Socio-cultural significance of circumcision songs within a changing Babukusu community of Bumula Division, South Bungoma District, Western Province of Kenya
Simiyu, Raphael Nashon
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This study investigated the socio-cultural significance of circumcision songs within a changing Babukusu community. Technological developments, growth of towns and industries have led to remarkable adjustments in the social behaviors and other ways of life of the Babukusu. These changes have given rise to new concerns and by extension to new compositions with new themes and even performance styles to suit the general trends which the general culture development follows. The Babukusu attach great significance to traditional circumcision. So, during circumcision season, the Babukusu youths who are ready for initiation including those born and bred outside the Babukusu culture such as urbanized youths are expected to be initiated according to the Babukusu tradition. During the circumcision ceremonies, traditional songs play crucial role as channel for conveying cultural values, beliefs and philosophies of the Babukusu to the initiates. In this research, a synchronic study of the Babukusu circumcision song texts was taken in Bumula Division, South Bungoma District, Western Province of Kenya by contextualizing the meanings of these songs to the contemporary issues that are relevant to the Babukusu culture and ascertain the relevance of these songs to the changing Babukusu community. Primary and secondary sources of data were consulted. The main methodology used in the study was qualitative method whereby questions from an interview schedule were administered to various respondents in the study group. The collection of primary data involved carrying out both participant and non-participant observation. Purposive and random sampling techniques were used to identify respondents who included circumcised male adults belonging to various circumcision age sets in Bumula Division. Secondary sources included information from written materials like books, journals, newspapers and dissertations. Data were analyzed through qualitative method. Information from the interview schedule was observed and in-depth descriptions were undertaken. The major findings of the study were that out of 15 songs analyzed, 13 of them' representing 86.6% conveyed messages concerning beliefs, values and other fundamental philosophies of the Babukusu. According to the respondents, contemporary circumcision songs used in the study such as Mulongo (song 2), Enyanga yakwa (song 7), Rosa (song 8), Ngonga khumuliango (song 9) and Lusia luanya embula (song 10) highlight and condemn social ills such as prostitution, witchcraft, homosexuality etc that are committed in the society. The study recommended that traditional music genres be supported and encouraged because of the moral aspects they serve. The songs contain a lot of wisdom in-so-far as virtues related to humanity are concerned. Studies should also be done to determine the socio-cultural significances of traditional children songs, wedding songs, harvest songs, funeral songs etc for documenting and preserving them for use as reference materials by sociologists, anthropologists and ethnomusicologists.
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