1 Eryn Wilkes, Jessica Andrus Section 8, Idiosyncrasy Among Cultures

The Himba imaginary world is unique to their culture and explains the wonders of life through ideas that they commonly share which fit well together in their culture. However, the interpretation of these ideas vary among the Himba people. Throughout this paper, six examples will be drawn from Dr. David P. Crandall‟s book, Place of Stunted Ironwood Trees, which display the idiosyncratic understandings of some of the Himba beliefs. People all over the world, including BYU, have their own ideas and idiosyncratic views that also have to be balanced with their society‟s imaginary world. Within the Himba imaginary world, many things are unknown. When things are not clearly marked out, this tends people to start to have different interpretations of the beliefs within their imaginary world. In one instance, a women was missing. They later find her in her house with evidence that she had hung herself (Crandall 224). Their belief is that only Mukuru knows and understands each person on the inside. He is the only one that knows their thoughts and feelings (Crandall 224). This aspect that only Mukuru knows the sufferings of individual people leads others to speculate why a woman would commit such a terrible act. An unnatural death, such as suicide, would not be considered the workings of omiti, because the woman did it to herself. With this situation it would seem that it would be near impossible to pin down a person would was using omiti against her, because she is the one that killed herself. The book says that after a lengthy discussion, they finally decided that the hut should be burned to the ground (Crandall 226). A discussion implies that many different people voiced their opinions and gave their own view of what should be done about a home where a suicide has been committed. Since the book said that the discussion was lengthy, this also reflects that it took a while for the people to come to an agreement, showing that they have different views on the dealing with suicide.

2 Eryn Wilkes, Jessica Andrus Section 8, Idiosyncrasy Among Cultures

However, they were able to come to an agreement showing that their beliefs do fit together, but they just had to talk it out to determine the best and direct course to execute a plan. The Himba people have this idea that a heart is good or bad. Kavetonwa, Mukuru and a stranger were discussing this idea of a bad or good heart. Kavetonwa said that when the brain has an idea, it is transferred to the heart to be determined whether it is good or bad. If someone has a good heart, it will truthfully decide whether the idea is bad or good, however, if someone has a bad heart, it will lead one to commit a wrong doing. Masutwa spoke of his understanding of this belief. He agreed with Kavetonwa‟s words about the good heart, but he had a different insight on a bad heart. This difference was contributed to Masutwa‟s upbringing and what his father taught him (Crandall 101). When the third man spoke, he said that both men were right, because they described the feelings within the body (Crandall 100-103). If they all shared mutual views, no discussion would be necessary because their interpretations would all be identical. However, the fact that these men had to discuss their beliefs of the heart shows that they have idiosyncratic views. Their views are very similar though, they just have a little different understanding. When they‟re discussing this belief they bounce off each other‟s ideas and add more input or put different spins off that idea. Masutwa specifically stated that he agreed with Kavetonwa‟s belief, but his idea of a bad heart was just a little different. Each of their ideas show that they have idiosyncratic view of the heart. When the infant is ready to receive its name, the infant must be presented to the ancestral fire to which it belongs. The ceremony of an infant receiving a name is a big event. Since the ancestral fire is such a focal point in their lives, this ceremony of having the child enter into the protection of the ancestors is a sacred and special (Crandall 68-69). The Himba parents have different ideas when naming their child. A husband and wife were deciding what to name their

3 Eryn Wilkes, Jessica Andrus Section 8, Idiosyncrasy Among Cultures

child. The husband‟s father wanted the child to be called Opore [calm] after his grandmother, but the mother was against this idea. She couldn‟t see how she could name a baby „calm‟ if the baby was the polar opposite. This shows that the grandfather wasn‟t focusing on what the child was reflecting, he was just suggesting the name because it was his former wife‟s name, so it ran in the family. The mother on the other hand name it Hayanda [inexhaustible] because the baby never stopped moving (Crandall 69). The grandfather and mother both believe in the ritual of naming an infant and presenting it to the ancestors, but they have different views on what the name should reflect. Should it reflect the infant‟s true colors or should it be a family name. This discussion and clashing of ideas reflects that they have idiosyncratic views on a baby‟s name because they both believe in naming the baby, but different views on what the name should reflect. The Himba‟s story of how the humans came to roam the earth shapes their own life decisions. In the story, the man and the woman, Masisi and Kamungarunga, unite together in a companionship. Having children, a companionship and cattle are the things that they have and enjoy. This story outlines the way a marriage should be set up (Crandall 94-95). The night before Dakata marries his second wife, he has a conversation with his friends about the ideas of having a wife. He is asked what he likes better, being single or married. The answer he gives reveals nothing about companionship, children or cattle. Dakata then inquires his friend, Mitakamwe, about his opinions on having a wife. Mitakamwe responds by saying their marriage at first wasn‟t like a companionship and that they had no respect for each other. As the marriage went on, they started to act more like a companionship and they also started to raise children and own cattle (Crandall 105). Mitakamwe chose to mirror the example that the first man and woman set for the world. He interpreted this idea literally and chose to mimic the relationship that they

4 Eryn Wilkes, Jessica Andrus Section 8, Idiosyncrasy Among Cultures

shared. Dakata didn‟t look at marriage in the same way. He only stated that he liked having a wife better than being single. Their reasons for having a wife are different, but they both show that they believe that having a wife is important because they both chose to get married. When a man and woman are joint in matrimony, they perform a ritual called ondu jondjova. This ceremony is the slaughtering and cooking of a sheep, which the newly, united couple executes together. It is a ceremony where they get to purify themselves so that they are able to approach Mukuru and their ancestors. This is initiating the wife under the protection of her husband‟s ancestors (Crandall 117). Their ondu jondjova is like part of their physical make up. “Its flesh is like their flesh, its bones like their bones” (Crandall 118). This is a crucial part of the Himba‟s imaginary world, because they value the instruction they receive and the roles that the ancestors play in their lives (Crandall 18). However, a dispute erupts over the color of the sheep between Soloman and Katwerwa‟s brother. The color of sheep that Dakata‟s younger brought was black. In the book, it never defines what color the sheep should be. This is where people are left to their own interpretation of what the color should be. Soloman responds that they must never be black, “everyone knows that!” (Crandall 116). However, never everyone knows that because if they did, this argument wouldn‟t have to take place. Katwerwa‟s brother argues that his was black and his son‟s was black. Soloman says that with his Christian upbringing, all the weddings he witnessed have been done with a white ondu jondjova (Crandall 116). This disagreement on the right color shows that they an idiosyncratic view on this element in their imaginary world. In the Himba culture, having a snake cross your path is not that uncomon, but for someone that had been using the powers of omiti it wasn‟t a surprise (Crandall 138). A snake crossed Katere‟s path twice, within the same day. This caused Katere to fear for his life. Many

5 Eryn Wilkes, Jessica Andrus Section 8, Idiosyncrasy Among Cultures

rumors were being circulated and Katere became an object of speculation (Crandall 136). Katere summoned the Prophet (Crandall 138). Pinpointing the reason behind Katere‟s actions is hard when the whole truth isn‟t revealed. Reading this story, the reader can see the worry that is consuming Katere. If he has been using omiti to speed up his wife‟s death than the incident of the snake is a worrisome matter. However, if Katere was innocent from everything and trying to live a good life, then he should have brushed off the snake instance. Like Katanga said, “It [referring to the snake sighting] doesn‟t mean that something is wrong” (Crandall 136). Most of the people believed that summoning the Prophet was an unnecessary act, but Katere believed that he was doing the right thing. This shows that the people have different beliefs about a snake sighting in their culture, which is part of their imaginary world. The BYU society also has idiosyncratic views of their imaginary world just like the Himba people in Africa. In The Digital Universe, which is the online form of The Daily Universe on BYU campus, it has an article that displays idiosyncratic views. In the LDS Church, woman cannot hold the priesthood and they are also not allowed to attend the Priesthood Session in their General Conference weekend that is held in Salt Lake City. The article reported that the women with in the Mormon society were creating a movement called Ordain Women. This group, according to their website, “are committed to work for equality and the ordination of Mormon women to the priesthood” (Turner). In this statement it reflects that these women believe that the Church is discriminating women. However, not all women believe this because a lot of women believe that the Church is not being sexist in only allowing the men to hold the power of the priesthood. Women get the sacred and divine opportunity to have children. There is not a movement of men protesting their rights to bear children. The LDS Church believes that

6 Eryn Wilkes, Jessica Andrus Section 8, Idiosyncrasy Among Cultures

their God gave both men and women sacred responsibilities in this life. They are not the exact same responsibilities, but they are equal in the eyes of their God. This article reflects the frustrations that some women feel. They believe in the power of the priesthood, but they also believe that women should be able to be ordained so that they can exercise holding the priesthood. While on the other hand, other women in the church also believe in the priesthood, but they know that only men are called of God to hold the priesthood keys. Women throughout the LDS Church believe in the power of the priesthood, but their understanding and interpretation of the priesthood is different, creating idiosyncratic views within their imaginary world. There are also idiosyncratic views all over the world. In England, two medical doctors were being sued because they arranged an abortion because the parents wanted a boy, not a girl. A group of Christian lawyers are suing because the government did not charge them for the abortion. The argument of the doctors was “the Abortion Act of 1967 does not expressly prohibit gender specific abortions” (Scribner). The fact that the Abortion Act doesn‟t specifically say this leads people to interpret the law how they want. The doctors interpreted it by what it actually says, which says nothing about performing an abortion for gender preference reasons. Whereas the Christian lawyers are fighting this because they believe this is not an acceptable reason for an abortion to be performed. This shows that in other societies, people have idiosyncratic views on their laws or in their imaginary worlds. In every culture, there is some form of an imaginary world. Every individual does not think or interpret things in the same way. The common beliefs and ideas that a culture share fits together cohesively to create an imaginary world that shapes the way they live. Throughout the book, Place of Stunted Ironwood Trees, Dr. David P. Crandall is able to show the way the Himba

7 Eryn Wilkes, Jessica Andrus Section 8, Idiosyncrasy Among Cultures

live. Within the stories, he is able to write the idiosyncratic views that the Himba people develop. The BYU and Mormon culture is able to show that they also interpret their views and beliefs differently even though they are given the same information. As well as the England culture, they understand their ideas and beliefs differently which lead to controversy. Each culture is unique and has idiosyncratic views that has to, in some way, balance their imaginary world so that people can live and interact together.

8 Eryn Wilkes, Jessica Andrus Section 8, Idiosyncrasy Among Cultures

Works Cited Crandall, David P. Place of Stunted Ironwood Trees. New York, London: Continuum, 2000. Print. Scribner, Herb. "Gender-based abortions raise controversy in England, Australia." . Deseret News, 12 Oct 2013. Web. 21 Nov 2013. <http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865588246/Gender-based-abortions-raisecontroversy-in-England-Australia.html>. Turner, Samuel. "Sexism in the Church." The Digital Universe. Brigham Young University, 19 Nov 2013. Web. 21 Nov 2013. <http://universe.byu.edu/2013/11/19/sexism-in-thechurch/>.