Culture can be defined as the total ways of life of particular people at a given time and in a given environment.
Culture refers to the totality of ways of life of the particular people as they struggle to live and develop.
Culture refers to the sum of attitudes, customs, beliefs, values and bahaviours that distinguish one group of people from others.
- Culture includes all aspects of human life such as customs, traditions, beliefs, arts, education, technology, marriage, burial ceremonies and language.
- Culture reflects man’s efforts to master or control his environment. Therefore, whatever man creates is the result or product of culture.
ASPECTS OF CULTURE
Culture exists in two parts which include;
- Material aspect
- Intellectual aspect
Material culture refers to things or objects that can be seen or touched. It includes artifacts, buildings, furniture and transport facilities like cars.
It refers to level of instrument of labour and objects which have been made by the people technically as they struggle to get their daily needs and master their environment. E.g. furniture, clothes and production equipment.
Generally material aspects include all physical manmade objects.
Refers to achievement attained by people in education, ideas, language and literature. Intellectual aspect is expressed through intangible things such as beliefs, values songs and customs.
IMPORTANCE OF CULTURE
Why is it necessary for a country to maintain its own culture?
- Culture enables people to transmit their skills, knowledge and wisdom from one generation to another.
- Culture imparts good values in the lives of the young generation. This will help them to become responsible members of society.
- Culture acts as the identity of particular people/ society/ nation. For example we can identify the particular people through their dressing styles, language etc.
- Cultural activities enable people to utilize their resources effectively for development of the society. For example through crafts, pottery and cultivation resources like land, water and vegetation are utilized fully for individual or national development.
- Culture promotes unity and cooperation in the society. This is through language, sports and games.
- Cultural works entertain people. This is through work of art i.e. songs, plays, comedy and drama.
CHARACTERISTICS OF CULTURE
Culture is dynamic
It means that culture changes. Each culture adapts some elements of another culture that interacts with.
Such changes may be either positive or negative.
Culture has been adapting various things like architecture, language, dressing styles and even crops. For example through cultural contacts we have enriched Kiswahili with more words like radio, penseli, leso, shati, rehema etc.
These include harmful and dehumanizing habits like drug abuse, prostitution, homosexuality and undesirable dressing styles
Culture is adaptive
Culture is adapted according to the environment. For example when people move from one place to another they adopt themselves to the environment in order to cope with life in the new environment. E.g. when pastoral societies shift to agricultural societies they must adapt new life styles.
Culture is interactive
Cultures interact and affect each other. For instance the coming in of new culture (European) affected African culture
Culture is learned
ie we can learn ways of life of other people – for instance their language, beliefs and eating habits.
Culture is shared
culture is a system of shared ideas, behaviours and values.
Culture is complex as a whole
That means culture cannot be determined by a single entity.
- Such complexity is due to beliefs customs and traditional values which are in people’s feelings, beliefs and faith.
- Therefore a certain group of people cannot judge good or bad cultural practices because something may not be good in one society but in another society it may be very good.
ELEMENTS OF CULTURE
These are necessary things which are combined together to form a culture of a given society.
They are also known as indicators of culture or parts of culture. The main ones are;
These are unchangeable past experiences which have been passed down (inherited) from one generation to another.
Examples of traditions are; beliefs, marriage system, funeral ceremonies, circumcision and female genital mutilation.
These are norms of conduct in a society which can change from time to time or last shortly e.g. greetings, dressing styles, hair styles and decorations. Unlike traditions customs are changeable.
NORMS AND VALUES
Norms are accumulated experiences proved to be acceptable and appropriate to a given society and they tend to last longer before they change or disappear.
Values are established cultural values which are used to determine what is right or wrong in the society.
Norms last longer before they change.
These are skills used by man in designing and making things which are displayed or enjoyed. Arts are expressed in various ways such as arts used in making and designing tools like sculptures, graphics and decorations or art that used in language like in songs, drama, play etc.
These are real objects which express man’s culture. OR these are tangible objects and instruments which express culture through creation of things like furniture, pots, baskets and sculptures.
Is a cultural value which brings people together in performing different activities which one person could not do. E.g. marriage and burial ceremonies.
Is a cultural element which acts as the medium of communication among the people.
Ideas, feelings, knowledge and other cultural values are conveyed among the people through language.
No culture without laws. Cultures are enforced through rules of behaviour that are enforced by a special authority. Laws enforce the morals accepted in the society.
It combines the beliefs of the people. It lays down the principles and conditions to be followed by a given society.
IMPORTANCE OF ELEMENTS OF CULTURE
Norms and values shape the future generation by giving guide on what is right and wrong. This helps them to avoid bad practices and evils like drug abuse and prostitution.
Language unites people together. For example Kiswahili which unites all Tanzanians together in spite of having more than 120 tribes.
Initiation ceremonies prepare the young boys and girls to take up their responsibilities in the society as adults.
Crafts provide the household with necessary materials such as furniture, pots and baskets which are used daily.
Sports and games promote unity and cooperation among the people. This is because sports and games collect people together both in performing and watching.
Some traditions like marriage and burial ceremonies collect and bind people together in times of problems and pleasure.
Ideologies are important because they lay down rules to be followed by the whole society.
Works of Art like drama, play and comedy entertain people.
POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF CULTURAL VALUES
Our cultural practices can be classified as positive and negative.
POSITIVE ASPECTS OF CULTURAL VALUES
- Respect for the law
- Care for the young, sick and disabled
- Working hard
- Respect for others
- Active participation in civil activities
- Proper dressing according to norms of the concerned society. Young people are obliged to dress in accordance to African customs.
- Accountability and responsibility
In our societies children are taught to respect their parents and elders.
- Also every person in the society has to be treated with respect.
- Respect for the law is also very important because it helps to maintain peace and order in the society.
Care for the old, sick and disabled
This important and should be done by the whole society.
- It is the responsibility of the society to take care of them because they are product of society.
Care for the young
This is very important and should be done by the whole society.
In the past times, every adult person was a teacher and care taker of the young.
Through hard working a person is able to produce more and better goods and services for the betterment of oneself, community and the whole nation. Also it’s through working hard that the society can sustain itself.
Participation in civic activities
It is essential since it brings people together in performing different activities for the betterment of the people. E.g. building schools and road construction.
Accountability and transparency
The society should perform all its functions and duties with openness so that people know what the society is doing for them.
Also every member of society should perform his/her role effectively in order to achieve intended goals.
NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF CULTURAL VALUES
With examples from different ethnic groups in Tz discuss the social and cultural practices, which affect women and their reproductive health.
In our societies there are cultural practices which according to time and environment are considered as negative. Such include;
FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION (FGM)
This is a cultural practice that involves partial or total removal of parts of female genital organ.
FGM is violation of human rights.
Areas affected with the practice in Tanzania are Mara, Dodoma, Morogoro, Arusha and Manyara regions.
INHERITANCE OF SPOUSE
This is the process of taking one’s wife after the death of her husband.
It also violates human rights because a widow has to marry whether she likes or not.
This is the situation whereby a person gets marriage before the right age.
In Tanzania the normal suggested age is 18 years and above.
This is the situation whereby a person is forced to marry another without his/her consent.
This practice is common in African societies.
Parents practice this for various reasons like getting dowry as the source of income and even for the purpose of reducing burden of children at home.
This is the situation whereby a man gets marriage to many wives.
This can lead to the problem of street children because parents tend to have many children they cannot afford.
BELIEFS AND PRACTICES OF WITCHCRAFT
Such beliefs are bad because they can lead to conflicts hence lack of peace in the society.
Killing of albinos and elderly people is related to such beliefs.
KILLING OF TWINS AND HANDICAPPED
Some societies practice this tradition as they believe that it is bad fortune to have such people in the family or society.
This is the dowry or payment given to the bride parents by a person who intends to marry or his parents.
Bride price is a negative practice because in many African societies the bride is treated like a bought object. Therefore she is subjected to every kind of oppression.
CUSTOMS THAT LEAD TO GENDER DISCRIMINATION
Discrimination means to treat a person unequally according to given criteria.
Gender discrimination refers to unequal treatment between males and females, whereby one gender is given more priority in different opportunities.
Some of the customs which lead to gender discrimination in our societies include;
Food taboos. Food taboos are the practices of restricting a certain group of people from eating certain types of food. For example some societies prohibit pregnant women to eat eggs or fish which are essential for the growth of the baby and the health of the mother.
Discriminating women in decision – making is one of the customs that contribute to gender discrimination.
Wife battering. There are certain tribes in Tanzania which consider the beating of wives as an acceptable custom. This is not true and it’s against human rights.
There are several institutions that perpetuate gender discrimination in our society. Most important ones are the following;
In the family there is a belief that boys will propagate family lineage and support the family while girls have to get married. Therefore families prefer to educate boys or spend more money on boys than they do to girls.
For instance in initiation ceremonies girls are emphasized to be submissive to men; because of that women do not take part in decision making.
It is a common practice or belief that boys are offered science subjects while girls are made to study traditional girls subject like domestic science, cookery, typing and arts subjects. Therefore girls are not encouraged to work hard.
Even in work places women are discriminated. For instance distribution of tasks is done in favour of men while discriminating women.
Church or mosque leaders make references to the Bible or Quran on the submissive nature of women.Also women are denied opportunities to hold positions of leadership.
CUSTOMS THAT LEAD TO THE SPREAD OF HIV/AIDS AND STIs
NECTA 2009 (SCHOOL) QN. 7 “Some of traditions and customs in our culture may lead to spread of HIV/AIDS.” Justify this statement.
HIV stands for Homan Immunodeficiency Virus. AIDS stands for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome.
The following are cultural practices that lead to the spread of HIV/AIDS and STIs;
- FGM – This is because instruments used are not sterilized and are also used by the whole group being mutilated.
- Polygamy – Is the state whereby one man has many wives. Polygamy increases the risk of getting HIV/AIDS due to presence of many sexual partners (wives).
- Forced marriage – Through forced marriage a person can marry another with STIs.
- Tribal marks – These also can spread STIs through sharing of instruments used to cut those marks.
- Inheritance of widows. – This may spread HIV/AIDS from or to men who inherit them (widows)
- Some traditional dances. Some traditional dances are accompanied by alcohol drinking which can draw men and women into sexual intercourse; hence spread of STIs.
- Some local traditional midwives practices. Some local midwives who are not well trained may cause spread of HIV/AIDS from mother to new born baby.
IMPACT OF THE NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF CULTURAL VALUES
TAHOSSA 2011. Q N. 5 With examples from African culture, analyse the impact of negative cultural values.
FGM – Can lead to;
- Prolonged bleeding during and after mutilation
- Reduction of sexual pleasure during sexual intercourse
- Disturbance of natural vaginal elasticity during delivery. This is due to scar left behind after mutilation.
- Spread of sexual transmitted Infections (STIs) because the instruments used are not sterilized and are shared among the groups.
- Deaths – Due to STIs and even excessive bleeding.
Can lead to;
- Unequal distribution of power in the community.
- Women being left out in the areas of development
- Lack of spirit of competition hence poor performance in the society.
- Inferiority complex among women.
- They feel like they cannot perform great tasks.
Can lead to;
- Spread of diseases like HIV/AIDS due to sharing of sexual partners
- Conflicts in the family. For example when the wives develop the spirit of jealous among themselves
- This happens when one’s family demands more than he can afford.
- The problem of street children. This is when children lack basic needs at home. They eventually escape to streets to look for them (needs)
- Due to STIs.
May lead to;
- Spread of STIs
- Forced marriage. This is due to lack of willingness on the part of a widow.
- Violation of human rights. This because a widow is forced to a man she doesn’t like.
May lead to;
- Forced marriage
- This is because parents are the ones who decides on the marriage and not the children (partners)
- Problem during child delivery
- This is because reproductive organs are not well mature.
- Divorce – due to the fact that adolescents are not mature enough to stand the challenges of marriage life.
- Dropout from schools
- Deaths – due to delivery problems.
- Violation of human rights
- Being forced to marry a person one doesn’t like is violation of his/her right to marry.
- True love between couples may be hindered
- Conflict in the marriage and other psychological problems.
- Separation due to lack of peace and true love which are among the pillars of stable marriage.
WITCH CRAFT BELIEFS AND PRACTICES
Can lead to;
- Violation of human rights.
- For instance killing of elderly people or albinos is violation of their basic right (right to life).
- Spread of diseases like HIV/AIDSe.g. some male witchdoctors demand to have sexual intercourse with clients so that some diseases can be cured.
- Lack of peace and security.
- Killings caused by witchcraft beliefs may bar peace and security in our society.
- Conflicts in the family/society. For instance one may be informed by a witchdoctor that s/he is bewitched by their close relatives hence conflicts.
- Despise of modern medicines and reliance on witchcraft beliefs or medicines some of which do not cure.
- Unnecessary deaths of people.
This can lead to;
- Violation of human rights – women are treated like bought objects
- Forced marriage – conducted by parents after receiving bride price
- Crimes like beating women once they refuse to obey their husband’s orders.
MEASURES TO BE TAKEN AGAINST NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF CULTURAL VALUES
These ways can be discussed at two levels namely:-
- Strategies to liberate women in Tanzania.
- Strategies to liberate the whole society
STARATEGIES TO LIBERATE WOMEN IN TANZANIA
- Formation of women’s organizations. These will help them to fight for their rights collectively. Examples of these organizations are TAWLA, TGNP, and WAMA.
- The government has to ensure that women receive equal opportunities in political affairs.
- The government should strictly prohibit all cultural practices and customs that oppress women like FGM, polygamy and early marriage.
- To educate men to put off their idea that they were created superior to women.
- To establish special programmes to improve life standards of women especially in rural areas.
- To provides women with loans so that they can liberate themselves economically.
- To improve access to resources like land and other properties
STRATEGIES TO LIBERATE THE ENTIRE SOCIETY.
- To make people aware of all things which cause gender inequality
- The government should enact strict laws against those who entertain negative cultural values like forced marriage, early marriage etc.
- The government should encourage and provide good governance/leadership in the villages where problems related to negative cultural values are experienced.
PROMOTION AND PRESERVATION OF NATIONAL CULTURE
Culture is an important aspect of the society and deserves to be promoted and preserved.
ROLE OF DIFFERENT GROUPS AND INSTITUTIONS IN PROMOTING AND PRESERVING OUR CULTURAL VALUES.
Some of these groups and institutions are:-
- The National Swahili Council (BAKITA) (Established on 9th August, 1967). The main roles of the council is to promote and develop Kiswahili as the national language; and to coin new words to expand it so as to meet communication demands, to encourage cooperation with other bodies that promote Kiswahili so as to meet the goals of the ministry and to encourage schools and other educational institutions to use standard Kiswahili.
- The National Sports Council (in 1967.) The main role of the council is to develop, promote and control sports in the country.
- The National Festivals and State Celebration.
- The council facilitates celebrations of important national occasions which bring Tanzanians together as a nation.
- These national occasions are celebrated with demonstrations, songs, dances and sports and games.
Department of Museums Antiquities and National Archives. (to preserve antiquities)
- Museums – these are buildings where works of art, tradition and custom are preserved. Museums are important as attractions for tourism.
- Antiquities – are important objects that have existed for a very long time. They include remains of ancient buildings like mosques, churches and tombs.Tanzania is very rich in antiquities for example Kaole ruins ( Bagamoyo), Kilwa, Zanzibar and Mikindani.
- The National Archives. These are the places where old records are kept; e.g. books, files, letters, diaries etc. Archives possess important information which may help people to reconstruct history of the past.
National Film Censorship Board. The main role of the organ is to edit all films before they go the audience. Films are required to abide to our good values i.e. Promote our national culture. The National Arts Council (NAC). Established under National Arts Council Act No. 23 of 1984
The main roles are; to facilitate the production and consumption of good artworks and services, to promote creativity and innovativeness in the arts and to protect man – made things.
PROBLEMS FACING THE PROMOTION OF PRESERVATION OF OUR CULTURE
- Lack of written records on our cultural values. Most of or cultural values are not documented. They are transmitted orally. This may lead to disappearance of such values.
- Colonial legacy
- Because of colonial legacy many Tanzanians are not confident in creating things. They are still having mental altitude of being inferior to the white men.
- Colonial administration systems like assimilation, direct and indirect rule forced Africans to be inferior.
- Low level of science and technology
- The capacity of producing materials is doomed in Tanzania because much of technology is brought from abroad.
- Many people do not know the importance of preserving their culture. Instead they embrace foreign cultural values most of which are undesirable.
- Bad leadership. Most of leaders fail to establish concrete policy to promote national culture and for those who can do so fail to make follow up and policies remain in shelves.
- Globalisation has removed cultural boundaries existed before. This has lead to the interaction of different cultures of the world. Its then difficult to control undesirable cultural aspects
- To reduce excessive dependence of foreign science and technology
- To teach arts and crafts skills to the young generation. They will know crafts made by their forefathers, they will be able to appreciate and preserve them.
- To allocate sufficient fund in research and development of national culture.
- Forming of cultural clubs in schools or in the community which will be used in promoting our national culture.
- To impose strict rules, laws for those who despise our culture e.g. those who destroy cultural artefacts.
- To elect good leaders with cultural sense.
- Financial support is needed to protect and preserve various cultural artefacts, such as remains at Zanzibar, Kilwa, Bagamoyo etc
CULTURE OF PREVENTIVE CARE AND MAINTENANCE OF PERSONAL AND PUBLIC PROPERTY
- Preventive maintenance can be defined as the system of planning, keeping and monitoring social cultural objects in a community.
- It involves inspections followed by maintenance which is necessary to make items and properties used for a longer period.
IMPOTRANCE OF PREVENTIVE CARE AND MAINTENANCE OF PERSONAL AND PUBLIC PROPERTY
- If the property is well maintained it will last for a long period
- Increase of efficiency and effectiveness in production
- Proper maintenance of machines will increase the efficiency of machines which will increase the level of production.
- It will reduce government expenditure. Therefore the govt will focus on provision of basic social services to the people.
- Property maintenance ensures its original condition.
- It helps in avoiding road accidents. Many accidents occur due to lack of preventive care and maintenance of property like machines, cars and roads.
CONSEQUENCES OF NEGLECTING TIMELY REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE
- Damage of manmade properties like buildings and roads.
- Rampant destruction of properties may occur.
- Increase of cost of repair in long run.
- It may lead to loss of lives due to accidents.
- Increase of unnecessary government expenditure.