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America has almost all races in the world and therefore becomes a complex for multicultural experiences. With the Green card lottery that leads to about fifty thousand immigrants coming to America, the cultural diversity continues to expand. It is important to understand the cultures of the people in America and most especially the immigrants since they offer more diversity and their cultures are not mixed with the western cultures. I thus conducted an interview on one of the immigrants so that I can understand his culture and know how those people need to be related with. This essay presents the interview results from my study.
My interviewee is an immigrant from Kenya who has been in America for about six years now and working in the information technology industry. His name is John Ndirangu and he goes to the same church as me. The reason I decided to pick him for the interview is that he comes from Africa and therefore his culture is obviously very different from mine. Secondly, he is an outgoing person who loves his country and traditions. He likes sporting a cap with the Kenyan national flag with the inscription “I Love Kenya”. In fact, that is how I noticed him in the first place. When I approached him and requested to have an interview about his culture he was very elated that somebody in America wanted to know about his culture. Apparently he had never been interviewed before and therefore he was even more a good candidate. Furthermore, he made me feel at ease and welcomed me to ask him anything. Quoting his words, he said, “I know it might be difficult for you to ask me some questions probably because you do not want to sound stereotypic or offend me but do not be embarrassed, ask me anything.”
I conducted the interview on face to face questioning because he seemed very eager to tell me everything and much more because he was very much at ease to telling me this. I do not know where the guy lives or where he works and therefore I had to wait for him in the church and approached him after the mass. I should mention that the guy is quite interesting and friendly that many people like chatting with him after mass and it was a bit hard getting him away from the many friends. However, he is very understanding and therefore immediately he learned of my intentions, he welcomed me to sit with him at a bench in the churchyard where we would not be disturbed. He said that this was the best spot for the interview because he would be more at ease with me than anywhere else. Although may be I would have liked to do the interview some where else at a social joint, I wanted him to be at ease and above all I did not want to be in the way on his schedule. The most important thing in this interview was to learn as much as I could about the culture back home and how he managed it here in America.
First I learned that in Kenya, the home place of my interviewee, there are different tribes, about 42, and they all had unique cultures. He informed me that although he might know something about other cultures, he would be distorting it if he told me cultures other than his own tribe, the kikuyu. I learned that before Christianity came to Africa, the Agikuyu worshipped a god that they believed hailed on Mount Kenya and there worshipped facing the mountain. They were not superstitious although some of the sub clans were.
On marriages, I learned that it was must for anybody wishing to marry a woman pay a bride price which was in form of sheep and cows. That was then before Christianity and colonization. However, he pointed out that the tradition is still very important even today although bride price is now paid in cash. He further indicated that elders were the ones who took the bride price and not the young man wishing to marry a lady. On the matter of romance, he informed me that it was not their cultural practice to display their love publicly and much more, a lady had to wait for a man to propose and could not take the first step. He added that incase there is a relationship between couples and a child was born out of wedlock, the boy would pay a fine and still be forced to marry the woman so that he could take his responsibility as a father.
Disputes arising between family members and the clan were settled by a council of elders and the decision they made was sealed by taking a traditional brew made with honey to symbolize unity. They were also friendly with other communities and there were those tribes that they could intermarry with while it was against tradition to intermarry with others.
Finally, the most interesting thing of all is that they could not count how many children one had as it was considered a bad omen. Also boys were valued than girls and therefore a man who had sons was highly respected against a man who only had daughters. He insisted that many of the practices have been dropped and now even girls could inherit their father’s property but some are still important for the community. He pointed out that he respected the culture and traditions of his forefathers as they had kept the community united.
The interview was quite interesting and informative as my interviewee was very responsive, understanding, eloquent and most of all knowledgeable about his culture. It should be noted that cultural practices are changing with time and immigration but most importantly religion had great impacts on culture.