A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF INTRA-CULTURAL MARRIAGE IN AMA ATTA AIDO’S ANOWA AND EFUA T SUTHERLAND’S THE MARRIAGE OF ANANSEWA
Background to the study
The term “culture” has been defined differently by various scholars. In general, culture describes the way of life of a group of people. Stephen Greenblat in his essay “culture”, quotes the influential anthropologist, Edward B Tyler’s definition of culture as : “Culture or civilization, taken in its wide ethnographic sense is that complex whole which includes knowledge, art, morals, law, custom and any other capabilities and the habits acquired by man as a member of society.” (p. 225). Greenblat’s definition of culture seems to embody almost everything that is part of the society.
Raymond Willams (1983) also states in his Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society, that the word “culture is one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language.” This he says is so partly because of the historical development of the word in several European languages. But basically, it is because the word “has now come to be used for the important concepts in several distinct and incompatible systems of thought.” He further points out that the word’s immediate forerunner is the latin word cultura which is derived from the latin word colere which means “ cultivate, protect, honour with worship.”(p.87) Williams recognizes three broad categories of the usage of the word culture as a result of the various stages through which the word has developed.
These are: (i) the independent and abstract noun which described a general process of intellectual and aesthetic development; (ii)the independent noun, whether used generally or specifically, which indicates a particular way of life, a period, a group or humanity in general, from Herder and Klemm. But we have also to recognize (iii) the independent abstract noun which describes the works and practices of and especially artistic activity. (p.90)
In his work, Culture and Anarchy, Mathew Arnold, one of the proponents of the term culture, defines it as:
A pursuit of our total perfection by means of getting to know, on all matters which most concern us, the best which has been thought and said in the world and through this knowledge, turning a stream of fresh and free thought upon our stock notions and habits which we now follow staunchly but mechanically, vainly imagining that there is virtue in the following them staunchly which makes up for the mischief of following them mechanically. (p.6)
Arnold believes that no society can achieve total perfection without adhering to the values of its culture. He separates religion from culture and describes the perfection that society achieves through cultural adherence as “sweetness and light”. He admits that religion plays a major role in perfecting society but that what religion achieves is inadequate. Arnold further points out that, society can only achieve true perfection through strict adherence to culture.
The various definitions of culture show that culture is indispensable. There is therefore the need to enforce cultural values in order to sustain the society. In much the same way, Stephen Greenblat points out that “western literature over a long period has been one of the great institutions for the enforcement of cultural boundaries through praise and blame.”
Various definitions of culture have been given but for the purpose of this study, emphasis will be laid on the definition by Raymond William that is, “a particular way of life of a people.