The role of traditional music in girls alternative rite of passage among the Amiiru
Muguna, Harriet Karoki
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Female initiation involving genital mutilation has been used in many parts of the world as a rite of passage ritual for many years down the history of mankind. Apparently music is one of the prominent features of this rite in almost all the cultures in which it is practised. However, most countries have abandoned these cultural practices due to formal education, Christianity and other modern socio-economic changes. These changes have contributed greatly to changes in behavior and attitude towards girls traditional rite of passage (GTRP). In modern socio-cultural context traditional GTRP has lost the meaning it had in traditional society and it is no longer a binding prerequisite for marriage. This implies that the institution that supported girls traditional rite of passage music is no longer a vogue, hence likely to disappear together with its music. In Kenya, Tharaka is among the few communities that have been cited to have prevalence in the practice of GTRP amidst much opposition from the Human Rights Activists, Medical Fraternity as well as the Government. Consequently, an alternative rite of passage (ARP) wasintroduced to the Tharaka community in 1996 with about one hundred and fifty girls graduating that year. Ntanĩra na Mũgambo (the ARP) is a festive occasion where both traditional and contemporary music is performed. The study sort to investigate the role of traditional music in girls alternative rite of passage among the Amĩĩrũ with emphasis lied on the Tharaka community. The study found out that traditional music functioned as a vehicle for transmitting cultural values and norms intended for the initiates as well as the community in traditional society. Related literature reviewed gave the research a firm grip of the significance and advocacy for eradication of girls traditional rite of passage and hence the music under study. The research made use of the theories of structural functionalism, culture-continuity and change. The purposive and snowball technique gave the required population samples required. Participant and non-participant observation, questionnaire, opinionnaire and scheduled interviews formed the methodology of the study in the field. Data collected was analyzed qualitatively and the text and music translated and transcribed to highlight the disparities in text and music content. The findings revealed that both the traditional and contemporary music was performed in girls alternative rite of passage ceremonies. The traditional music was used in its original form in terms of rhythm and melody. The texts of the traditional music were, however, modified to suit the alternative rite of passage concepts. Traditional music in GARP enhances the desire to go through the ritual for the youths who identify with it. Conclusions on the study findings, recommendations on use of traditional music in planning and implementation of anti-FGM programmes made as well as possible research areas.
- MST-Music