Awareness creation,  Disability and Culture,  Disability Stereotypes

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

It is found that people with disabilities and their families have had a shift in attitudes and views towards disability hence getting a strong positive viewpoint on disability. Disability in these cases is viewed as a gift from the Supreme Being whose causes are said to be diseases, accidents and natural causes. This therefore is a clear indication that indeed disability bears both the positive and negative societal perceptions and this in a way makes it seem like the societal cultures have a higher hand in determining how people with disabilities ought to relate with their environments. There are many local beliefs about disability and they are interpreted in ways that compromise the dignity, self-esteem, self-worth, feelings of belonging of persons with disabilities. Disability, culturally is attributed to aspects like; curse, witchcraft, disobedience to the gods and ancestors and so forth. On the other hand, we find that even though some communities have negative cultural beliefs and practices regarding disability which plays a big role in how people interact with the disabled, there is change in the situation in social circles like immediate families and close people to the disabled.

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On matters culture and disability, there is need for research and study to contribute towards filling the gaps in evidence on the reality of disability as a life occurrence that has no relation to culture and at the same time look out to demystify the societal need for cleansing the disabled before re-integrating them into the society. There are groups of people who work in the disability movement who need to be brought on board during data collection on disability studies, these include but are not limited to; disability rights advocates, self-advocates, disabled people’s organizations and above all, persons with disabilities themselves. This helps to know how to approach the social and cultural challenges that face persons with disabilities and their roots in culture and society. The findings of such studies can be used by persons with disabilities to understand how their exclusion has been contributed to by their cultures and how to best counter that. For the purposes of community leaders, such types of studies are significant because they will give an understanding of how the cultures have played a role in the marginalization and discrimination of people with disabilities. The scholars need to work side by side with disability experts in order to find out where there exists research gaps on the relationship between marginalization of the disabled and the cultural beliefs and practices.

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