By Maina Kiarie
By civilisation, we mean “living in cities and towns,” the social structures (such as formal division of labour) required to maintain them as well “cultural” attributes such as enlightenment, literacy and modernisation. Here we are referring to the activities and developments precipitated by middle eastern influences beginning 2,000 years ago, the introduction of formal towns, regional legal systems, Asian and European technology.
The events in the period of the last 1,000 years transformed the coastal area of Kenya and infused it with Arabian systems and ideas. From the mid 19th century European pressures and Imperialist scrambles for resources in the yet to be exploited East African hinterland thrust hundreds of independent native communities onto a collision course with a new value system and ultimately between themselves.
The region is still reeling from the dramatic upheavals, accelerated change, overwhelming globalisation new languages, tastes, diets and increasingly the effects of rapid resource depletion, environmental and climate change.
Native traditions are pitted against a dominating free market point of view while they are still steeped in centuries old myths, taboos, age set systems and practices such as female circumcision and nomadic pastoralism.
New belief systems such as Christianity, Buddhism and even atheism jostle with pagan worship practices, shamans, and myriad cultural standards explained throughout this presentation.
There has been for the past generation an ambivalent identity crisis. There continues to be irrevocable loss of native knowledge, cultures, languages and dialects even before they are recorded and understood.
Everywhere you look, it seems somethings wrong. For those in cushy middle class neighbourhoods or lush farmlands, life has never been this good. For the majority, life is increasingly on the edge, whether you are stationed in an urban slum, a small rural plot or a forgotten community roaming the vast arid lands.
But now, for the first time, and for those with the wherewithal, there is a lot of information about those who find themselves bound to this patch of the planet. Armed with new information, we can all work together and partake the benefits of technology, real time communication and global resources in a sustainable way that ensures future generations inherit a much improved patch.