CONTINUITY AND CHANGE IN THE AFRICAN UNDERSTANDING OF VARIOUS ISSUES
- An African community consisted of the living, dead and the unborn.
- Each community had common characteristics such as common ancestors, unique language, a particular geographical area, a culture and distinct social, economic and political structure.
- Today, the understanding of community has changed due to such factors as; education, urbanization, migration, natural consciousness and religion.
- Urbanization has brought together people of different background.
- Formal education has promoted new loyalties based on new social status and academic and professional qualifications.
- New political systems and forms of Government have changed the traditional African community.
Old age and the aged
- In A.T.C, old people were well taken care of and highly respected.
- They did light duties e.g. looking after young children while others worked.
- They were members of the council of elders who settled disputes and were consulted for advice.
- The elders were custodians of community values, customs and religious beliefs.
- Today due to urbanization, many elderly people are left alone in the rural areas with no- one to take care of them.
- Sometimes they end up in homes for the aged or begging on the streets.
- - Old people are important because they have wealth of knowledge to share. We should take care of them.
- Was special and highly valued.
- It was a source of food for the people and their animals and herbs for medicine.
- Land was believed to be God given.
- Land was communal.
- - There were land allocations to each family for farming. The men were the guardians of the land.
- Land was not sold and there were no landless people.
- Today land is only communally owned in nomadic communities since most of it is individually owned.
- An individual can buy land and settle anywhere and is not bound to the ancestral land.
- Land ownership is evidenced by a little deed or land allotment letter issued by the Government.
- Today, some land is set apart by the government for public use like establishment of game parks, roads, schools, cattle dips and market places.
- Is anything owned or possessed by a person.
- In A.T.S., property could be individual or communal.
- Women and children contributed to the accumulations of wealth by working on farms and grazing cattle.
- Women and children were not allowed to own property.
- Today, property can be owned by a man/ woman/ child.
- There are various ways of acquiring wealth other than agriculture and keeping animals.
- African economies have been influenced greatly by the western money-based economies where money is seen to satisfy or fulfill all needs.
Widows and orphans
- A widow is a woman whose husband is dead.
- An orphan is a child whose both parents are dead.
- In A.T.S., a widow was inherited either by her husband’s brother or cousin to ensure that the late brother’s family would not suffer.
- A woman not only belonged to her husband but also to his kin.
- Any of his brothers takes over the household in his absence.
- The children born after his death were still referred to as his children.
- A man who inherits the wife takes over all the duties of the dead man e.g. protecting and providing for the family.
- Today the spread of HIV/AIDS has raised a lot of debate over the practice of widow inheritance.
- Due to individualism and lose family ties, it has become hard to care for members of the extended family.
- A child who lost one or both of parents in T.A.C. was easily adopted into the family.
- Orphans didn’t find it hard surviving because of the strong kinship system.
- -Widowhood or being orphaned is very painful experiences for the people today.
- Many widows have found themselves and their children going without food especially if the husband was the only provider.
- Some children have dropped out of school to take care of their siblings.
- Many orphans have ended up in the streets for lack of a caretaker.
- A number of organizations have started to build children homes or orphanages to cater for the orphans especially with HIV/AIDS.
- In TAC clothes were made from animal skin, bark, feathers, reeds/and sisal.
- Every community had a way of dressing, depending on the climate in their region and their way of life.
- Age, gender, status would always determine the type of clothing one wore.
- Ornaments i.e. bangles, necklaces, anklets and ear plugs/ rings were part of the traditional dress.
- The Maasai, Turkana and Giriama have to raid for livestock to maintain their traditional dress.
- Today dress undergoes a lot of change because fashion changes with peoples tastes.
- Today we have a national costume whose design is base on traditional costumes.
Dowry or bride price
- This is a gift of property that a groom gives to the bride’s family.
- Bride price was given in terms of cattle, goats, sheep, and honey and food stuff.
- Today, the concept of bride price has been commercialized.
- Sometimes conflicts arise between parents and those intending to marry.
- Dowry should be used appropriately to cement relationship.
- Medicine was provided by medicine people who diagnosed and treated sicknesses.
- Their medicine was in the form of herbs, minerals, powder and seeds and also spiritual.
- Today, people take the sick to hospitals for proper diagnosis and treatment by qualified medical doctors.
- Christians also offer prayers for the quick recovery of the sick.
- This is free time for one to enjoy/ spend.
- In T.A.C. leisure was integrated in the daily life of the community.
- People would work and have leisure at the same time e.g. singing while digging.
- They had leisure in form of festivals and rites which involved singing, eating, drinking and dancing.
- Some leisure activities were free of charge and mostly communal.
- Some leisure activities were specific to certain gender age group.
- Today leisure is separated from work.
- People engage in various activities e.g. listening to the radio, watching television, reading magazines or visiting friends.
- Some leisure acts today are very expensive.
- Some people misuse their leisure time abusing drugs or engaging in sexual immorality.
- Some people help the needy visit the sick, do voluntary community and church work during their leisure time.