The Mijikenda culture is slowly losing popularity as many youths shy away from practicing it.
Kaya chonyi elder Mwabaya Mbura has said westernization has eroded many cultural rites among the Mijikenda communities.
Speaking at Dzitsoni, Mbura said many youths among the Mijikenda have little knowledge of their culture and urged the government to integrate culture into the school curriculum.
“We have our ways of celebrating childbirth and every step in the life of a human being. The way we used to bless and name a baby is not the same. When a child is born, we used to take him to the door of the father’s house, and the grandfather would hold the ear of the baby and give the name. Nowadays, babies are taken to church, which is not part of our culture,” he said
The elder, who is also a traditional herbalist, said even the dress code has changed.
“Right now, if you put on traditional attire, the youth will brand you as a wizard. This has led to eroded morals among our youth. If they can be sensitized to embrace our culture, then the rate of disobedience among our youth would be addressed,” he added
Lydia Tsuma, an elder from the Chonyi community, said most youths have no idea how traditional foods are prepared, let alone eating them.
Tsuma said many youths are susceptible to life-threatening diseases because of their poor feeding habits.
“Most traditional foods are organically grown and very healthy. Some of the foods we used to eat have medicinal value; hence, we never used to get sick easily. Traditional foods are not processed and that is the reason they contain al the needed nutrients,” she said
She also blamed western cultures for the cultural degradation among the Mijikenda.
“Look at how we dress traditionally and how the youth dress. They put on tight clothes and very short ones. This has been a challenge and one of the causes of increased rape and defilement cases,” she added
Former Bahari MP Mtana Lewa called for legislation in both national and county assemblies to preserve cultures.
Mtana said that already, as the Chonyi community, they have come up with a program to plant indigenous trees in schools and also teach students about their cultures.
“We want to impact the knowledge we have on the young generation. We have a duty to make sure this knowledge is passed from generation to generation. We want them to know about our food, dance and dressing,” he said
Chonyi DCC Robert Yese called on the community to make sure they embrace their culture to protect their identity.
Yese said, not all cultural practices are bad.
“The government has set aside Utamaduni Day to celebrate the diversity in our cultures. Lets take time to reflect how our forefathers used to live and use that to guide our children,” he said