Healing and Religion in Africa. Therapy Management Group and Cosmology Among the BaKongo
Bachelor Thesis from the year 2000 in the subject Theology - Practical Theology, grade: 1,0, , language: English, abstract: In this essay I will look at the medical system of the people of Kongo in Lower Zaire. My account is based on the fieldwork done by John M. Janzen among the BaKongo in the late 60s, early 70s. He offers a concrete description of six cases and examines them.
I chose a typical case of these, namely patient Lwezi. Diagnosis and treatment of a BaKongo patient are skillfully directed by the institution of therapy management group, a group made up of the kin of the patient, which takes care of the well-being of the ill. This institution is strongly influenced by the cosmology of the BaKongo and is vital for the therapy. The major features in Lwezi's healing-process were the therapy management group, the paternal blessing and the payment of the bride price, each of which I will refer to in the following sections.
Many people think that the healing practices of traditional societies are irrational, but I will show that for the BaKongo medical practices must engage with the supernatural in order to guarantee healing. To anthropologists and many non-BaKongo, the medical system in Lower Zaire appears to consist of various medical traditions, be it the traditional BaKongo therapies or the Western conventional medicine.
The general perception is that the latter is not only universally applicable but might eventually replace traditional medical practices. I will show that only by taking into account the BaKongo way of healing, especially the therapy management group with its unique perception of illness and healing, is successful cure of these people possible.