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Book chapter Book chapter
Title:Mijikenda Perspectives on Freedom, Culture and 'Human Rights'
Author:Ciekawy, D.
Book title:African Visions: Literary images, political change, and social struggle in contemporary Africa.
Editors:Mwaria, C.B.
Federici, S.
McLaren, J.
City of publisher:Westport, CT
Publisher:Greenwood Press
Geographic term:Kenya
Discipline:Anthropology & Ethnology
Subjects:Mijikenda - ethnic group
Human Rights
Abstract:This essay examines the perspectives on freedom, culture and human rights of the Mijikenda, a people living in Kenya not far from the city of Mombasa. These perspectives are drawn from senior Mijikenda men of a secret society, the 'kaya', whom the author has known since 1984 and visited over the course of five periods of research in coastal Kenya. The author describes the identity and work of 'kaya' elders before turning to their perspectives on freedom ('uhuru') and culture. Their main complaint concerned the fact that postcolonial laws and policing practices affected people who followed aspects of precolonial culture, which they conceptualize as 'desturi', more than those who followed practices prescribed by Christian and Islamic religious orientations. According to 'kaya' elders, the violation of their freedom to practise 'desturi' is not just. The author concludes that the international discussion on human rights should include an examination of cultural traditions. Failure to include the voices of the Mijikenda and other indigenous peoples in the human rights debate is to reproduce the silencing processes of the Kenyan State and the legacy of colonialism. (Source: ASC documentation)