Roots and Rhythms: An Exploration of Liberian Culture and Traditions

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Culture is the people’s way of life and no society can exist without it. As part of the member of the globe, Liberia is not exempted from culture and society. The Liberian culture reflects its long history as well as diverse ethnicities. The country is located in West Africa along the Atlantic Coast. English is the country’s official language (Olukoju, 2006).

Kenya is a country located in Eastern Africa with a population of around 41.61 million people. The country is named after Mount Kenya and is among the most diverse countries in Africa with 42 distinct ethnic groups. The country’s official languages are English and Swahili. Most of the Kenyans belong to the Bantu tribe like the Luhya, Kikuyu, and Kamba. There also exist Nilotic tribes like Maasai, Luo, Kalenjin, and Turkana (Bale & Sang, 2013).The Kenyan culture consists of multiple trends and the country has no single prominent culture identifying it.

Uganda is also a country in East Africa bordered to the East by Kenya and to the West by the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Ugandan society is comprised of a diverse range of ethnic groups including the Baganda and other tribes. English was the language used during the colonial administration in Uganda and it is still the country’s national language.


Domestic life and kinship in Liberian culture

Different researchers have indicated that just like in other cultures, family life is of much importance to the Liberians. The Liberia culture is known to have strong family ties where young men mostly teenagers marry young girls who are teenagers as well. Liberian people marry at young ages and when a young man grows older he is allowed to marry a second woman. Marrying two or three wives in Liberia is considered to be a sign of wealth, power and status within the tribes. In most cases, the Liberian household is comprised of members of the immediate as well as the extended family. Children are supposed to live with their parents until they are financially independent after which they move out to get married (Olukoju, 2006). Family roles are traditional in the Liberian culture where the man remains to be the family’s financial provider. Additionally, it is the role of men to maintain primary authority over the entire family and the household.  Women on the other hand deal with childcare as well as household duties.

Different research works have indicated that the Liberian community is like an extension of the family. Children can be punished by people outside the family group. Additionally, the Liberian family elders are well respected and highly regarded. For instance, it is an offense for young people to shake hands with an elder. They are supposed to bow their head and slightly bend their knee to show respect.

Kenyan domestic life and kinship

In most of the Kenyan societies just like in Ugandan and Liberian societies marriage is considered to be a rite of passage that every person is supposed to undergo. A Kenyan family is comprised of a wide network of members which involves both the immediate and the extended family. The network of family members acts as a social unit with different beliefs as well as norms (Bale & Sang, 2013). Every kinship relationship in the Kenyan culture derives its legitimacy from the family. Just like in the Liberian society, the man is the head of the Kenyan household and rarely participates in household chores. His main responsibility is to support the family financially. Women are supposed to take care of the children and the home.

The Ugandan domestic life and kinship

In most of the Ugandan societies, the traditional roles of women are subordinate to those of men despite the substantial social and economic responsibilities of women in traditional Ugandan societies. Women are supposed to kneel when speaking to men in public as a show of respect. The man is the head of the family and he is allowed to marry more than one wife (Otiso, 2006). The father is always obeyed and revered as the head of the family and his decisions cannot be questioned. The social status of a man is determined by the people with whom he establishes client relationships. The main way of securing this relationship is through one’s children.

Similarities and differences between the three societies

It is worth noting that the Liberian, Kenyan and Ugandan cultures highly value human life. In the three cultures it is permissible to kill an enemy but in any other cases; no one is supposed to take away another person’s life. Traditionally there was no distinction between murder and manslaughter, both were considered to be murder which was supposed to be punished according to the underlying principles of compensation (Edgerton, Hochschild & Tayler, 2015). Morality is also valued by the three cultures. Different research works have even indicated that moral values formed the basis of the education given to children from the cultures as they grew up.

Additionally, the three cultures have respects for other people’s property. For instance, their children are traditionally socialized to distinguish between stole and legitimately owned goods. Their major idea is to inculcate in the minds of the young generation the virtue of honesty (Edgerton, Hochschild & Tayler, 2015).This explains why the three societies heavily punish any adult who is found stealing or messing with another person’s property. For example, a thief in the Kenyan traditional society had his or her hands tied and a fire was lit to burn dry grass tied around the waist.

However, there are some differences between the three cultures.  For instance, unlike in the Ugandan and Liberian culture, boys and girls from the Kenyan culture had fairly separate upbringing (Edgerton, Hochschild & Tayler, 2015). They were taught different duties and obligations which were specific to their gender. Girls were taught ways of becoming good wives by their mothers and grandmothers while boys were taught how to become warriors by their fathers and grandfathers.

The main social problem affecting the three cultures is gender inequality. Women were highly oppressed by their husbands and the cultures ensured that their place was at home to take care of the children. Women were not allowed to own any property and were being subjected to forced marriage.


It is evident from the above discussion that culture is important to our humanness. This is mainly because it maintains a set of readymade definitions that every person reshapes very little when dealing with different social situations. Additionally, culture offers human beings a blueprint for relating with other.


Bale, J., & Sang, J. (2013). Kenyan running: movement culture, geography and global change. Routledge.

Edgerton, R., Hochschild, A., & Tayler, J. (2015). Culture and Traditions. The Modern World:" Civilizations of Africa"," Civilizations of Europe"," Civilizations of the Americas"," Civilizations of the Middle East and Southwest Asia"," Civilizations of Asia and the Pacific", 38.

Otiso, K. M. (2006). Culture and customs of Uganda. Greenwood Publishing Group.

Olukoju, A. (2006). Culture and customs of Liberia (Vol. 1530, No. 8367). Greenwood Publishing Group.

September 11, 2023

Culture Life Family

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