The Concept and meaning of Culture

The world confronts crises like climate change, inequalities, and biodiversity loss, leading to poverty and challenges, imperiling human survival.  A thriving culture empowers and inspires its people, enabling them to adapt and address social and ecological demands effectively.  Subsequently, the active participation of individuals in different cultural forms it entails is driven by a prosperous and thriving culture, boosting the economic well-being of a society.    

What is culture?

Culture as made by scholars is a common traditional way of life followed by a given group of people that comes from one descendant. Culture is a shared traditional lifestyle passed down through generations, shaping social, economic, and religious values, aiding in daily challenges.   African cultures vary across nations and regions, sometimes overlapping, while evolving over time, reflecting diverse traditions and societal dynamics.  The culture of the Bakhulo people encompasses the following:

Economic

            Economic values in many traditional African societies are marked by cooperation.  The traditional economy that the Bakhulo people practiced was mainly fishing and farming, which was cooperative in nature. The Bakhulo men prided in having many male children because they were viewed as providers of the labor force within the community. During planting, support from relatives and friends highlights reciprocity, anticipating similar assistance when their time for planting arrives.

The Bakhulo adopted a system of contributions called Esanga, where members pooled their resources together so as to uplift one another economically. Besides this, they even cooperated in doing various things for their fellow members, including building houses. When any of them were having difficulty, all members rallied around and helped them.  Hence, the economic values of Bakhulo were built by its members’ hard work and cooperation.

Social

Bakhulo people’s strong social values stem from adherence to beliefs, consistently practiced and applied whenever necessary, fostering community cohesion. Meat sharing, a cherished Bakhulo social value, fosters community cohesion, contributing significantly to the strength and glory of their society. The Bakhulo slaughtered meat within their clan houses in circles and this kind of ritual continued for a long time. Such practices were carried out on special occasions where specific customary ceremonies took place.

Moral

Bakhulo moral codes prohibit harming strangers, relatives, in-laws, or foreigners, except when their actions are deemed immoral. If guilty, individuals face social isolation; even in death, they receive no dignified burial, denied coffins or graves. Suspects denying wrongdoing may undergo rituals with traditional seers or swear oaths to prove innocence in the Bakhulo culture.   This, therefore, discouraged negative behaviors such as adultery, stealing, or any other immoral behavior.

Religious

Bakhulo people, aligned with traditional African beliefs, recognize good and bad spirits, facilitating communication with the Supreme Being. Shrines and temples served worship purposes, but belief centered on an all-powerful Supreme Being who could both curse and bless. Religious values reinforce community morals, emphasizing truth, justice, and distinguishing between good and bad values for communal cohesion.

Political

Before colonization disrupted African political structures, Bakhulo maintained a robust chieftaincy from Cameroon, with chiefs aided by councils and cult groups. Clan leadership in Bakhulo was attained through conquest or inheritance, with disloyalty to leaders viewed as faithlessness to God.

Aesthetic

Aesthetic value informs about the arts and crafts of a people, and it affects their sense of what is beautiful as opposed to what is ugly. The aesthetic value of a society influences artists in their endeavor to produce aesthetic objects that are acceptable to the society in which they live.

Among the Bakhulo people, the concept of aesthetics is premised on the core traditional belief system, which finds expression through the production of various artistic works. In the artistic world, the clan prides itself in the celebrated Daughter Nahulo Mwane, who has provided her fans throughout the region and the world with leisure time through contemporary popular music.

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