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Exploring child participation in parental divorce matters in African ind[i]genous communities of KwaZulu-Natal.

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This descriptive, Afrocentric study was aimed at exploring child participation in parental divorce matters in indigenous African communities of KwaZulu-Natal. The research paradigm, methodology, principles, values, and processes underpinning this study were framed within the context of the Afrocentric philosophical and theoretical perspective. Since the study focused on African knowledge and value systems, it thus placed the African people, their culture, and experiences at the centre. The data were generated from the perspectives of indigenous Black African people. This study adopted a qualitative research approach and utilised a descriptive Afrocentric research design. Semi-structured interviews were used as data collection tools. The participants were selected using the purposive and snowball sampling techniques. The total sample was fourteen, of whom nine were senior community members and five were indigenous leaders who have facilitated divorce mediation in indigenous African communities. The data collected were then analysed using thematic analysis. The findings have revealed that mediation is an ancient practice and a system that has been addressing the needs of children in indigenous African communities. The indigenous African people cherish mediation not as a single incidence but as a way of life that is embedded in the indigenous African family systems. The study further revealed that in the indigenous setting child participation occurs in various forms both direct and indirect forms and occurs in different stages of a couple’s marital life. In indigenous African communities, child participation begins from the period of pregnancy. Thus, the concept of child participation is better understood through an understanding of the role children play in indigenous African marriages and family system. The child’s role in mediation is culturally defined and relates to their phase of development and the sequence of childbirth from the firstborn to the last-born child. In this study, mediation has therefore been discussed as an accessible, appropriate communication platform, a unit of psychosocial support, and a costless emotional support system embedded in African indigenous settings.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.