The culture of "silent sexuality" amongst the Shambala of Tanzania : towards an intercultural approach in the pastoral ministry

Shemsanga, Eberhardt Ngugi (2013-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This dissertation aims at discussing the influence of two eminent trends on African culture: modernity and globalization with special reference to the culture of silent sexuality as understood and practiced by the Shambala of Tanzania. It is based on secondary data collected through review of studies, reports, policy documents and surveys from various data sets from national, regional and international organizations. The two trends have not only transported the good side of the economic and social development across the globe and connected people from different cultures or nations in the world, but have also changed the culture of host communities. For example, the change from collectivism social structure that characterizes African society to individualism social structure that characterises the market-oriented culture of western society. This change indicates that without doubt “globalization and modernity are the most important and developed theories of the twentieth century” (Ritzer 2008:230). The process of globalization for example allows two different cultures to either coexist or create a dynamic or transformation to a new and third type of culture, one to be absorbed by the other. If the new incoming culture dominates local culture to absorb it, it sources a conflict between the two cultures, in this case the conflict between the culture of silent sexuality and the western culture, popularly termed by Mankiw (2007:12) as “cultural westernization”. The trend of cultural westernization of Africa has become very pervasive and prevalent, such that Western civilization has taken precedence over African values and culture and the latter are regarded as inferior to the former. As with other societies and cultures in the developing countries, the impact of western civilization on Africa has occasioned a discontinuity in forms of life throughout the continent. This has led to a cultural dualism that often presents itself as a real dilemma in concrete, real-life situations. In other words, the African experience of modernity and globalization is fraught with tensions at every level of the communal and social settings. The post-independence Africa is confronted with how to have a true identity, a new culture that is African in nature. Before the era of globalization there existed local, autonomous, distinct and well-defined, robust and culturally sustaining connections between geographical place and cultural experience. These connections constituted one’s community “cultural identity”. This identity was something people simply had as an undisturbed existential possession, an inheritance, a benefit of traditional long dwelling, of continuity with the past. Identity, then, like language, and other cultural practices, for instance the culture of silent sexuality, were not just descriptions of cultural belonging, they were collective treasures of local communities. But they were also discovered to be something fragile that needed protecting and preserving that could be lost, due to foreign influences. According to Ritzer (2008:231), into this world of diverse, discrete, but to various degrees vulnerable cultural identities there suddenly burst (apparently around the middle of the 1980s) the corrosive power of globalization which has swept like a flood tide through the world’s diverse cultures, destroying stable localities, displacing peoples, bringing a market-driven, “branded” homogenization of cultural experience, thus obliterating the differences between locality-defined cultures which had constituted people’s identities. The Shambala culture of silent sexuality prior to modernity and globalization was aimed at preserving dignity and courtesy in the society. It maintained peace, created a harmonious environment for all people, and stabilized the moral standards of the entire community. Silent sexuality was also connected to the religious meaning of sacredness. Specifically, sex and sexuality were considered sacred and should be abused under no circumstances. The Shambala believed that sexuality was part of life itself; it was liable, by the same token, to be extremely destructive of life if mishandled. Sexual taboos helped to maintain a stable social structure by defining social relationships among members of the family, for example, husband-wife, father-daughter, and mother-son relationships. However, some members of the Shambala society have embraced modernity and globalization which have influenced their traditional sexuality. Sex, to them, is no longer a private matter, and they undermine traditional customs and taboos by regarding them as uncivilized and savage. The result shows that there are many sex related problems which have surfaced among the Shambala, such as unwanted teenage pregnancy, school dropout due to pregnancy and/or early marriage, abortion, rape, child prostitution and other factors. The research findings could serve as a call to the Shambala, the Church and the state to work together to find lasting solutions for the detrimental consequences of recent changes in patterns of sexuality among the Shambala and Tanzanians in general to ratify a gender based anti-violence bill that will be cherished in the constitution to guard women and girls from all forms of sexual violence and create public awareness of the privileges and dignity of women and children.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie proefskrif stel dit ten doel om die invloed van twee opkomende neigings, moderniteit en globalisering, op Afrika-kultuur te ondersoek, met spesiale verwysing na die kultuur van stille seksualiteit soos dit verstaan en beoefen word deur die Shambala van Tanzanië. Dit is gebaseer op sekondêre data versamel deur 'n verkenning van studies, verslae, beleidsdokumente en oorsigstudies vanuit verskeie data-gegewens uit nasionale, streek- en internasionale organisasies. Die twee neigings het nie alleen die positiewe sy van die ekonomiese en sosiale ontwikkeling dwarsoor die aardbol uitgebrei en mense uit verskillende kulture of nasies in die wêreld met mekaar in verbinding gebring nie, maar het ook verandering ingebring in die kultuur van gasheer-gemeenskappe. Byvoorbeeld, die verandering vanaf die kollektivistiese sosiale struktuur wat Afrika-samelewings kenmerk, na die individualistiese sosiale struktuur wat die mark-georiënteerde kultuur van westerse samelewings kenmerk. Hierdie verandering behels sonder twyfel dat “globalisering en moderniteit die belangrikste en mees ontwikkelde teorieë van die twintigste eeu is” (Ritzer 2008:230). Die proses van globalisering, byvoorbeeld, laat twee verskillende kulture óf saam bestaan, óf skep 'n dinamiek wat transformeer tot 'n nuwe en derde tipe kultuur, een wat deur die ander geabsorbeer word. Indien die nuwe inkomende kultuur die plaaslike een domineer of dit absorbeer, stig dit 'n konflik tussen die twee kulture, in hierdie geval, die konflik tussen die kultuur van stille seksualiteit en die westerse kultuur, algemeen deur Mankiw (2007:12) genoem “kulturele verwestersing”. Die neiging van kulturele verwestersing van Afrika het deurdringend en oorwegend geword, sodat Westerse beskawing voorrang geniet bo Afrika-waardes en –kultuur, en laasgenoemde beskou word as minderwaardig aan eersgenoemde. Soos met ander samelewings en kulture in die ontwikkelende lande, het die impak van die westerse beskawing op Afrika 'n diskontinuïteit teweeggebring in lewensvorms dwarsoor die kontinent. Dit het gelei tot 'n kulturele dualisme wat homself dikwels poneer as 'n werklike dilemma in konkrete, daaglikse lewenssituasies. Met ander woorde, die Afrika-ervaring van moderniteit en globalisering is deurtrek met spanning op elke vlak van die kommunale en sosiale kontaksituasies. Die post-onafhaklikheid-Afrika word gekonfronteer met hoe om 'n ware identiteit te hê, 'n nuwe kultuur wat wesentlik dié van Afrika is. Voor die tydperk van globalisering was daar 'n plaaslike, outonome, afgebakende en robuuste kultureel-gehandhaafde verbintenisse tussen geografiese plek en kulturele ervaring. Hierdie verbintenisse het gemeenskappe se “kulturele identiteit” onderlê. So 'n identiteit het voorgevloei uit 'n onverstoorde eksistensiële besitting, 'n erfenis, 'n voordeel van lang tradisionele lewe, van kontinuïteit met die verlede. Identiteit, dus, soos taal en ander kulturele praktyke; die kultuur van stille seksualiteit is nie slegs beskrywend van kulturele eiendom nie, maar vorm 'n soort kollektiewe skat van plaaslike gemeenskappe. Terselfdertyd is hulle broos en verdien om behou en beskerm te word teen verlies as gevolg van vreemde invloede. Volgens Ritzer (2008:231) het daar (blykbaar teen die middel van die 1980s) in hierdie wêreld van diverse, diskrete maar ook tot verskeie mates, brose kulturele identiteite, meteens die eroderende mag van globalisering verskyn, en soos 'n vloedgety deur die wêreld se diverse kulture gespoel. In die proses is stabiele gemeenskappe verwoes, mense verplaas, 'n mark-gedrewe, “branded” homogenisiteit van kulturele ervaring meegebring, wat verskille uitgewis het tussen plek-gedefineerde kulture waarop identiteite voorheen gebaseer was. Die Shambala-kultuur van stille seksualiteit voor die koms van moderniteit en globalisering, was gerig op die behoud van waardigheid en hoflikheid in die samelewing. Dit het 'n premie geplaas op vrede, die skep van 'n harmonieuse omgewing vir alle mense, en het die morele standaarde van die totale gemeenskap verstewig. Stille seksualiteit was ook verbind aan die religieuse betekenis van heiligheid. Spesifiek seks en seksualiteit was as gewyd beskou en mag onder geen omstandighede misbruik geword het nie. Die Shambala het geglo dat seksualiteit so sterk dui op lewe, dat dit in staat is om lewensvernietigend te wees wanneer dit misbruik word. Seksuele taboe's het 'n stabiele sosiale struktuur help handhaaf deur omskrywing van sosiale verhoudings onder gesinslede, byvoorbeeld man teenoor vrou-, vader teenoor dogter-, en moeder teenoor seun-verhoudings. Deurdat party lede van die Shambala-samelewing moderniteit en globalisering aangegryp het, is hulle tradisionele opvattings rondom seksualiteit beïnvloed. Hulle sien seks nie meer as 'n private saak nie, en ondermyn tradisionele gewoontes en taboe's deur hulle af te maak as onbeskaafd en oertyds. Die gevolge manifesteer in 'n toename van seksverwante probleme onder die Shambala, soos ongewensde tiener-swangerskappe, skoolverlating ter wille van swangerskappe en/of vroeë huwelike, aborsie, verkragting, kinderprostitusie en andere. Die navorsingsbevindings kan dien as 'n wekroep aan die Shambala, die kerk en die staat om saam te werk om blywende oplossings te vind vir die verwoestende gevolge in die onlangse veranderinge in die patrone van seksuele praktyke onder die Shambala, en onder Tanzaniërs oor die algemeen, om 'n gender-gebaseerde, teen-geweld wet te implimenteer wat in die konstitusie opgeneem kan word om vroue en meisies teen alle vorme van seksuele geweld te beskerm, en 'n openbare bewussyn te kweek omtrent die voorregte en waardigheid van vroue en kinders.

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