Changing Perspectives on Aging

By: Esther Chelule  

The Kipsigis community is a sub-group of the Kalenjin ethnic group that lives in the Rift Valley of Kenya. The aging process among the Kipsigis was viewed positively and admired because aging was a stage in life where one gained status in the community. They officiated traditional wedding ceremonies, joined the council of elders, and settled disputes, The aged were the wisest whose wisdom was sought by all in the community. The aged passed values and taboos to the younger people. The age taught the young men while aging women taught younger women. Even punishment was decided by the aged group. These responsibilities came with respect accorded to the aged. This was in the years before the year 1960. The onset of the rural urban migration, which led to the individualistic attitude where the people abandoned their cultures from their home background , including the neglect of the aged. The people in the urban areas stay away from the old people and hence fail to interact the aged who then became neglected because of the nature of their work. The roles which were played by the elderly like leadership, settling disputes, marriage ceremonies are these days officiated by academically trained young people hence creating a generation gap. The leaders are democratically elected as opposed to subscribed roles of leadership. The objective of this paper is to identify the challenges faced by the aged and the dynamics of aging, as well as the effects of aging on the Kipsigis community.

Social and Cultural Perspectives on Aging
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Esther Chelule