Gender roles in African oral literature: a case study of initiation songs among the Igembe people of Meru of Kenya
This article examines and critically analyses gender images in initiation songs among the Igembe community, an African ethnic group of Eastern Bantu in Kenya. The article traces the evolution of the concept of gender from Plato’s time to 21st century and places it within the Igembe people’s worldview using initiation songs as a point of reference. It is revealed that both man and woman play a crucial and complimentary role in the socio-economical life in Igembe community. However, despite the crucial role that women play, they are devalued due to societal attitudes and beliefs as evident in the initiation songs analysed.
Keywords: gender roles, African oral literature, initiation songs, Igembe people