Indigenous Knowledge of Health Care and Healing Mechanisms Among The Afar People: The Case of Dewe Community Ethiopia

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Addis Ababa University


Indigenous Medicine is play an important role to solve the health problems of many developing countries like Ethiopia and the WHO recognized the importance of it. Therefore, the main objective of this thesis is to explore the embedded nature of Indigenous medicine within the socio-cultural and religious values of the Afar. Drawing on qualitative research approach, the study employed primary and secondary data collection methods. Primary data were gathered through informal conversation, in- depth interviews and focus group discussion. Secondary data were collected through critical review of related literature and documents. Both primary and secondary data were organized thematically and were analyzed through systematic interpretation and cross- checking of the different data sources through the use of triangulation to increase the validity and reliability of the findings. I was selected informant - based on purposive sampling technique. Secondary data sources from journal articles, books, monographs and websites were used for conceptual framework and theoretical perspectives. Fieldwork was conducted from 2018 June to July 2018. The data were thematically organized and analyzed through systematic interpretation. The main sources of healing wisdom are from parent, Islamic sources like Quran, and through payment. Indigenous medicinal knowledge mostly transferred from father to favorite son based on his good character and strong commitment to serve community. The finding of this study revealed that indigenous medicinal knowledge is intertwined with the core values of Dewe community. In the context of Dewe community, medical care, treatment and perceived causes are defined in the socio cultural context. The findings indicated that the Dewe community view of health, illness and healing mechanism is closely linked to their socio-cultural values. They had holistic view about health. For Dewe community health is the complete well- being of the person’s social, physical, spiritual and emotional. They had several perceptions about causes of illness. They perceived that illnesses might be caused by natural (personal hygiene, environmental sanitation, and seasonal change). Illnesses also caused by supernatural like evil eye, evil spirits and other human agents like sorcerer and witchcraft. This study also revealed that ritual healing persists and meets certain health problems and the purpose of these rituals in healing process is transformation reaches into deep psycho-physiological levels through symbolic manipulation. In the study area, there are three major healing rituals performed namely baxikubur, yaari and kalib gacsa. This study found that several factors could influence the decision making process of people to choose health care options like the nature of illness, perceived illness causation, accessibility, communication and cost. There are three health care options namely home based healthcare system, the indigenous medicine and biomedical health care system. Both indigenous and biomedical health care systems are existing dualistically. There is poor relationship between indigenous healers and biomedical workers. Indigenous healers have appreciated and acknowledged the effort of biomedical workers. However the perceptions of biomedical workers towards indigenous healers are negative.



Indigenous Knowledge of Health Care and Healing Mechanisms Among The Afar People: The Case of Dewe Community Ethiopia