The Broken Calabash

On twenty-sixth of December every year my community celebrates its cultural day. This is a day in which the community usually passes on the cultural values, the morals and traditions of the community to the other generation. It goes without saying that the person who abandons their culture is like a slave.The above is a common saying among the Swahili speaking people.

The Maragoli community of Western Kenya once boasted a very rich traditions among the Luhya community of the Bantu origin of Kenya. Yet at present there are forces which have eroded the traditions that what can now be seen on the ground are the pieces of a ‘broken calabash’.

The Western culture has really played a great role in eroding this culture. The youth have in many cases imitated the western culture to the extent of abandoning their own which was very rich in ensuring that the youth kept to these values.

Religion also brought some norms and morals which were not so rampant in the society. Education also made many to ape foreign culture and traditional values while abandoning theirs.

There were very many traditions that went with a departed individual in the society. These traditions ensured the ghost of the departed did not come back to haunt the family that was left behind. There were ceremonies like the ‘shaving ceremony’ which ensured the family shaved their hair and cleansed themselves against the invasion of the evil spirits from the dead member. Religion taught that the blood of Jesus was sufficient to cleanse of any evil spirits and that the old customs were barbaric.

There were also very many traditions that went with marriage. Before any man married from any family, proper investigation was done to ensure that the family did not have some traditional vices like witchcraft, wizardry and murderers among them. They also investigated for any small known relationship between the families. The families ensured that bride price was paid to seal the marriage. The newly wed bride was also tested for hard work. She could be given a very huge pot to use to fetch water in the river. Nobody was allowed to assist her to put the pot on the head. Managing only meant that she was fit for marriage. A scout was to follow and conceal herself so that the bride will not cheat.

Flour was ground between two stones usually the top smaller and could fit in the two palms and the lower one larger. The bride was given millet to ground to prove she was capable. Actually these tests made sure that girls were well taught for the task of marriage ahead of them.

Young men were also trained to fight for the community and take care of their families. Most men of today have turned into sissies.


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