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BLOSSOMS OF THE SAVANNA:
Themes

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NEGATIVE CULTURE/TRADITIONS

Negative aspects of culture in Nasila are strongly opposed by the young generation. To them, such practices should be shunned because they have outlived their usefulness in a society that is slowly but surely embracing modernity and civilization.

Female Genital Mutilation (F.G.M) is an outdated cultural practice that has no standing in the changing Nasila. To those that support it, it is meant to tame a wild gender just as cattle that require to be dehorned (p.22). When it was discovered several years back, it was to find a lasting solution to the exploitation of the Maa women by the Ilarinkon warriors. "...that gave birth to enkamuratani (the female circumciser). And her Olmurunya was shaped, sharpened and handed to her" (p.87). Mama Milanoi also affirms the origin of this cultural practice saying, "It was the shame and anger that was provoked by Ilarinkon taunts, lewd teasing and provocative posturing that made the women do what they did to curtail those desires the worthless predators exploited to prey upon them" (p.90).

Resian is very much opposed to this retrogressive practice. She says, "I would rather live in the noisiest place on earth, than live anywhere near a vagabond who would accost me...with the intention of mutilating my sexuality (p.33). At this early point, she makes her stand clear that she is opposed to the practice that disfigures and damages female sexuality. She is bitter and has pain in her heart due to threats of undergoing F.G.M. The olmurunya, the instrument used to conduct is scary. The writer reveals that it "...was a bladelike tool shaped like a smoothing plane blade" and the enkamuratani "showed the way she went about her profession of transforming young girls into young women through the cut of olmurunya" (p.58). She wonders what the use of F.G.M in today's woman is (p.90). She observes that the practice is being fueled by men who use it to continue oppressing women. "...one of their ways of oppressing us is to demand that F.G.M be perpetuated against us forever" (p.91). The enkoiboni, mother to Olarinkoi tells Resian, "As soon as we clip that erogenous salacity from you that destroys homes, you will become a respected woman..." (p.229). This was not the original reason why F.G.M was invented but the practice has been maintained to purportedly keep women faithful.

F.G.M is so highly regarded that no girl would get married before getting circumcised. Such a girl was derogatorily referred to as entaapai and her family was not spared ridicule. To make matters worse, if she got pregnant, she would be circumcised at birth and married off to the oldest man in the village (p.63). According to enkoiboni, no mother would want an uncircumcised girl as a wife for her son (p.235). This would prevent any other girl from doing such a thing. Circumcising the girl at birth is painful, dehumanizing and traumatizing. Joseph Parmuat opines that negative aspects of culture such as throwing the dead and the dying to hyenas or abandoning the old and very sick in deserted homesteads to be eaten by wild animals have already been expunged from Nasila culture (p.128). Resian is optimistic that soon, Nasila culture would do away with F.G.M as a cultural practice. Minik cites horrible and outdated cultural practice such as emuata that forced young brides to wear heavy copper around their limbs, legs, arms to make them beautiful and which had been discarded hence freeing women from pain. She opines that even girl child circumcision should be discarded for it has outlived its usefulness (p.263).

Sexism refers to preference given to either the male or the female gender child. It is an outdated tradition that is still embraced by individuals such as Ole Kaelo. We are told that he wanted at least three boys but instead gets two girls. This shows his preference for boys. When his wife gets pregnant again, he hopes for a boy who would carry his name to the next generation but instead, he gets a girl that he lives to loathe (p.10, 174).

The communal way of life in Nasila and clanship system also has negative effects. Its major negative effect is that it offered no privacy to those who needed it. Taiyo and Resian realize that in Nasila, home belonged to all members of the clan. We are told "It was not an unusual thing to get up in the morning to find the living room full of men and women who came that early...to share a sumptuous breakfast with their kith and kin" (p.35). Some intrude their homes even without being invited (65). Although they adjust to such a negative aspect of culture, it still remains a bad aspect of culture for it interferes with their privacy.

Taiyo is unhappy with the tradition that disallows marriage of young people from the same clan, however remotely related they are. According to Nasila culture, if such people married, there would be untold consequences (p.49). ) Taiyo finds this as a "gross unfairness of the outdated culture" and "a searing torment to her and to all others who were of progressive minds" (p.56). Joseph fears going against that tradition because he would be castigated and punished for doing such a thing. He would also be forced to pay cattle to Ole Kaelo as compensation and undergo a demeaning cleansing ceremony as well as a public rebuke (p.123). On the contrary, according to Taiyo, culture and traditions are never static but are dynamic in that culture "...shades off aspects that become irrelevant with time" (p.127). She cites F.G.M and the clan system that prevents people from the same clan from marrying (p.128). She observes that such practices should "...have disappeared at the turn of the last century" (p.128).

Another aspect of culture that Resian and Taiyo condemn is the practice of booking unborn baby girls (p.129). This denies women a chance to choose their marriage partners based on love but not what is dictated upon them by their parents. Apart from booking unborn baby girls, young women are also subjected to early marriages. Resian and Taiyo are the best cases in point. Ole Kaelo forces Resian to marry Oloisudori, his business friend against her expectations. She undergoes several challenges in order to overcome this plan. When she escapes from Oloisudori's net, she is subjected to another forced marriage to Olarinkoi but she also escapes it. Taiyo is also not spared the practice. She is forcefully circumcised in order to be handed over to Oloisudori as a wife, although she is rescued by Minik.

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