Comparing the Jamaican and Cameroonian Cultures

Comparingthe Jamaican and Cameroonian Cultures

Culturecan be defined in various ways depending on the aspects involved. Onelogical description portrays it as a way of life i.e. lifestyle of aparticular group or groups or a society in terms of values, symbols,art, beliefs and behaviors among others that are generally acceptedby the community. It can also be deemed as a set of patternsinvolving human activities in a social group or community and thestructural symbols that give such activities significance. Theelements comprised in culture include laws, architectural style,religious beliefs, traditions, customs, and dress codes among others.In most cases the elements are passed on from generation togeneration through imitation or communication. Culture is thereforeone broad aspect that differs across the continents. For instance,the cultural behaviors in the Asian continent tend to differ from theAfrican culture and the rest of the continents as well. In thatrespect, this paper will look to outline the different elements thatdefine culture i.e. values, beliefs, socialization among others. Itis also vital to give the different kinds of culture practiced acrossthe globe. In determining the different elements associated withculture, the paper will give an in-depth analysis of the differencesand similarities of culture practices among different communities.This paper will mainly focus on Jamaica and Cameroon. With the twocountries being in completely different continents, they ought tohave cultures of their own. By utilizing the two countries, the paperwill elaborate how their way of life tend to differ and correlate aswell. Outlining the differences and similarities in culture of thetwo countries will therefore be a major undertaking within thispaper.

TheCultural Groups

They include

  • Community: is a social unit whose size is not limited that have mutual values. They can range from neighborhood to international communities.

  • People: these are persons considered collectively as a nation or ethnic group. For example, Danes and Frisians are two Germanic peoples who correlate in some way.

  • Ethnic group: group of persons who identify themselves according to common social, cultural or ancestral experience. They tend to share common ancestry, language, myths, religion, dress code, cultural heritage among others.

  • Society: these are a group of persons having interpersonal relations. Or in other words, a huge social grouping having common social or geographical territory hence share same political authorities.

  • Civilization: these are intricate societies characterized by symbolic communication kinds, social stratification as well as urban developments [ CITATION Jas15 l 1033 ].

SomeElements of Culture

  1. Arts: cultural subdivisions that comprise the creative aspects as well as disciplines. They include literary arts, performing arts and visual arts. It can be broken down into

  • Food preparation: is the art of preparing foods for consumption. The techniques encompassed in this art vary tremendously. The flavors and ingredients also tend to vary.

  • Gastronomy: this is the science or art of good eating. It includes study of culture and food.

  1. Literature: this entails written works

  • Fiction: narratives that are not factual in nature and seem to be invented or imagined by the author

  • Children literature: books, poems and stories for children

  • Poetry

  • Critical theory

  1. Performing arts entail forms that utilize the artistes’ face, presence and body as a means of conveying. Can be inform of comedy, dance, film, theatre, music, circus, stagecraft among others.

  2. Visual arts are creative works that are visual in nature. They include crafts, design, drawing, paintings, architecture, photography among others.

Theelements of culture are quite diverse with different modes utilizedto distinguish the same. However, basing on socialization, values,beliefs among other various elements, the two countries will becompared.

TheGeneral Outlook of the Cameroonian culture

Generally,Cameroon is made up of a variety of ethnic groups roughly 250 whohave different cultures. For example, roughly half of Camerooniansare Christians i.e. either Protestant or Catholic. The northernregion of Cameroon is dominated by Muslims who are about a quarter ofthe population. Another 25% follow different traditional beliefs andpay homage to ancestral spirits. In that respect, Cameroon isgenerally categorized into three i.e. people from the south, north orwest. The northern region is dominated by the Fulani who wereoriginally cattle herders but later ventured in merchant and farming.The northernmost regions are occupied by the Kirdi and Katoko. TheBamoun and Bamileke occupy the western regions and are respected fortheir traditional religion and farming skills. The southern regionsis occupied by several Bantu speaking communities with several livinga nomadic lifestyle. The country experienced a split colonial erahence has two official languages i.e. English and French. However,most people are bi-lingual utilizing both languages [ CITATION Our15 l 1033 ].

Thegeneral outlook of the Jamaican Culture

TheJamaican contingent encompasses a mixture of cultures living inGreater Antilles islands, Jamaica. The Taino were the originalsettlers but were later conquered by the Spanish who in turn wereruled by the British. All these played a role in the culturalsettings of the Jamaicans. In later years, black slavery dominatedthe cultural force before the introduction of Indian and Chinesemigrants. Though English is the official language, some residents usePatois as a communication language. Christians are the dominatingreligion and comprises of Catholics, Anglicans, Church of God and theBaptists. Additionally, the Rastafari movement that was influenced byconsciousness of the African people especially in the wake ofpolitical events affecting the continent, is based on the Christianculture. The Jamaican culture is mostly embodied in dance, theatre,sport especially athletics among others.

Socializationaspects

Familyin Jamaica

TheJamaica culture portrays a family-oriented one. The parents structuretheir homes in a manner that encourages academics as well as sportsespecially athletics. A typical family is made up of father, motherand children with the extended part including grandparents.Generally, the Jamaican culture allows friends, neighbors and familyto raise their children i.e. all these parties are involved inbringing up the child. They focus on giving the children a wide rangeof opportunities to let them benefit themselves and the society atlarge. Marriage is one huge aspect within the Jamaican culture.Parents are immensely involved during the children’s marriage andnormally assist in making spousal choices. Fathers get involved infinding a man who can raise and support a family for their daughters.On the other hand, men look for women who can look after a home andraise children in an appropriate manner. In that respect, family is avital aspect in the Jamaican culture. Fathers are mostly tasked withproviding for the family whereas mothers are tasked with taking careof the home. However, with the current challenges in maintaining asuccessful marriage, single parenthood is a growing norm. Childrenborn out of wedlock are many hence making their upbringing a bitchallenging [ CITATION Wee14 l 1033 ].

Familyin Cameroon

Extendedfamily structures as well as strong kin and ancestry relations are avital aspect across many Cameroonians. This is because they tend tobring a sense of protection, solidarity and belonging. In thatrespect, families also bring about responsibilities, obligations andexpectations. They play a decisive role in economic, demographic andsocial behaviors in the Cameroonian society. Though the culturaldiversity is quite intricate due to the number of ethnic groupsinvolved, the family system is crucial across all the groups. It isfor this reason that marriage is afforded the appropriate attention.Though the rates of postponement of conjugal unions are quite high,premarital births are quite normal. Despite urbanization andinternational migration being a common feature among Cameroonians,marriage is still a core aspect among them. Conjugal union is seen asa means of securing socio-economic position of both men and women. The family system is also characterized by a gendered splitting oflabor, whereby responsibilities and financial aspects are sharedaccordingly. The father heads the family and is tasked with provisionof daily family needs. One important feature of the extended familyis child rearing. This is because, children are raised collectivelyand are considered a social duty. Polygamy among Cameroonians is alsoa common feature. For instance a chief can have more than 30 wives aseveral children. Inheritance of wives is also a normal thing amongCameroonians. Generally, wives are viewed as an economic advantagesince they perform most of the chores. Chiefs see marriage ties as achannel for connecting with many families. The greater the channeli.e. in-laws the greater the influence and power [ CITATION Ann07 l 1033 ].

Languagein Jamaica

Asearlier elaborated, English is the common language across Jamaica.Though some residents use Patois as a communication language, Englishremains the dominant and official language.

Languagein Cameroon

Cameroonhas about 250 ethnic groups. Each of the ethnic groups tend to havetheir own means of communicating. However, since the countryexperienced a split colonial era, it has two official languages i.e.English and French. However, most people are bi-lingual utilizingboth languages.

Schoolsin Jamaica

Schoolingacross Jamaica is distributed fairly among both genders i.e. femaleand male. Emphasis on education is not only biased on males.

Schoolsin Cameroon

Somerural areas across Cameroon do not embrace girl child education. Theyare still entangled in cultural beliefs that do not embrace educatinggirls and viewing them as equal to boys. In fact, some cultures viewit as a taboo, hence girls drop out at tender ages and beginpracticing on how to be good wives. Though urban areas do not havethe same issue, the disparities between girl and boy education arequite broad.

Differencesand similarities according to the socialization aspects

Asevidenced above, the two countries tend to have similar cultures butalso experience some differences. One major similarity in the familyaspect is child rearing. In both cases, children nurturing is asocietal duty. The extended family as well as the surrounding adultslike neighbors are tasked with upbringing of a child. It is alsoevident that both countries embrace English as an official language.Though Cameroon has two official languages i.e. French and English,owing to its split colonial rule, both can communicate in a commonlanguage though with several technicalities in terms ofpronunciation. Both countries embrace the need for education andthough the systems may defer, the target remains the same i.e.education is key. Marriage is also a crucial aspect in both countrieswith much emphasis put on the same.

Onemajor disparity noted in the family setting is polygamy. In Cameroon,it is a common feature to encounter a polygamous family than inJamaica. Men especially chiefs marry many wives while others inheritthem from their fathers and brothers so as to have wider family ties.This is seen as a means of strengthening politically with a chiefhaving power and influence over many people. In terms of schools,girl child education is a major issue among Cameroonians. This ismostly associated with culture since the rural communities do not seethe need of educating girls. However, Jamaica embraces both genderseducation. Though some girls may not get the appropriate education,the cultural ties limiting them are not as stringent as in Cameroon.

TheValues aspect

Valuesin Jamaica

Genderroles is one crucial value across many cultures. In a typicaltraditional based Jamaican family, women are tasked with building andsustaining a home, whereas men are seen as providers. Women aregenerally tasked with chores especially concerning the kitchen. Inthat respect, whatever is to be partaken is generally left to them.On the other hand, men are tasked with provision i.e. they providefor the family. They are tasked with raising and sustaining a family.All the heavy duty tasks within the family are associated to the men.However, with the growing norm of gender equality, women also engagethemselves in provision i.e. they provide for the families.Opportunities have been made equal for both genders leading to thesharing of responsibilities without necessarily following thecultural ways.

Individualismis a norm that is shunned among many families. The cultural settingacross Jamaica does not embrace individualism i.e. self-success.Though there happens to be individuals who do not entirely rely onthe collective aspect of the society, it is not an encouraged virtue.There tends to be a continuous liking to collectivism i.e. successand failures are felt by the society at large rather than anindividual. Collectivism is mostly associated with the extendedfamilies. By embracing collectivism, social inequalities arehenceforth limited. It however, does not insinuate that socialinequalities among Jamaicans does not exist. As a matter of fact, theJamaican people are vastly affected by the widening aspects of socialinequalities. For instance, some people tend to be richer than othersdue to the cultural differences.

Valuesin Cameroon

TheCameroonian people have been approving the changes in gender rolesthough not with equal degrees. For instance, women in a rural settingare given many tasks that limit their movement. Participations infunctions such as politics among other practices associated with menare not open for women to venture in. The fact that men can marrymany wives and even inherit some shows that women roles in thesociety is limited to house work among other chores. Women are notsufficiently empowered to venture into hectic or competitive fieldssuch as politics.

Collectivismin the cultural setting is a common thing. Based on the variouscategories of communal groups, both men and women act in a collectivemanner to ensure survival. Individualism is not condoned within theculture even though there are a few cases of the same. Collectivismis seen in children upbringing. Across Cameroon, migration is acommon feature. A community can therefore choose to collectivelyallow one individual to migrate in search of greener pastures tobenefit the society at large.

However,there tends to be unequal distribution of resources among othersocial amenities within Cameroon. Communities discriminate againsteach other according to the social amenities [ CITATION Ann07 l 1033 ].

Similaritiesand differences according to the values aspect

Bothcountries tend to possess the same ideologies when it comes to genderroles though with different degrees. In a rural set up withinCameroon, women are tasked with roles such as fetching water, cookingamong others in a broadly such that they cannot venture into otheractivities. Their roles are limited within the household with only afew being successful in areas such the political world. However, inJamaica, women empowerment has received a wider backing hence leadingto an intricate description of gender roles. Though both embracewomen kitchen role, the degrees tend to vary. Men in both cases areviewed as bread winners and hence tasked with providing for thefamilies.

Bothcultures embrace collectivism rather than individualism. The successand failures of an individual are felt within the community henceboth participate in bettering themselves. The collectivism aspect isevidenced in both countries when nurturing a child. In both cultures,the society is mandated with child rearing.

Socialinequalities across the two cultures tend to be similar. The socialgaps experienced in Cameroon can be likened with Jamaica even thoughthe extent may vary. It is however a common issue to both countries.

Beliefs

Cameroonianbeliefs

Dueto the huge number of ethnic groups within Cameroon, the beliefs tendto vary accordingly. Roughly 25% of Cameroonians are deeply entangledin traditional modes of worship whereby they find solace in ancestralspirits. There worship and prayers are directed to these ancestralspirits. In accordance to that, they have their own mythical beliefsand superstitions. Most of the people combine both traditions andMuslim or Christian beliefs. A “Marabout (traditional healer)”for example, can give advice to a sick person to write prayers from aKoran. He/she can then dilute the ink and drink it, thus consumingthe holy words.

Folkloresin Cameroon tend to symbolize various things. For example, they havefolklores talking about culture, women rivalry, and pregnancy amongothers. They possess intriguing legends, proverbs and myths from itsdiverse cultural group. Cameroonians have their way of rememberingheroes. A good example of hero is Douala Manga Bell, a braveindividual who resisted German colonizers and was later hanged in1914. His bravery is symbolized in traditional plays and songs thatare passed from one generation to the next [ CITATION Adv151 l 1033 ].

Similaritiesand differences in the belief aspect

Jamaicanfolklores tend to correlate with West African ones. During theslavery period, Africans who crossed to Jamaica brought the practiceswith them. A good example is the Anasi tale. Anasi is viewed indifferent aspects i.e. a spider, human portraying a trickster figure.Tracing such like folklores shows a clear similarity with theCameroonian folktales. Jamaica boasts of a diverse culture due to thedifferent settlers. Their folktales are therefore quite diverse withothers drawn from the Indian and Chinese cultures.

BothJamaica and Cameroon have a strong Christian background or ratherculture. Their religious belief are both drawn from their culturalheritage as well as colonial missionaries.

Similaritiesand differences in the aspect of cultural materials

Carefulreview of the anthropological studies elaborate a striking similarityin culture materials in both Jamaica and Cameroon. This is mostly dueto the fact that Jamaica has African roots. The folk arts, fine artsendowed within Jamaica can be traced back to West African countriesamong them Cameroon. Tracing the history, preservation mechanisms,object interpretation, relations among people, a positive correlationbetween Jamaica and West African countries in this case Cameroon canbe realized. A good example is sharing of trickster tales such asAnasi.

Thedifferences only come along due to the existence of Indians andChinese who moved in during the earlier colonial eras.

Conclusion

Cultureis one intricate matter due to the diversities involved. It is quitediverse across the continents and can be broken down into ethicalbackgrounds. As evidenced above, the Jamaican culture is quite richdue to the different kinds of settlers involved. For example, itentails both the African, Chinese and Indian cultures. Though thecultures may tend to vary, some aspects are common across all thegroups. The Jamaican culture has a substantial ground in terms ofreligion, family matters, and gender roles among others. Cameroon onthe other hand constitutes of a variety of ethical groups but stillmanage to attain some kind of similarity in culture across. Ascompared to the Jamaican culture, similarities such as a sense ofcollectivism can be drawn from the same. Differences such as familypractices like polygamy can also be realized from the same. Inconclusion therefore, though the culture of the two countries tend todefer to some degree, they still resemble in some aspects. It istherefore common to find striking resemblance of cultures across theglobe of people with different ethnical backgrounds.

REFERENCES

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Fleischer, A. (2007). Family, Obligatuons, and Migration: The role of kingship in Cameroon. Family, Obligatuons, and Migration: The role of kingship in Cameroon, 1-30.

Jasper. (2015). Examples of culture. Retrieved from Examples of culture: http://examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-culture.html

Our Africa. (2015). People and Culture. Retrieved from People and Culture: http://www.our-africa.org/cameroon/people-culture

Weebly. (2014). Jamaican Culture. Retrieved from Jamaican Culture: http://jamaicanculture101.weebly.com/family-life.html