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final exam - Individuals in African societies go through...

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Individuals in African societies go through distinct life stages. The transition from one stage to another is marked by a special ritual or ceremony and is occasion for community celebration. a) What are these stages? b) What rituals and/or ceremonies mark each one of these stages? c) Can you, critically, discuss any one of these stages and its rituals/ceremonies? There are five life stages the individual goes through in African societies. The stages are: birth, infancy, childhood, young adulthood, and mature adulthood. Each stage is marked by a special ritual or ceremony of passage. It is the ceremonies an individual goes through that defines him as African. Birth is the first life stage, and one of the most important rituals is the cutting of the umbilical cord. The separating of mother and child represents the sense of individuality for the child. Once the umbilical cord is cut, it is buried in a special place, such as under the house or where the child was born. This signifies the child being tied and linked to the community. A baby boy doesn’t leave the house for three to six days, and a baby girl doesn’t leave for three to four days. In this time, sex and gender roles are determined. For boys, a spear is planted in the front yard to symbolize the public sphere, while a ring, made out of banana and coconut fibers for a girl, represents the private sphere. The infancy stage consists of a close mother and child relationship. In contrast to Western culture, the child is weaned from its mother late in life. Physical contact with the mother is endured to gain a sense of warmth and comfort.
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