Decline and change in the Milaka and Sikenge institutions of the Lozi : 1886-1975
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This dissertation examines how and why the indigenous educational institution of milaka died out and that of sikenge changed in the period 1886-1975. In pre-colonial Bulozi, the institutions of milaka for boys and sikenge for girls were important in transmitting Lozi' norms and values and in preparing boys and girls for their social and economic roles as adults in the Lozi society. In the twentieth century, however, the institution of milaka died out and the sikenge institution underwent change. In examining the dying out of milaka and the change in sikenge, the dissertation focuses on changes that were taking place both within and outside Bulozi. In chapter one, we discuss the evolution and functions of milaka and sikenge institutions in the pre-colonial period. The evolution of the two institutions was closely related to the social and economic activities of the Lozi. We examine the influence of the Bulozi flood plain, the arrival of the Mbunda, the Kololo and the ila slaves on the development of the milaka institution. We also discuss the influence of the Mbunda and the Kololo on the development of sikenge. In chapter two, we discuss the dying out of milaka education and the change in sikenge. In particular, we discuss the impact of cattle trade, cattle diseases, the introduction of the Christian faith, the western school system and wage labour on milaka. A combination of these factors led to the abandonment of milaka education by both the milaka instructors and the initiates. In sikenge, the introduction of the Christian faith led to the abandonment of some of the taboos and other sikenge practices that were not in line with Christian life. The influence of the western school system, urbanization and the trade in western domestic wares brought about the abandonment of some of the skills taught in sikenge. The period of sikenge was adjusted in order to suit the school calendar. As a result of the Christian influence and urbanization, three versions of sikenge had emerged by the end of colonial rule. These were the village, the Christian and the urban versions of sikenge. In chapter three, we have shown the role of accelerated social and economic change in the post independence period in bringing about further change in sikenge. Though sikenge was still commonly practised by 1975, it had lost most of its functions. It was, however, still practiced because of the continued importance of female labour in the domestic economy. Sikenge also survived because of the support it received from the Lozi male population, elders and parents who continued to see its importance in producing a woman who was acceptable to both the husband and the Lozi society at large. Its position, however, was threatened by a few educated women who saw it as perpetuating the oppression of women by men and by the initiates who no longer saw the need for preparing for married life at a time when one was not ready for such a life.