POSITIVE NASILIAN CULTURE/TRADITIONS
Culture refers to the customs, habits and behaviors that characterize a society's, community's or nation's way of life. On the other hand, traditions form part of the culture of a people and are handed down from one generation to the next.
Positive aspects of culture in Nasila are important in holding people together. There are many aspects of Nasilian culture which are positive. The songs the young people and children sing during Ole Kaelo's homecoming ceremony attest to the rich Maa culture. The narrator says, "From the children's performance, it was evident that the cherished Nasilian traditional dance would stand the test of time." (p.44). The writer says that the party was full of pomp and gaiety. This is brought out by jewelry won by the guests such as ivory, beads, coloured lesos, kangas and shukas (p.47), all attesting to the rich cultural heritage of the Maa. Generosity as a virtue is seen in Simiren who invites all those present in the party to savor his brother's lavish hospitality (p.46). Food and drinks are served in generous measures to all those present (p.47). Ole Musanka, an elder who blesses Ole Kaelo's home, glorifies Maa's culture saying that it was the blood and marrow that gave sustenance to the body" (p.51). According to him, home is Maa, Nasila, family and children (p.52). His only problem is that he supports FGM, a cultural practice that does not assist women in any way.
When Resian and Taiyo go to stay at their uncle's place for some time, they witness some positive aspects of communal life and unity at their uncle's home. We are toldthat, "Life and work in that home was communal. Although each mother had her own house and cooked her own food, all grown up daughters helped each one of them" (p.148). There is well laid down chain of command with the first wife being the deputy to their uncle. There are hardly any disagreements and virtues of selflessness and sharing are emphasized (p.149). When Ole Kaelo's daughters are assaulted by two men, the communal way of life comes in handy. All Ilmolelian men join him in pursuing the men and meting punishment on them. He is not left alone to deal with the matter. During Ole Kaelo's homecoming ceremony, young men and women from the clan work together to make the day successful. Ole Kaelo is touched after discovering that brotherhood, honour and selflessness still existed in Nasila and this makes him swear that he would never abandon the culture of his people or live outside his clan (p.40).
Nasila culture clearly defined relationships. "The founder had intended that the culture would regulate the lives of the people...It charted out the way for everyone, from cradle to the grave. It defined relationships, it created laws that governed the ownership of property and settled disputes. It did not discriminate, it did not favour anyone over the other, it gave everyone a chance to live a full life; it protected everyone within its confines and provided cleansing procedures for those who defiled it. It was simply a cherished way of life for all the Maa people (p.118).
Mama Milanoi appreciates Nasila culture which spares her nephew from death. She "...began to see the wisdom of the Maa founder who ensured that justice was always tempered with mercy" (p.163). According to Nasila culture, if a man sought refuge between the legs of an old man, he was to be spared despite the crime committed (p.162). Anybody who violates cultural values of Nasila culture is faced with laid down punishment. Both Ntara Muyo and Lante who had attempted to rape Resian and Taiyo are forced to pay fines to the girls and their father and somehow, justice is done. "The two boys had been fined two heifers each" and Ntara Muyo "...an extra heifer to cover the shame that he had occasioned by accosting his own sister" (p.164). Mama Milanoi also reminisces the old aspect of her culture which gave room for mass action in case somebody misbehaved and went against the expected conduct. A case in point is where an old man got infatuated by a girl of fourteen years. When women realized it,they attacked the man, stripped him naked and beat him up to death. That served as a detractor to any other man who would harbor such intentions. Mama Milanoi wonders where such good aspects of Nasila culture had gone for they would shield her daughter from being forced to marry an old man like Oloisudori (pp.115-117).
A girl was always protected from men with evil intentions. Girls were kept away from male visitors in their homes and there was hardly any interaction between fathers and daughters (p.175). The rich Maa culture has different types of love. There is elangatare where boys did anything possible to win girls' admiration (p.124). The elangatare love included feats by boys such as killing lions and defending people and their cattle from their enemies. There is also patureishi type of love where a girl and a boy were allowed to have a love affair alongside the conventional love. Such boys were the darlings of the girls and a song of praise would be composed by the girlfriend in praise of the valorous deeds of her boyfriend (pp.124-125). This relationship ended in marriage after a marriage ceremony. On the other hand, the patureishi did not end in marriage. It was meant to check the conduct and behavior of young people and keep them disciplined (p.126).