The Role of Females in the Folk Media Industry of Nambale Sub County, Busia, Kenya

Jonai Wabwire


Folk media such as tales, songs, rituals, and drama, serves a descriptive, as well as prescriptive role, by unswervingly depicting societal and cultural norms. Chauvinistic portrayals sanction the marginality of Nambale Sub County women, particularly when these reflect prevailing gender responsibilities and expectations. However, contests over identity and representation are as ancient as unwritten history. An extensive exploration of various folk media productions from Nambale offers a wide range of role models for women; some of which depict female agency in exacting circumstances. Further, females as narrators, singers, actors, protagonists, and the primary audience accompanied with few men and children act as both custodians and creators of Nambale Sub County culture. The legitimacy of folk media such as tales and songs arises from their foundation in everyday sense experiences. Supplementary, the consistency of folk media types sanctions their legitimacy despite the selectivity in appropriation of cultural patterns. Further, while most Namable folk media forms portray women as less assertive, less ethical and often indecisive if not dependent on male folk; women nurture future generations and, through folktales, foster norms and values that maintain communities. Further, self-determined protagonists offer models of strategic, resourceful, daring, and visionary females. Whereas folktales reflect and sanction the subordination of women in society, most Nambale men maintain a protective stance toward mothers, while disparaging femininity.

Keywords: Kenya; folk media; gender and female agency; social norms; texts; cultural conduits; cultural identity; self-determined learning

DOI: 10.7176/NMMC/82-04

Publication date: August 31st 2019

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