Daily Life and Culture In Africa


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Daily Life and Culture In Africa

  1. 1. Mroczko 1Kacie MroczkoMs. BennettBritish Literature16 September 2011 Daily Life and Culture in Africa Eighty-five percent of the people in Africa live off of less than $1 a day. Forty-sixpercent (as of 2005) of the people in Kenya, Africa, are considered poor, with an unemploymentrate of 9.8%. Kenya is home to the second largest slum in the world, Kibera. There areapproximately 800,000 to one million people living within the 630 acres of the Kibera slums.With the odds against the survival of the majority of its people, the challenge of making itthrough a typical day in Kenya is literally a life and death matter. In 2003, it was estimated that there were over 1,200,000 people living in Kenya withHIV/AIDS; approximately 150,000 people died that year of HIV/AIDS (Kates and Leggoe). Outof all of the adults with AIDS in Kenya, sixty-five percent are women. There are an estimated650,000 AIDS orphans living in Kenya. “Kenya’s HIV prevalence peaked during 2000 and,according to the latest figures, has dramatically reduced to around 6.3 percent. This decline isthought to be partially due to an increase in education and awareness, and high death rates”(Avert). “HIV is the human immunodeficiency virus. It is the virus that can lead to acquiredimmune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS” (CDC). As of right now, there is no cure for HIV. Thereis treatment for HIV that would have to be taken daily for the rest of someone’s life. Althoughtreatment is becoming more available to the people of Kenya, most cannot afford it. “About
  2. 2. Mroczko 2seventy percent of Kenyas HIV-positive people live in rural areas,” says Kenyas National AIDSStrategic Plan (Mumo). HIV/AIDS are not the only diseases that many people in Kenya have,another disease is Malaria. Malaria is a disease caused by a parasite that is spread to humans bythe bite of an infected mosquito (“Malaria”). “Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal diseasewhich is widespread in many tropical and subtropical countries. It is caught by being bitten by aninfected mosquito that is carrying the malaria parasites in its saliva” (Travel Doctor). Over onemillion people die every year from malaria. “Worldwide, there are 300 to 500 million cases ofmalaria and more than one million deaths from malaria each year. More than ninety percent ofall malaria deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa, a vast area south of the Sahara Desert, andseventy-five percent of deaths occur in children” (“Malaria”). Although malaria is a fairly fataldisease, it can be completely cured. The problem is that most Kenyans cannot manage to pay formedication to treat the disease. Approximately fifty percent of the population in Kenya is below the poverty line.“Almost fifty percent of the population lives on under $1 a day - the highest rate of extremepoverty in the world” (ADollarADay). There are many different jobs that most Kenyans have.Most Kenyans make something, such as clothes like knits, and then sell it. Common jobs consistof farming, cooking, doing art, cab service, owning shops, contracting, banking, and givingtours. The majority of the people have to go without food or water for more than a day becausethey cannot afford it or can get to a river or place with water and food. In July 2011, a missionteam from Liberty Hill United Methodist Church in Canton, Georgia, went to Nairobi, Kenya,Africa for thirteen days. They got the opportunity to experience firsthand the poverty in Kenya.They went to the Kibera slum for a day and met and talked to several people about theirsituations. They went to a school within the slum where there were three women who gave up
  3. 3. Mroczko 3their opportunities to make money to teach several of the children in the slum instead. The teambrought three slices of bread and a juice box to every child. The majority of the children in theschool had not had anything to eat or drink since the morning before. They were so excited to getthe food; they were starving. After the team went to the school, they went and met a family of three in a twelve-foot bytwelve-foot “shack”. There was a single mother that has HIV. She has two sons who are highschool (Form 1-4 as they call it) age. They pay a rent of 1800 shillings a month (roughly $18US). They rent their “shack” from the rich people in Nairobi. They not only sleep in their“shack”, but they also do all of their cooking in it as well. It is a one room shack built of sticksand tin. The people of the slum do not even have enough money to afford bathrooms. They go tothe bathroom in the “streams” within the borders of the slums. The living conditions in Kiberaare very poor. The team went to a place that is about four and a half hours north of Nairobi (thecapital of Kenya) called Kisumu. Kisumu is very green and lush. There is not much traffic there,let alone any roads. When the team was in Kisumu, they went to two different villages to helpbuild homes and build relationships with the people in the villages. The team would watch thevillagers cook and interact with each other. The team was so amazed at how the villagers’ cultureand way of life is so different than they were used to. The villagers have no refrigeration andthey do everything with their hands and do not clean anything. The way they were just rippingthrough the freshly cut meat covered in flies was certainly not something that the team memberswere used to. In the second village, they met Caroline. Her husband had died a year before frommalaria and is buried right outside of her home. She lives in a ten-foot by ten-foot mud hut withher six children. They all manage to sleep in such a small living quarters on the dirt floor.
  4. 4. Mroczko 4 Kenyan culture and daily life is so different than life in America, but in many ways verysimilar. Daily life is similar in the fact that the Kenyan people are just trying to get by day-by-day, just trying to survive. They are constantly trying to come up with ways to make money sothey can buy food to provide for their families. The living conditions in Kenya are very differentthan they are in America. They are not quite able to keep things very sanitary. A typical Kenyandish “generally consists of a heavy, thick food, such as rice, with beans or a meat sauce”(Zhdanova-Redman). The Kenyan people are very much into a “deep sense of kinship”(Zhdanova-Redman). “In tradition, the tribes are established based on the geographical regionand common culture. Each group or village has its own political and social organizations(Zhdanova-Redman). Kenya does not have a set state religion. The greater part of Africans areRoman Catholic, Anglican, or Protestant. These religious connections came from early missionary activities of colonial times. Along with those religious forms, the traditional beliefs of African population are very strong in a traditional society. Animals (cattle, sheep, and goats), natural objects and phenomena (rain, thunder, lightning, wind, even rocks and mountains) are often associated with God and considered to be sacred. Some people have names for God that mean sky, heaven, or the above (Zhdanova-Redman).The major tribes in Kenya consist of Turkana, Kikuyu, Masaai, and Embu. Turkana men(warriors) and women both wear traditional dress and ornaments in order to increase their charmtowards one another. The Turkana people live near Lake Turkana in Northern Kenya. There areabout 200,000 Turkana, making them the second largest nomadic group in Kenya, (EnterKenya). Kenya has a wide variety of tribes and cultures. There are over seventy different ethnictribal groups. Cultures and traditions are articulated in their lives, as in their ceremonial dresses,
  5. 5. Mroczko 5songs, dances, art, and the way they live their lives. The Masaai believe that education is notimportant for the herdsman to search for grass for their cattle. The majority of Kenyans have towalk several miles a day just to get water. Sometimes they have to go days without food orwater. The difficulty of the daily life in Kenya is literally a life or death situation; from thedifficulties of the different diseases to not being able to or affording food or water. The peoplethat live in Kenya have to search for food and water just to survive. Daily life for people inKenya is a struggle. Kenyan culture is very different than American culture in many ways, butvery similar in many as well. There are many ethnic tribal groups in Kenya, all with distincttraditions and ways of life. There are several prevalent diseases, but the most common ones areHIV and AIDS, and Malaria. HIV and AIDS are incurable; Malaria can be cured by varioustreatment options. 1.2 million people in Kenya have HIV or AIDS and between 300 and 500million people have malaria. The bulk of the individuals with one of those diseases are so poorthey cannot afford treatment for their disease. The majority of the world’s poorest countries arein Africa; of which Kenya is among them. They are poor because they cannot get jobs that paywell enough to fully support them. Many Kenyans have to pay rent, in the slums, to the richpeople of Kenya. The Kenyan people are mentally, emotionally, and physically very strong as awhole. They are able to survive on exceptionally low income and little to no water and food.They are incredible people that are struggling each and every day to just get by enough tosurvive.
  6. 6. Mroczko 6 Works Cited“Basic Information about HIV and AIDS.” Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Oct. 2011. <http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/basic/>.“HIV/AIDS Policy Fact Sheet.” The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Oct. 2011. <http://www.kff.org/hivaids/upload/7356.pdf>.“HIV and AIDS in Kenya.” Avert. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Oct. 2011. <http://www.avert.org/hiv-aids- kenya.htm>.“Kenya People and Cultures.” Enter Kenya. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Oct. 2011. <http://www.enterkenya.com/culture.html>.Kenya People and Culture. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2011. <http://www.enterkenya.com/ culture.html>.Malaria. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2011. <http://www.humanillnesses.com/Infectious-Diseases- He-My/Malaria.html#ixzz1Y3WTZ8or>.“Poverty Around the World.” A Dollar a Day. N.p., 2006. Web. 7 Sept. 2011. <http://library.thinkquest.org/05aug/00282/over_world.htm>.Travel Doctor. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2011. <http://www.traveldoctor.co.uk/malaria.htm>. Zhdanova-Redman, Ekaterina. “Kenya - Traditions and Daily Life.” edHelper. N.p., 2011. Web. 6 Sept. 2011. <http://edhelper.com/ReadingComprehension_Geography_78_1.html>.