Taita - Society

There's more information about culture and traditions in both In Remembrance of Pepo and the Ancestors, and in the Music & Dance section.


There are six clans among the Taita, each with a numerical name derived from the claimed order of arrival in the Taita Hills. Although they had no chiefs, "prominent men" were accorded a recognized status among them, which in the universal manner of power politics led to much fighting towards the end of the nineteenth century as they squabbled with each other for supremacy, no doubt encouraged by British 'divide and rule' tactics while the latter were building their railway and their colony.
   Nonetheless, the clans contributed much to the cohesion of a culture which was segmented and decentralized politically, and lacking in a consistent age-set system. Throughout all this, the only stable social structure was, of course, the family, which was extended both genealogically and geographically to include various more distant relatives, whose various households were grouped together into what sociologists call a 'homestead cluster'.
   Originally dispersed into small, isolated communities, the homesteads are nowadays scattered more or less all over the hills, no matter how steep, wherever there's land to cultivate. Traditionally, houses were constructed around a circle of poles which were plastered with mud, and topped by a conical thatch roof, but these have now mostly been replaced with ubiquitous rectangular houses topped with corrugated iron roofs.

Information about traditional Taita society is scanty to say the least, as you can tell from the above. Any more information would be be much appreciated.

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