Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Facing Mt. Kenya - Economic Life

I found the last chapter pretty fascinating. This one was more basic. It starts with the basic division of labor. Men have certain roles in the homestead economy; women have others. If a man does women’s work, Kenyatta says the women will wonder why they need him. They need him to do man’s work. Women are the food managers of the family, too. They seek to keep the food supply balanced so they use up those resources they have the most of. If they don’t, they’ll have to barter a little more at the market. Children are also involved in the farming process. They worked alongside the family so they could be part of what they’re doing, but they also learn how to farm by doing it with their family.

Agriculture is important. There are two seasons – rainy and reaping time. They come twice a year. While everyone was responsible for their own land, there is a community aspect to their work yet again. They would help each other weed by working together joyfully as they went from one field to another each day. Kenyatta makes a point from here that Europeans often think Giyuku lazy, but he contends that the Giyuku don’t look at the clock. Rather, they get up early and work hard together before the heat of the sun.

After the harvest, people will go to market for barter or money. Supply and demand of certain goods at harvest time depend on what you can get and what it will cost. The Giyuku, at the time of publication, placed higher value on goats than money. If they were saving money, they would bury it and it would ruin. On the other hand, goats even multiply themselves! Kenyatta seems to long for his countrymen to think ahead and make advancements with regard to currency.

Cattle are a luxury, but rarely used for food. Having cattle and drinking milk is a status symbol. Sometimes cattle will be slaughtered for a festival, but often just babies and the wealthy could enjoy the milk of cattle. The rich were expected to take care of warriors because the milk and meat would give them sustenance.

Finally, the Giyuku trade with other tribes. The Masai believe farming to be an offense to the land, but they eat Giyuku crops. At the time of publication, there were trading posts being developed, but you had to pay the government a handsome price to have a shop at the trading post.

* The sharp distinction of gender roles is something looked down upon by us, culturally, but, while details might be different, the difference in gender and their complementing of each other is a biblical truth.
* Family training is valuable. I don’t know the extent of child labor here, but there’s clearly a model for training up children to do the family’s work of agriculture. We are called, biblically, to train our children in the way they should go as well.
* Again, there’s the emphasis on helping each other and celebrating provision together. This isn’t addressing the spirituality stuff, but their shared work and celebration is a biblical response to God’s provision. The hope is that they give thanks to God in Christ.

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