Aspects of African Culture





Aspects of African Culture

In her book “The Last Camel: the stories of Somalia,” Jeanne D’Haem explores how culture influences the way people see the world. In chapter 24, “The Promise,” Jeanne explores how Somali women view the world. As the character in this chapter highlights, Somali women see the world through their experiences. For instance, it is not uncommon for Somali women to enter arranged marriages. Arranged marriages are a form of cultural practice, and they are widely used among the Somali people. While the girls expected to get married through this means may not be happy, the experiences of the married women around them show that couples in arranged marriages can learn to love each other. Positive experiences of women married through this cultural practice encourage Somali girls to accept this form of marriage (D’Haem, 116). Elders plan arranged marriages, and it is expected that younger generations respect and obey their elders. While arranged marriages can have positive outcomes, the act of infibulation is a harmful cultural practice. As highlighted in the story, older women in Somalia are not opposed to this practice, a factor that endangers the lives of girls (D’Haem, 117).

The interpretation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet by the Tiv of West Africa shows how culture influences what is viewed as right or wrong. As Laura Bohannan tells the elders of this tribe the story of Hamlet, it is apparent that her view on the story is different from the elders’ views. For instance, the elders showed disbelief that a child could scold their parent, a parent could lie to their child, and a child could turn against their parent or guardian. These points indicate a cultural hierarchy system in which younger individuals obey their elders (Bohannon, 299). The points also reveal how close-knit family members are in the Tiv culture hence the disbelief that relatives could turn against each other.

Prince Hamlet in Africa and The Last Camel: the stories of Somalia reveal the respect accorded to elders in African cultures. Based on the readings, African cultures place great importance on one’s age, with elders in the society being shown respect and obedience by younger individuals (Idang, 117). The readings also show the importance of family relations in African cultures. Much like the required respect for elders, African cultures place great importance on family ties and each family member’s duties. For instance, both readings show the expectation that parents cannot lie to their children while children cannot rise against their parents.

Modern-day culture excludes people as they age. General attitudes toward older people are often negative, and it is caused by the justification of devaluing older based on the premise of age. However, the African culture is different as it values its elderly and accords them respect. As highlighted in Prince Hamlet in Africa, the elderly can teach people a lot as they have lived longer and have life experiences. The wisdom and knowledge that they can share can help people better deal with various forms of life challenges. All people grow older with time. Therefore, it is only natural that society learns to respect and take care of its elderly as everyone is bound to get to that stage.

Works Cited

Bohannon, Laura. “Prince Hamlet in Africa.” (1970): 293-299.

D’Haem, Jeanne. “The Last Camel: True Stories about Somalia.” Red Sea Press, (1997): 116-118.

Idang, Gabriel E. “African culture and values.” Phronimon 16.2 (2015): 97-111.