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Re-Engaging Cultural Perspectives on Disability Discourse: An Analysis of the Bakossi and Isixhosa Oral Traditions

Enongene Mirabeau Sone, Mfusi Hoza



A healthy society is one where members make efforts to work together as people from diverse backgrounds towards achieving society’s goals. Although this seems to be a difficult task, some societies have made, and continue to make conscious efforts to achieve this purpose by enacting laws that prohibit discrimination based on disability, race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity and colour. This article examines the perceptions and conceptualisations of disabilities as portrayed in the Bakossi and isiXhosa oral traditions of Cameroon and South Africa respectively. The article argues that the oral traditions of these communities are heavily loaded with images that highlight stereotypical notions that these societies hold towards disabled persons. The images reveal that these categories of people are the most stigmatised, prejudiced and marginalised. In other words, people with disabilities have been pushed to the margins of society, and face socially-constructed barriers that prevent them from fully participating in many domains of society’s mainstream activities. Undertaken against the background of the sociological and psychoanalytic theories, the study concludes by recommending that inasmuch as disabled people are recognised as existing among the Bakossi and amaXhosa, they should be wholly integrated into their respective societies and treated like other members of the society; as some of them have hidden potentials that can be exploited to salvage society from various trials and tribulations.


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