for those who entertain negative aspects of our cultural values iv. Provision of guidance and counseling. Guidance and counseling must be provided to the young people so as to avoid the practice of bad social cultural values.

v. There should be proper child care and upbringing. The parents and guardians must ensure proper child care and upbringing in order to avoid the harmful cultural practices that affect the children

Reasons for prohibiting negative cultural practices

i.                 Protection against sexual diseases. Some of negative cultural practices can lead to the spread of HIV/AIDS and other STD’s due to the actions such as reckless sexual behaviors, FGM etc. So the government put the measures to eliminate these cultural practices in order to protects the communities from being infected with these diseases.

ii.               To protect the women from death. Some of the negative cultural practices such as FGM can lead to death to the girls and women due to prolonged bleeding. Also inheritance of  widow may lead to the death due to the infection of sexual diseases like HIV/AIDS

iii.             To reduce social conflicts among the people. Some of the negative cultural practices may lead to the various domestic conflicts due to the wife beating, forced marriages and finally divorce

iv.              To retain the access of education to the girls. Some the negative social cultural practices such as early marriage may increase the possibility of high rate of illiteracy due to the young girls forced to get marriage and drop out from schools.

v.               To protect the human rights. The government put measures to eliminate negative social cultural practices in order to protect the human rights because, some of these cultural practices such as early marriages, FGM and payment of dowry violate human rights to women who are sometimes treated as the bought objects.

Culture and gender discrimination in the societies

Gender discrimination is the situation in which one kind of sex is denied its rights and opportunities because of his or her sex category. Gender discrimination involves the bad treatment and denied one’s opportunity in the community. For instance, some societies denied the right to get education to the girls and preferred the boys to get education. The girls are prepared to get married, some they are forced to be married with the husband whom they don’t want.

Customs which lead to gender discrimination

i.                 Patriarchal societies. These are societies in which all aspects are run by men. In this, only men are the decision makers and holder of the power over the women.

ii.               Excluding women from decision making in social, political and economic matters as well as in a family level.

iii.             Payment of bride price. Some people considered that, payment of dowry is like buying of that girl or woman, thus the women were put under the control of men.

iv.              Denial of the right to property. In some societies, the girls and women are not allowed to own the properties or to inherit any property such as land, cattle and houses after the death of their parents

v.               Initiation of ceremonies. Initiation of ceremonies including jando and unyago for boys and girls. In these ceremonies base the teachings provided to boys are quite different from those given to girls. For example among other things taught to boys is educate them how to exhibit masculine behavior such as dominance, confidence, strength and competition while, girls are taught to exhibit feminine behavior such as submission, caring, sensitivity.

Customs and practices which lead to the spread of STDs and HIV/AIDS

            i. Female Genital Mutilation (women circumcision). FGM can lead to the spread of HIV/AIDS

because the instruments used are not sterilized and are used by the whole group being circumcised

ii.               Cutting tribal marks. Some tribes cut the tribal marks on the parts of the body of their members such as kids that they want to shed off the dirty blood. This is dangerous because one knife can cut several members of the society

iii.             Inheritance of the widow (wife inheritance). This can lead to the spread of HIV/AIDS and sexual transmitted diseases. This practice is very risky for both a man and woman who is inherited because, if one of them is infected with HIV or STD’s it can be easily transmitted to his or her partner.

iv.             Traditional dances. Also in some societies, certain traditional dances are accompanied by drinking alcohol. This is dangerous because it can draw both men and women to engage in reckless and unsafe sexual intercourse

v.               Local traditional midwives. In some societies especially in rural areas, the women who undergo delivery they meet with the midwives who are not well trained. This may lead to the spread of HIV/AIDS to both mother and a newly-baby born due to the using unsterilized instruments.

Culture and Reproductive health

Meaning of reproductive health

Reproductive health is the health which is required by the people especially women in order to ensure safety in the reproduction. Culture has great influence on sexual and reproductive health. This is due to the fact that, the cultural practices shape sexual behaviors and reproductive health in a given society.

Factors that Improve Reproductive Health

i.                           Attending maternal clinics. In order for a woman to improve her reproductive health, she must attend the maternal clinics every month. This will ensure the improvement of her health and her baby

ii.                         Proper birth control. A woman is required to have proper birth control in order to reduce bearing of many children within a short time.

iii.             Prohibiting negative cultural practices that undermine women health. There must be taken the

necessary measures to abolish negative cultural practices that undermine the health of the women like forbidden the pregnant women to eat certain type of food such as goat meat, eggs and fish and FGM

iv.                         Protecting women against domestic maltreatment. The women must be protected from the domestic maltreatment from their husband. Maltreatment of women cause physical injuries and psychological hopeless to the women

v.                           Proper using the modern family planning methods. Modern family planning methods must be used in proper ways in order to avoid the diseases that may result from these methods.

Cultural Practices that Affects Reproductive Health

i.                 Women circumcision. Women circumcision affects the reproductive health of a woman because it disturbs the vagina elasticity during delivery due to the scars left behind after circumcision.

ii.               Early marriages. Early marriages affect reproductive health to a girl because it brings complication during delivery due to the immaturity of the reproductive organs such as hips.

iii.             Food taboos. Food taboos affect reproductive health to a woman because some societies deny women to eat certain kind of food such as fish and eggs. This may cause poor nutrition to a woman which lead to a poor health.

iv.              Wife beating. In some of the societies, wife beating is a part of traditional culture. Wife beating may cause physical injuries to a women which may cause poor health

v.               Wife inheritance. Inheritance of a widow affects the reproductive health of a woman. This contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS as a result affect women during pregnancy and delivery

  A dvantages of having reproductive health education

i.                 Prevention of sexual diseases. The knowledge of the reproductive health helps in prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies to the women

ii.               Promotion of gender rights and equality. Reproductive health education promotes the gender rights and equality between male and female especially in the reproduction matters.

iii.             Improvement the health of women. The knowledge of reproductive health improve the health of women’s safety during pregnancy and during delivery

iv.              Regulating women’s fertility. Reproductive health knowledge enable a woman to be capable in producing offspring and retain the condition of being fertile in reproductive system

v.               Prevention of major child diseases. The reproductive health education helps a mother to identify the major child diseases which affect the babies. This will decreases infant mortality rate in the country.

Impacts of neglecting reproductive health education

i.                 Infection of sexual diseases. The lack of the knowledge of the reproductive health may lead to infection of sexually transmitted diseases among the women in a community

ii.               Demotion of gender rights and equality. Lack of the reproductive health education demotes the gender rights and equality between male and female especially in the reproduction matters.

iii.             Deterioration the health of women. The lack of knowledge of reproductive health lead to the decline of the health of women’s safety during pregnancy and during delivery

iv.              Decrease women’s fertility. Neglecting the reproductive health knowledge decrease the capability of a woman in producing offspring and retain the condition of being fertile in reproductive system

v.               Failure to prevent major child diseases. Neglecting the reproductive health education decrease the ability of a mother to identify the major child diseases which affect the babies. This will increases infant mortality rate in the country.

 

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