What is culture

What is culture? Culture is defined as “the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social groups” (Merriam-Webster dictionary). The essay will introduce the Maasai and Jordanian culture, and will go into the details of exploring the differences and similarities between the both as well as the gender roles and identities.

The Maasai culture are a Nilotic ethnic group inhabiting southern Kenya and northern Tanzania. They are the furthermost familiar of African people to outsiders, a reputation that rests as much on their constant adherence to a traditional lifestyle. Instantly observant, Maasai men are dressed in toga-like red blankets, carrying alongside wooden poles, and often dye their hair with red ochre. While the women dress similarly to many other Tanzanian women, their extensive use of beaded jewellery is highly distinctive.

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The culture of Jordan is based in Arabic and Islamic elements with significant Western influences. Jordan stands at the intersection of the three continents of the ancient world, lending its geographic and population diversity. Notable aspects of the culture include traditional music, clothing and foods.

The Maasai people of East Africa are known as a Nilotic ethnic group displaying their welcoming and unique culture, however the Jordanian culture exemplifies its leading geographic and population diversity. The similarities between the both cultures are displayed through gender roles, giving a brief understanding that men are the focus to lead, protect and provide for their tribes. For example, the Maasai culture shows the significance of the warriors, also known as the elders which are expected to take up the role to keep the tribe safe from any harm, as well as the Jordanian belief that men are also responsible to provide and shelter for their families. The women on the other hand have less regard in both cultures and are always subjugated under the man without a say, a life of her own, and no education. The women’s gender roles are usually seen as a stereotype and a social practice creating a one dimensional depiction of women that doesn’t reflect their true depth and variety. An example of the woman’s role is seen through the Maasai women given the job to milk the cows, fetch water and walk long distances to provide foods and water for the family, likewise the Jordanian women who are also responsible for the household such as housecleaning, cooking and washing.

The cultural diversity embraces the reoccurring differences through the Maasai and Jordanian culture, one of which includes their cultural way of dressing. For example, The Maasai culture dress in multi-coloured African designs where they replace animal skin, calf hides and sheep skin with a commercial cotton cloth also known as Shúkà. The Shúkà is the Maa word for sheets traditionally worn wrapped around the body. The Maasai are recognised for their beaded jewellery in which each colour symbolises something, for example red represents strength and bravery. The colour red is the main focus in the Maasai culture as they believe it reduces the animal population through the vibrant colours. The Jordanian culture however has many dissimilarities. For instance, everyday Jordanian dress is generally conservative particular for women. They are not allowed to wear tight clothes, sleeveless blouses, shorts, short skirts, or low-cut backs. Furthermore, the traditional Jordanian clothing that is occasionally worn is called the ‘abai’ This is a floor length, long-sleeved handmade unisex black dress, embroidered with multi-coloured triangles.

Cultural identity is the “identity or feeling of belonging to a group. It is part of a person’s self-conception and self-perception. The cultural identity makes up society through nationality, ethnicity, religion, social class, or any kind of social group that had its own distinct culture” Almost Jordan’s entire population consist almost entirely of Arabs marking a national identity. The way of life in Jordan varies from person to person and region to region. About sixty per cent of Jordanians are of Palestinian origin, creating some diversity between their way of life and their lifestyle. Although Jordan has a homogeneous population, society is characterised by overlapping layers of identity. Coming across various expressions of religious and social sensibility. The Maasai are the semi-nomadic people from East Africa who are known for their unique way of life as well as their cultural traditions and customs. Living across the arid lands along the great rift valley in Tanzania and Kenya, the Maasai population is currently around 1.5 million with the majority of them living in the Maasai Mara. They are reputed to be strong warriors who hunt for food and live closely with wild animals. The differences between the cultures are seen through the population as the Jordanian culture is known as a homogeneous population where many cultures such Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq etc are comparable however as seen the Maasai society are one culture who live in tribal islands with different identities.


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