Countless times, I have met people who arrogantly maintain that in their culture they do not engage in certain activities. Inevitably, some of those cultural practices that they so much respect are dangerous, unnecessary and uncouth not only to individuals but also to society. For example, female genital mutilation is still practiced in some communities. Burying the dead seated is another cringe-worthy culture to note.
A huge red flag and a tired topic of discussion on bad cultures is gender inequality especially in communities such as mine. Being born a Lembus (sub-tribe of Tugen, Kalenjin) can be a blessing in disguise. Our male counterparts are responsible and hardworking men. However, they should stop calling women children. It is normal for Kalenjin men to refer to their wives and kids as children, claiming they are all responsible for their needs. It is so demeaning and archaic to put a grown up woman at such a level, considering that bearing children alone for these men proves my point.
Additionally, most traditional cultures teach respect towards the elderly. But practices such as forcing women to kneel while serving their men, not shaking hands with their husbands or men for reasons that they are way superior to women, is disgusting. It is idol worship.
Naming ceremonies are other cultural practices that have proven to be harmful. While naming a new born has for long been considered a happy event to welcome the child to the family, it is consequential too. Naming ceremonies are considered great ways to name children after the dead to ensure that their memories live on. In religions like Christianity, especially among Catholics, it is called Christening where infants are safely prayed for and given biblical names.
Traditionally in some cultures, a name was given by a group of elders and an extended family by performing rituals, chanting names of dead people and when the child sneezed upon mentioning a certain name, then that meant the child accepted that name. It is evident that a lot of people have suffered by inheriting things they knew nothing about including generational curses like poverty, alcoholism and rejection. Names like Maiyo (Maiyek) in Kalenjin means alcohol. For sure, I do not know an individual named Maiyo who does not take alcohol.
Marriage is beautiful. However, it is not always a bed of roses. In some marriages, the thorns are too many. Many marriages fail as a result of domestic violence, chronic illnesses, sexual violence, infidelity etc. Parents and guardians of couples going through such should never force them to stay in toxic relationships. The culture of forcing people to stay in bad marriages should become a thing of the past. It is actually better to be single and happy than stick to a toxic marriage or relationships that could lead to premature death.
Death is inevitable. Losing a loved one can be devastating but what is more painful to hear during funerals is two-faced eulogies. It is on the day of your burial that people will pretend to know you. They will post pictures of you on the Internet claiming how they wish you were still around, yet their absence was too loud while you were alive.
I understand that people want to give their last respects to the dead but suggest the deceased’s bad traits be mentioned followed by the good ones. If they were thieves or murderers that should be noted. Besides, it is pointless to pretend that the deceased was so much loved for their deeds, yet they spent most of their lives hurting people.
Lastly, the culture of discriminating against mental health issues is mushrooming. It seems in these tough economic times, more Kenyans are sinking fast into depression. While it can be hard to spot a mentally ill person, despising them upon discovery of their illness should be the last thing to do. Let us learn to focus on cultural practices that lead to steady progress in life.
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