Indigenous knowledge, beliefs and practices on pregnancy and childbirth among the Ndau people of Zimbabwe.
Hlatshwayo, Anniegrace Mapangisana.
MetadataShow full item record
Framed within a postcolonial indigenous research paradigm, the study used a phenomenological analysis drawing on the case study of the Ndau people of south-eastern Zimbabwe, to explore the contribution of African indigenous knowledge systems on pregnancy and childbirth. The study is based on the argument that currently the dominance of Western knowledge systems, including biomedicine, created a situation that even reproductive beliefs and practices in African local settings tend to be conceptualized from Western ways of knowing and value systems. Limited number of studies have focused on the socio-cultural context of pregnancy and childbirth. People live in diverse cultural and ecological settings which influence their knowledge systems including reproductive social and cultural practices. The case of the Ndau women of south-eastern Zimbabwe reflected the agency and centrality of African women in managing pregnancy and childbirth using their own community-based knowledge systems which are culturally and ecologically relevant, affordable and sustainable. The research study also advances the theoretical premise that while it is important to acknowledge the power relations in knowledge production and the centrality of African cultural interests in every social practice and analysis, as propagated by the advocates of Afrocentric paradigms including Postcolonial African feminism, it is crucial to recognise that we are living in a poly-epistemic world composed of different and diverse knowledge systems which are supposed to be complementary rather than competitive. As a contribution to knowledge production, the research brought a new approach to the analysis of the socio-economic and demographic characteristics of the research participants. These have been investigated as statistical variables without looking at their socio-cultural significance to the research community in relation to the research problem. An analysis of the Indigenous Knowledge, Beliefs and Practices on Pregnancy and Childbirth among the Ndau People of Zimbabwe showed that socio-economic and demographic characteristics of the research participants such age groups, marital status, gender, etc. have community-based cultural meanings attached to them. Research findings also demonstrated the significance of understanding and appreciating the historical impact of colonialism on Ndau indigenous beliefs and practices on pregnancy and childbirth. This led to a critical analysis of Ndau cosmological belief systems before and after colonialism. This was important in creating the basis for re-covering, re-awakening, and re-claiming of Ndau indigenous knowledge, beliefs and practices on pregnancy and childbirth. The findings reflecting the continued use of indigenous modes of managing pregnancy and childbirth despite the medicalisation of antenatal care, demonstrates the need to create a dialogue between biomedical and indigenous models on managing pregnancy and childbirth. The research demonstrated that the preservation of IKS is critical as it ensures the prolongation of communities and their knowledge systems. The indigenous oral modes of preserving IKS for posterity have been affected by modernisation which is characterised by rural-urban migration and family disintegration resulting in loss of time and space for elders to pass family traditions to the younger generations. In view of such, documentation, archiving, use of information technology and establishment of indigenous knowledge centres (IKCs) were viewed as alternate methods of preserving IK for posterity. The study recommended more research to be done on indigenous pharmacopoeias, their perceived therapeutic properties and associated rituals on promoting safer health care models for managing pregnancy and childbirth.