Similarities and Differences between Kenyan and American Cultures

Culture refers to the manner in which people lead their daily  lives, their beliefs, customs and way of life. Cultures differ from one country to another, from one community to another. While cultures may present distinct characteristics which make them different from others, there are some characteristics which they share with other cultures. This is evident in the similarities and differences in family and work between Kenyan culture and American culture. The main reason of studying the differences and similarities between various aspects of the Kenyan culture and the American culture is to give a better understanding of each culture. This helps understand why people act the way they do, thus preventing culture shock. Culture involves a lot and in this essay I will discuss the several aspects of it which includes freedom, family, religion, food, work, and social situations.
Kenyan Culture

Freedom is a key aspect in the Kenyan culture. There is freedom to do a number of things which is enshrined in the Kenyan constitution. This is referred to as the Bill of Rights and if any right is violated then a person may sue for violation of such rights (Ochieng,  2009).
The difference however, is that in Kenya, although freedom is a constitutional right, there are many instances that it is curtailed by the government. Freedom in the Kenyan culture is thus not a key characteristic.

Just like any other society, the family is the basic social unit of the society. Both the American culture and Kenyan culture value the family unit very highly. One is considered of a higher social status if they have a family in both societies.

Unlike the Kenyan culture where families are quite large, the American families are somewhat small with the average children being two. While most mothers in America work far away from home, parents whose children have attained the age of maturity live separately from their children. The Kenyan culture is characterized by large families where the nuclear family consists of a husband, wife, children and the extended family which is made up of the nuclear family and close relatives (Githieya, 2009).

Religion is another aspect that is inseparable with culture. Both Kenya and America accommodates many religions although the biggest population in both countries professes Christian faith. Another similarity is that in both cultures, running of the state and church is separated so that those in charge of the government are not concerned with the running of the church as it was during the Bible times. The two countries are thus secular states with no particular favor given to any religion (Watson, 2000).

Freedom of worship is another similarity in both cultures so that other religions other than Christianity are allowed to worship provided that the manner in which it is carried out does not in any way contravene the provisions of the constitution. However in both America and Kenya since more than half of the population is composed of Christians, then Sunday is not considered a working day and major Christian celebrations are regarded as national holidays like Easter and Christmas. This however does not mean that other religions are less since Idi Fitri for the Muslims is also considered a public holiday. In America, Christmas is the only religious festival that is celebrated nationwide with all offices of the government remaining closed.

In the Kenyan culture, working hours are between ten to twelve hours a day depending on the institutions of work. People working on the high rankings tend to work less hours and get more pay. They have long breaks in between the day schedule and enjoy much freedom unlike the low ranks who toil for more hours, have less freedom and earn peanuts (Albanese, 2008).
American Culture

Freedom in the American culture is the building block. It is a right guaranteed by the constitution and puts limits on the extent to which the government can interfere with the personal life of an American citizen.

Food is an aspect of culture that cannot be ignored as it is more often than not appears distinct in most cultures. In America, the easiest way of getting to know the preferences of Americans in terms of food is to go through a menu in one of their restaurants. This is because restaurants always offer what is most popular and preferred by many (Sobania, 2003).
In Kenya there are a variety of foods, most of which are traditional. Kenya has many tribes and every tribe has what is known as the staple food. This is the food that is liked by many in that particular community. For that reason Kenya has a wide variety of food owing to the large number of communities that make up the country.

In America dinner is the most crucial meal of the day and thus it is this meal that is served heavier in comparison to breakfast and lunch. Most of the American meals consist of meat either white or red which is served with some form of starch. A salad made of lettuce is served at the start of dinner.

An ordinary working day for a Kenyan starts at eight oclock in the morning and ends at five oclock in the evening. That is the official schedule for those working in government offices. This schedule sometimes varies especially for those who work in the private sectors. This schedule is pretty similar to that of the Americans as their work day also runs for eight hours. In both countries working days are from Monday through Friday with Saturdays and Sundays being classified as weekends (Civitello, 2003).

A major difference though is that while more than 40 percent of the workforce in Kenya is men, it is the reverse in the American workforce with close to fifty percent being comprised of women. In America, the lunch break lasts an hour, and in most cases, less than an hour. This explains why dinner in the American culture is considered the most crucial meal.

Social Situations
Social situations in both countries are pretty similar and even so with most other cultures of the world. Greeting for example is common in both cultures especially when people meet in a public place, an office, or even on the road. The American culture is however is more accommodating and friendly to strangers in comparison to the Kenyan culture. While an American will smile and exchange greetings with a stranger, a Kenyan is likely to pass without a word if they met with a stranger (Garbaccia, 1998).

Although Kenya and America are vastly far apart, they share quite a few similarities in their way of life. Learning and understanding cultures of other people, such as the Kenyan and American cultures, is extremely important. This helps to avoid the habit of being ethnocentric. It also prevents culture shock and above understanding of the two cultures creates some closeness and people are able to understand and even share a lot which overall creates togetherness.


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