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Zimbabwe: A Cultural Analysis
The work of Hall (1982) relates how primary message systems in a culture serve to communicate the values and norms of that culture and are the instructions that everyone in that culture receives on what is considered within that culture to be acceptable in terms of dress and behavior. Also included in the primary message systems of a culture are the traditional survival methods and the use of time and how, when playing, it is acceptable to play and relax and the use of thing or objects in the culture is another identified primary message system within a culture which includes the use of money, weapons, transportation, homes and the like. Included as well in the culture of Zimbabwe, as in any other culture are rituals, networks, symbolism, values, stories, heroes, and heroines. There is also a differentiation of culture by the assignation of control, which may be the view, which states, "I'm controlled," or the view that in contrast states "I Control."
In fact, there are eleven (11) major differentiations that can be made on the basis of cultural characteristics and these include: (1) the source of control; (2) Collectivism or Individualism; (3) Homogeneous or Heterogeneous; (4) Feminine of Masculine; (5) Rank-status; (6) risk orientation; (7) decision-making; (8) time-use; (9) Space use; (10 ) Communication style; and (11) Economic system. From this conceptual framework, this present and brief study intends to conduct a cultural analysis of Zimbabwe.
I. Zimbabwe: Gender and Culture
The role of the women in the culture of Zimbabwe is a very traditional one as women in Zimbabwe are responsible for household management duties alongside a career and bearing and caring for the children and all of this in addition to management of domestic staff employed in the home of the married couple. Women are held as societal role models while men are expected to commit adultery and serve as the head of the family. It appears that men are certainly the entity in control in the Zimbabwean culture.
II. Zimbabwe Culture and the Use of Time
The use of time in Zimbabwe is somewhat relaxed as long as it is not business-oriented time and time is considered a commodity but is freely volunteered in this culture. Time in the culture of Zimbabwe is invested in business and personal time in what appears to be a balanced nature. This might be affected by the lack of reliable transportation services in Zimbabwe. As well, the lack of such services may indicate the relaxed nature of this culture in regards to acceptable and desirable use of time.
III. Zimbabwe and Cultural Communication
Communication in Zimbabwe is direct and does not required meaningless or social chatter and it is respectful formerly addressing individuals as Mr., Mrs. And so forth rarely using first names and only when invited to do so. When a woman in Zimbabwe becomes a mother, she is no longer addressed by her first name but instead will be called 'mother of Michael' and when married and is without children will be addressed as Amai, which is followed by the surname of the husband. Interestingly, this is also the case for addressing men in the culture of Zimbabwe.
IV. The Strength of Customs of Zimbabwe
Okome (2003) writes of African customs that they are "stronger than domination, stronger than the law, stronger even than religion. Over the years, customary practices have been incorporated into religion, and ultimately have come to be believed by their practitioners to be demanded by their adopted gods, whoever they may be" citing Lightfoot-Klein (1989, p.47)
V. The Family
Maureen Kambarami (2006) states in the work entitled "Femininity, Sexuality and Culture: Patriarchy and Female Subordination in Zimbabwe" that the family is "as a social institution, is a brewery for patriarchal practices by socializing the young to accept sexually differentiated roles." (p.2) Women in the culture of Zimbabwe are extremely dependent on the men for survival as they are financially supported by their husband and in the absence of a husband seek the assistance of the government as their means of survival. This is how women in Zimbabwe are socialized and from a very early age as they learn to be submissive, obedient and to be ruled by their husband. Toys purchased for children in Zimbabwe further ensure the division of roles as the female child plays with dolls, kitchen utensils and the male child plays with cars, games, puzzles "all toys that require physical energy or mental ability." (Kambarami, p.3) It is reported that in the socialization process in the family is only the beginning as this is stated to be of the nature, which "infiltrates into the other social institutions like marriage, religious, education, politics and the economy." (Kambarami, p.3) This spread can been seen in the spread of HIV and AIDS in Zimbabwe as women are the victim of contracting these as they are expected to be submissive to their husbands who are in complete control of the sexual encounter and the women are unable to ensure measures for safe sex with their philandering husbands. The Christian religion of Zimbabwe is further impacted as it contains the traditional and patriarchal principles of Christianity.
VI. The Education System
The education system in Zimbabwe is also affected due to its structure that "maintains the inequalities that exist between boys and girls. This is evidenced in the depiction of boys and girls in the textbooks as boys are depicted as being "…tough, rough and mentally skilled people who are adventurous whilst girls are depicted as soft, gentle people who enjoy carrying out household duties." (Kambarami 2006, p.5) The education system of Zimbabwe fails to acknowledge the pre-formed inequalities that children enter into school with and the culture of Zimbabwe is such that the educational system perpetuates these inequalities for females in the society. (Kambarami, 2006, paraphrased) The work of Chirimuuta (2006) writes that the education system in Zimbabwe is "blind as it encourages male models, male-authored textbooks, and theories thus spelling out that women should be academically subordinate as well." (Kambarami, 2006, p.5) Lastly, the girl child in the school of Zimbabwe is stated to be "a victim of her sexuality as well. Male teachers make sexual advances at her in return for cash, marks, or other material gains and failure to comply may lead to violence." (Kambarami, 2006, p.5)
VII. Business in the Zimbabwe Culture
Okome (2003) writes that in the culture of Zimbabwe business, the woman who is "educated and professional…no matter how capable, is never considered the equal of her male peers and colleagues. She may be admired, humored, tolerated….and if she plays her cards well, she might even make an inroad in her field of activity. But too often it will be because of "favor," rarely because of her capabilities (Buchanan 1993:1070 cited in Okome, 2003:84 in: Kambarami, 2006, p.5).Women in the corporate sector are much like girls in the schools within the culture of Zimbabwe in that they are yet again "victims of their sexuality as they are subjected to sexual harassment or sexual violence by their bosses." (Kambarami, 2006, p.6)
VIII. The Economy of Zimbabwe
The economy in Zimbabwe is characterized by few women participating in the corporate world in what is a male-controlled economy. Women generally are employed in secretarial or clerical work as few are in leadership positions. It does not matter how educated a woman is or how professional she is she will just never be equal with men in the Zimbabwe culture or corporate world.
Women are almost never involved in politics in the Zimbabwe society however, women are encouraged to be singers, dancers, cooks and guest entertainers if they must work to support themselves due to lack of a husband.
X. Patriarchal Practices Resulting in Males Controlling Female Sexuality
There are several patriarchal practices in Zimbabwe, which results in males holding the control of female sexuality. The first of these is referred to as payment of lobola. Payment of lobola authenticates a child who will inherit the surname and totem of the father in addition to inheriting the father's citizenship. The next patriarchal practice is that of Levirate Marriages which refers to the widow, upon the death of her husband, being expected to marry her deceased husband's brother. Likewise, when a man becomes widowed he is given his deceased wife's younger sister as a wife. The younger sister must be a virgin and there is no need to gain the woman's consent. The third patriarchal practice referred to is that of the arranged marriage which is customary in Zimbabwe. Rape is considered acceptable in Zimbabwe and even considered necessary, as those with sexual diseases have been led to believe that sex with a virgin will cure such as HIV and AIDS.
It is clear that the culture of Zimbabwe is one that has based many of its beliefs upon myths, notions, demands of the gods, patriarchal control, and long-standing while little understood and lack of rationality…[continue]
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