Child Resilience, Survival, and Development: Voices of Orphans in Zimbabwe

Child Resilience, Survival, and Development: Voices of Orphans in Zimbabwe

Racheal Mafumbate (University of South Africa, South Africa)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2578-3.ch015
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This chapter draws on a study which was conducted over a period of one and half years on orphans in Zimbabwe. While this chapter discusses extensive issues around resilience, survival and development of children, the highlights on their wellness are critically engaged with as well. The aim is to provide empirical insights to current and emerging debates on experiences of orphans especially from a developing country's perspective and Zimbabwe in particular. Drawing on the Ubuntu theory and the Wellness theory, the chapter consists of two sections. In section one; the chapter shall conceptualise the notions of Child Resilience, Survival and Development and further explore Ubuntu and Wellness through a theoretical lens. In section two there will be an in-depth discussion on issues around resilience, survival and development of orphans and how these are impacting their wellness.
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Historically, it is argued that in African Traditional Communities, there were “no orphans” since every child belonged to the whole community. The whole community ensured that each orphan got proper support and care, thereby confirming Mbiti’s (1969) proverbial saying; “I am because we are”. People cherished living in large numbers sharing whatever they had as well as observing the expected norms and values and imparting them to their children. The African community used to be one but extended large family and all African languages generally still have words for uncles, aunts’ cousin and niece who comprise the entire family (Kanu, 2010). Marriage was taken as a good and serious commitment in the sense that it is a covenant between two (extended) families, kindred and villages. “Living together” and the sense of “community of brothers and sisters” are the basis of, and the expression of, the extended family system in Africa. This arrangement guaranteed social security for the poor, old, widowed, and orphaned children which is one of the most admired values in the traditional African socio-economic arrangement. This communitarian culture does not exist in the Western perspective which is characterised by individualism and the nuclear family structure. In the African community, a man had the obligation to cater for the widow and orphans of his deceased relative. Failure to do so earned him strong public rebuke and as a result, it was difficult to find someone in the community without help (Kanu, 2010). In essence, the extended family was a veritable instrument in the family cohesion and community continuity and stability. However, it is noted that with the advent of urbanisation and westernisation, most of the families are now a nuclear family in nature and as consequence weakened the social security structures.

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