Discourse analysis of the gender power dimensions on the metaphors used in bride wealth negotiations among the kikuyu ethnic group of Kenya.

Author: Racheal Nyambura Njenga (University of Nairobi)
Speaker: Racheal Nyambura Njenga
Topic: Anthropological Linguistics
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL AFALA 2022 General Session


Gender equality and empowering of all women and girls is central to sustainable development, to achieve gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls there is a need to understand the gender gap and the position of women in society. This call for good knowledge on the socio-cultural, historical, political and economic position of women, such knowledge will help inform interventions and policies aimed at improving the position of women in Africa. One of the most studied cultural intuitions is marriage, together with its myriad implications for gender power relations. This is because one of the social realities that derive meaning from language use is gender. Marriage in Africa is a complex affair involving the payment of bride wealth. Most countries in Africa celebrate the payment of bride wealth as an inessential part of marriage. Pride wealth is an important aspect of the Kikuyu social-cultural practice and an important aspect of the customary law marriages in Kenya. Despite the popular support of pride price payment by different cultures in Kenya, few studies have given the focus on the social structure and language used in bride wealth negotiation as a tool to enact power and exert influence on the family. If culture is a product of human interaction, then it follows that cultural manifestations are acts of communication that are assumed by particular speech communities. Being a communication medium par excellence, language always carries meanings and references beyond itself. To interact with a language means to do so with the culture which is its reference point. Therefore, it is not possible to understand a culture without having direct access to its language. The use of language is invariably contingent upon the context, the basis of the speech community. A central feature of the speech community is the metaphor. Kikuyu bride wealth negotiations discourse is metaphorical. It is difficult to have conversations about the bride and bride wealth without resorting to using metaphor. In an attempt to understand the social position of a Kikuyu woman the study looks at the structure and different stages in bride wealth negotiation, and the conceptual metaphor in the bride wealth payment negotiation discourse. The study is carried out in three counties namely Kiambu,Muranga and Nyeri. The study use a descriptive research design, both interviews and actual record examples of marriage negotiations are used as the basis of the data analysis.

Keywords: Bride wealth, Social structure, Metaphor, Conceptual metaphor. Metaphorical linguistic expressions