Awareness creation,  Disability and Culture

African Culture and Disability, Experiences of People with Disabilities: Part Nine.

Native African ways of beliefs about disability in general and people with disabilities are so ambivalent because they portray disability and disabled people in a mixture of both positive and negative lights. In a negative way, most African beliefs characterize disability as affliction where disability is seen as an abnormality that represents impoverishment or destruction of the force of life hence suggesting that something has to be done to restore normalcy.

Disability, which is considered a diminished life-force is therefore not welcome and in many instances confronted by traditional practices as well as religious exercise. This is done by some members of the society who are considered specialists who in turn attribute all afflictions to the actions or compliance of various mystical or trans-empirical realities such as curses, witchcraft, the ancestors, and God the Creator.

In the African setting, all types of physical and psychological impairment are seen to be afflictions that must be counteracted with all means necessary which are termed as traditional therapies for mental or physical illnesses ranging from physical deformity, social stress, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and so forth. Just like other human traditions in the African setting or worldwide in general that objectify and stigmatize disability as either punishment from the gods or the ancestors, or as a punishment for doing wrong or defying the social rules, traditional African cultures portray the disabled as victims of either witchcraft or ancestral anger due to their moral indiscretion and this leads to discrimination which is often times passed on to their families and anyone who associates with them. This makes them to be often looked at as virtual outsiders who have to be ritually, morally, and physically cleansed of their affliction before they can be reintegrated into human society. For instance, the indigenous African religions interpret mental illness as an affliction that can best be contained by diviners or mediums who have the capacity to establish the cause of the disability and the best way to cleanse it

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