The most important factor that influences the social organization of the Turkana is their environment.
The wet season is a major factor in the Turkana social organization. Because there is less concerns about the animals and water supply, more time is devoted to social interaction. This is a time where stock friends form, which are the most important types of relationships in Turkana life. The wet season is when social life is at its peak.
Draughts are another type of environmental factor which play a major role in social interaction in the Turkana life. Draughts divide social ties. The different types of animals must be seperated and taken to different locations that suit their environmental needs. For example, certain animals require a certain type of foliage, and certain types of water. People must be split apart to care for these groups of animals. This requires extra labor. To have enough labor for these kind of occasions, families have as many children as possible. Other relatives that are staying with more wealthy awis. Occasionaly they will hire labor, although this is a rare thing. Social gatherings rarely happen during a draught. There will certainly be no weddings. No ceremonies or circumsitions will take place.
Another social function that relates closely to the Turkana environment is the digging of wells. When there are no open water sources available, wells must be dug. They can range from very shallow wells that everyone can use, to wells that are perhaps 5 people deep. Although digging these wells is very hard work, it gives the chance for people to get together. They don’t see this as very different from any other social function that doesn’t incldue labor because the Turkana do not seperate work from leisure. In our society these are two very distinct things, but the Turkana do not distinguish between them as much as Western culture.
The environment which the Turkana live in very much dictates the social organization of their culture. As the seasonal changes vary, the amount of social interaction varies with them.
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