Disability and Traditional Shona Societies
A Reflection on Disability in the Shona Folktales
Disability among the traditional Shona societies was perceived with mixed attitudes and feelings. At one time the Shona would view disability with an abusive and denigrating attitude while at other times they would discourage the abuse and ill-treatment of people with disability. The Shona may view people with disabilities with suspicion because it is generally agreed that such mishaps are related to certain actions or non-actions by parents or family members. The punishment and retribution of vadzimu (ancestors) can be manifested in the form of deformities in the children of the offending persons. Disability is also blamed on the works of jealous witches who do not want to see a certain family having able-bodied children. The diversity of Shona people’s attitudes towards people living with disability has been and is exhibited through taboos and folktales. It is in light of this view that this paper is set to reflect on the rich legacy of traditional Shona taboos and folktales and see the extent to which they exhibit both negative and positive attitudes of the Shona people towards people with disability. The paper will start by giving the beliefs of the Shona people on the types and causes of disability and then proceed to give Shona taboos and folktales which either accommodate or denigrate people with disability. Document and story analysis methods will be used to glean data for this paper.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
The copyright for all articles belongs to the authors. All other copyright is held by the journal.