Indigenous societies and communities have since time immemorial pursued a co-operative and reciprocal lifestyle. However, this communal system has been disturbed by several factors which include but are not limited to; emigration, acculturation, western education, industrialisation and urbanisation. These factors are on the contrary limited in that some sort of communal system continues to prevail in indigenous societies. The aim of this paper is to interrogate the factors that affect the communal system in indigenous societies.
Emigration is one of the chief factors that affect the communal system in indigenous societies. It should be noted that with the rising rates of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, which Zimbabwean communities are part of, many have emigrated from the country to Europe, Asia and America to seek greener pastures. This has affected the communal system in indigenous societies since they have been robbed of the members who should be key participants of the co-operative system of livelihoods. However, emigration’s bearing on the communal system in indigenous communities is questionable as the remaining populace remains high and enjoying a natural increase. Thus, emigration is one of the essential factors that affect the communal system in indigenous communities.
Acculturation is yet another factor that affects the communal system in indigenous societies. Acculturation which refers to the infiltration of foreign and exotic cultures in the indigenous ways of life has demoted communalism or a togetherness lifestyle to an individualistic lifestyle. This is because western cultures which have permeated indigenous communities have led to the abandonment of ceremonies such as communal cultivation (nhimbe). This has then affected the communal system in indigenous societies. However, acculturation as a factor is limited in that some communities still have their cultural values intact. This cannot then dismiss acculturation as a factor that affects the communal system in indigenous communities. Therefore, acculturation is one of the factors that affect the communal system in indigenous societies.
Western education is another factor that has hindered the communal system in indigenous societies. It should be highlighted that western education which was born out of colonization has deeply affected the communal system in indigenous societies. This western education has brought about a dislike of indigenous communal systems for example rain-inducing/ making (mukweerera) ceremonies which have been ascribed to barbarism and evil. As a result, many have aborted the indigenous communal system and crossed ship to foreign ethics which attract appraisal in the western education. However, it is also prudent to note that western education has been defeated by indigenous education in some communities as it the later has continued to prevail in some societies. This does not rubber stamp the fact that western education has affected the communal system in indigenous communities. Hence, western education has greatly affected the communal system in Indigenous societies.
Industrialisation is another factor that has affected the communal system in indigenous societies. It is important to highlight that with the establishment of foreign-drawn industries in Zimbabwe, many have sought employment hence spending the majority of their time in these workplaces thereby neglecting their communal activities such as working on the king or chief’s field (zunde ramambo). More so, with invention of industrial creatures such as tractors, planters and combine harvestors the need to collectively carry out a communal activity like collective farming has sharply dissipated. However, the effects of industrialization on the indigenous communal system are arguably far-reaching as the communal system is unfolding smoothly in some societies like Uzumba-Marambapfungwe which have not had any meaningful industrialization. This cannot be used to dismiss industrialisation as a factor that has affected the indigenous communal system. Thus, industrialisation has greatly affected the indigenous communal lifestyle.
Urbanisation is yet another outstanding factor that has affected the communal system in indigenous societies. This is because urbanisation which refers to the transformation of rural areas to urban areas has been on an upward trajectory and as such led to the adoption of the individualist lifestyle which is opposed to the communal lifestyle. This shift from rural to urban areas is accompanied by one focusing on his family wants than societal needs as people remain confined in the their gated doorstep, detached from the outside collective affairs. It is against this background that urbanisation can be argued to be a factor that has affected indigenous communal system. On the contrary, urbanisation has had limited effects on communal lifestyle since even in urban societal setups, indigenous ethics and ethos have truimped with one’s humanness being evident in their collabourative lifestyle. This is evidenced in indigenous peoples having collective gatherings at funerals even in urban setups which confirm that urbanisation had been arrested by unhu/ubuntu values from disturbing indigenous communal systems. This cannot wholly displace the fact that urbanisation is a key factor that has affected indigenous communal systems. Therefore, urbanisation has greatly affected the communal system in indigenous societies.
To sum up, this paper has interrogated the several factors that are hindering the communal system in indigenous societies. Among many factors include; emigration, acculturation, western education, industrialisation and urbanisation. However, these forces have been constrained by indigenous education and the deep-rooted indigenous values from entirely rendering useless the indigenous communal system. From the above evaluation, one can conclude that there are numerous factors that have affected the communal system in indigenous societies.