Sociology and Anthropology Vol. 2(7), pp. 273 - 283
DOI: 10.13189/sa.2014.020703
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The Relevance of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Modern Times: Evidence from Babukusu Male Circumcision


Egesah O. B. 1,*, Wanyama M. 2, V. Muange 1
1 Department of Anthropology and Human Ecology at Moi University, P. O. Box 30100 3900, Eldoret, Kenya
2 Department of Literature, Theater and Film Studies at Moi University, P. O. Box 30100 3900, Eldoret, Kenya

ABSTRACT

Male circumcision is a common practice in many cultures. In Sub-Saharan Africa, it is practiced as a rite of passage performed around adolescence. In clinical settings, it is normally done as a quick outpatient procedure using local anaesthesia (USAID 2003). Despite some controversy, circumcision has been widely practiced in modern times and in most parts of Africa, Asia, Europe and America (Columbia Encyclopaedia 2004). In Sub-Saharan Africa, about two-thirds of men circumcise, while in Kenya male circumcision is practiced by over 80% of men including young Babukusu men in Western Kenya where this study was conducted (M.O.H Kenya 2007). This paper explores the significance of male circumcision and its redefinition in modern times positing that Babukusu have practiced male circumcision over time because its significances withstand modernity influences. The objective of the paper is to describe the relevance and significance this intangible cultural heritage plays in initiating Babukusu young men into adulthood despite challenges of modernity. The authors posit that the institution of male circumcision is highly regarded amongst Babukusu because it is stalked in initiating young males into adulthood, reason why it is practiced to date. What is the significance of male circumcision as its practice transforms from traditional to modern? A triangulated source of data was utilized from in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and semi structured questionnaire with Babukusu parents and boys before and soon after circumcisions. Both qualitative and quantitative data were obtained and analysed complementarily to provide the results of this study. The paper reports the ubiquity and significance of Babukusu male circumcision in initiating young boys into adulthood regardless of whether the process is traditional or clinical. In addition, it argues that modernity depicted by education, cost, health and religiosity do not vary the plethora of functions and importances assigned to male circumcision, but they influence shift in its practice from traditional to clinical processes. We conclude that male circumcision among Babukusu is an important, relevant and significant institution and we recommend cogent synergy between its traditional roles and modern influences.

KEYWORDS
Significance, Traditional, Clinical, Circumcisions, Modernity, Influences, Kenya

Cite This Paper in IEEE or APA Citation Styles
(a). IEEE Format:
[1] Egesah O. B. , Wanyama M. , V. Muange , "The Relevance of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Modern Times: Evidence from Babukusu Male Circumcision," Sociology and Anthropology, Vol. 2, No. 7, pp. 273 - 283, 2014. DOI: 10.13189/sa.2014.020703.

(b). APA Format:
Egesah O. B. , Wanyama M. , V. Muange (2014). The Relevance of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Modern Times: Evidence from Babukusu Male Circumcision. Sociology and Anthropology, 2(7), 273 - 283. DOI: 10.13189/sa.2014.020703.