A cultural reading of Henry Rufus Ole Kulet’s literary presentation of Maasai masculinity
Keywords:culture, hegemony, masculinity
This is a study of Henry ole Kulet’s fiction in the context of Maasai culture. The research focuses on three of his novels: Is it Possible? To Become a Man and Moran no More; in so far as he fictionalises the nature and cultural construction of Maasai masculinity. The methodology of the study is largely socio-cultural but embraces a close reading and analysis of the three texts. Of necessity, related texts are brought into play in order to give the study a comparative outlook. The general ideological assumptions of hegemonic masculinity aid in highlighting the central place of the male in understanding and critiquing masculinity. The paper acknowledges and borrows from Connel’s (1967) assertion that power relations among the men and between men and women are found to dominate social, cultural, economic and political activities, as portrayed in the three novels and in Maasai society. Special privileges also rank high as attributes of masculinity and determine nearly all interactions between the man and woman. The nature of Maasai masculinity is described from the viewpoint of cultural expectations and consequently construction of masculinity through character analysis based on the selected novels. The overall conclusion is that Maasai culture is not static as often claimed in the world of stereotyping. Man and masculinity in general, social demands, responsibilities, and history do not allow a man to discharge forever. If anything, the novels and cultural writings highlight the continuing reconstructions and redefinitions of Maasai manhood in light of changing values.
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