Modernization of Health Practices in East Central

The colonization of the western world brought on many changes for the
indigenous people of Africa in every way of life. The Christian missionaries
accomplished much more than just introducing their religion. They also
exposed and converted Africans to western values and social beliefs. Health
care practices were one of the things greatly influenced by the colonization.
In my paper, I am focusing on the practices of the east central region of
Africa, including the regions of Nigeria and (???). This region has common
Bantu-speaking ancestors and commonalties among medicines and practices. The
impact of the western world is easily recognizable because of the radical
differences in thought between the Europeans and the Africans. At the time
of colonization, European health care centered around science and reason.
Most Africans, on the other hand, believed in more abstract, spiritual
explanations for disease and illness. Religious practitioners had a big part
in the healing process. The infiltration of western ideas sparked obvious
changes and many times produced a combination of traditional healing along
with western ideas. There were changes in health care practices even before
the time of colonization and I will also give a brief history of this change
to emphasize the fact that religion and practices are never stagnant.
Brief history of people in East Central region
African healing practices traditionally have strong ties with religion.
They place an emphasis on holistic healing and believe in a mind-body
connection. Divination is one technique that is often used to find the cause
of a particular illness. "Since all human problems such as infertility,
illness, and trouble in hunting, are ascribed to moral conflicts within the
human community, the diviner\'s task is to disclose acts of immorality which
have provoked the vengeance of the ancestors, and to reveal the destructive
hand of witches and sorcerers." (Ray, 104). A diviner searches a person\'s
past to find something that may be ascribed to the works of an outside
source. They want to find the source of the problem before simply treating
the symptoms. They also believe that once the source is found, a ceremony
can be performed that may lead to the reversal of its effect. There is a
strong belief that the cause of illness is in the mind, so when the treatment
is foscused there, improvement in physical ailments may be seen. "Because
illness and death are seen to be rooted in immoral acts, the diviner\'s role
is to help the community in its constant efforts of moral judgment." (Ray
106). The diviner in this case acts as both a religious authority, placing
jugement and finding wrongs, and as a healer, heading ceremonies to drive off
the sickness. The African people of this area combine religion and medicine
to heal the sick and help the dying.
At the time of colonization, the Euopeans were taking an entirely
different approach to medicine. They had placed all of their faith on
science and reason, leaving all spirituality to religion. They completely
separated the two matters, believing the mind and body to be on two different
realms. "In Europe and America, prior to the era of new imperialism,
medicine had become free of a priestcraft and scientific explanations had
completely triumphed over social and supernatural ones." (Waite, 99). They
were coming out of a period ridden with fears of witches and supernatural
threats. New explanations and theories were being formed from mathematics
and advances in science were being made daily. It was the era of reason and
anything other than reason was considered primitive and unworthy of their
highest respect. Belief in the supernatural was in Europe\'s past, so
naturally they believed they had advanced from that stage. When they arrived
in Africa, they were eager to introduce them to what they believed to be
better, more advanced forms of medicine.
When the Europeans came to Africa, they didn\'t understand many African
practices. This is true especially in the case of medicine. They went so
far as to ban some of the healing methods because they misunderstood them to
be dangerous. "British passed ordinances throughout their Central African
territories making it a crime merely to accuse anyone of sorcery. As a
result, public control of sorcery came