Inculturation: Learning the Kenyan Culture by Chris
When you look up the definition of inculturation, you will find a definition like this: the gradual acquisition of the characteristics and norms of a culture or group by a person.
This is my first time on the African continent and there is a lot to learn....not just about Africa but specifically about Kenya and more specifically about the Ameru people/tribe that live in the Diocese of Meru.
FMC taught us that one of the first things we should do when we arrive at a new mission post is to learn the culture. This takes time and it is a rather slow process as we need to be cautious not to offend anyone with some of our cultural habits or norms. As you may have read in Anna's post on language school, we are learning Swahili (technically Kiswahili) as the Ki before is the way to refer to a language. (So in Meru, the language is Kimeru). Along with learning the language, we need to learn how the people use it....which is much different from English. We had this issue when we first learned Spanish in Peru...we would try to translate an English phrase (especially me with a joke or an idiom) and it would simply not translate. We need to learn their similar phrase or joke or their version of the idiom. This takes time.... I have spent time reading the Kenyan newspapers on our break between classes in the local library...
|This is the library named after Blessed Joseph Allamano, from Turin, Italy, who was the founder of the Consolata Missionaries. He was the reason the Catholic faith came to most of Kenya. He was beatified October 7th, 1990.|
|The newspaper is usually 1-2 days old but that is OK for me!|
|"Ad Gentes" is Latin for "To the Nations"|
I have been trying to strike up conversations with locals about current events and issues they face (all in Kiswahili, of course). I usually can go for about 10-15 minutes until I run out of Kiswahili verbs & nouns that I know and I have to resort to English. I hope this continues to get longer and longer as time goes by.
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Thank you and God Bless!