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+  Africa Speaks Reasoning Forum
| |-+  Health and Livity (Moderators: Tyehimba, leslie)
| | |-+  Modern Science meets Tradition.
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Author Topic: Modern Science meets Tradition.  (Read 3246 times)
Posts: 8

« on: January 19, 2017, 11:36:46 PM »

Hello all,

I am new here, so I am not sure whether this is the right forum/page to post this. Your guidance is appreciated.
I am curious what your thoughts are about cultural relativism/condescension.

Four months ago, I broke my right femur in a motorbike taxi (boda-boda) accident. Surgery was done a day later, so I am now at that stage of the healing process where all I have to do is wait and wait save for a few exercises to awake the upper leg muscles from a 4 month slumber, as it were.

What this means is that I have to move about on crutches. This, inevitably, solicits sympathy and stares in equal measure. The latter mostly from children. This would all be fine if it was not for the constant 'advice' from people for me to go to a Traditional Bone Setter locally known as omuyunzi—which translates into 'he who joins/unites'. Normally their reason is that with the omuyunzi I'd get off the crutches sooner.

Traditional Bone Setters are documented world over as the go to guys when one breaks a bone, and they still are in 'traditional' societies mostly because of inadequate medical personnel. Traditional Bone Setters are to modern orthopaedics what astrology is to astronomy, in my opinion.

What I am perplexed about is what the bubble bursting does or feeling of dejection or rejection that you sense when you decline their suggestion often which I couple with a haranguing about the dangers of traditional bone setting, as told to me by my surgeon.

I believe indulging people who suggest the use of Traditional Bone Setters or those that suggest herbal remedies, is akin to condescending.

And this doesn't only happen with broken bones, but also with other ailments.

What do the people on this forum feel about that?
Posts: 1531

« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2017, 06:34:38 PM »

Welcome to the forum.

If in your evaluation of both procedures you believe the traditional method of bone-setting is not as good as what exists in modern medicine, then by all means, do not go the traditional way. But, I would still suggest that you examine what others are saying about traditional methods and not casually dismiss them. If you are not having the successes you would like with traditional medicine then you could give consideration to people who have a long history in dealing with such problems. Healing is helped by the attitude of the patient.
Posts: 1266


« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2017, 11:16:41 PM »

Hello and welcome Mukasa,

While it is important to recognise the advancements made in medicine, it would also be wise not to forget or dismiss its antecedents.   While your surgeon may be right about the risks associated with bone-setting, I am certain that there may be some aspects of the practice that are still valuable. Additionally, modern medicine is still an evolving field and I am aware of many who do not to place one hundred percent faith in it as a result. Not to mention the corruption that occurs in the pharmaceutical industry etcetera which may taint medical advice proffered by some doctors. Moreover, modern medical practitioners, even those with the best of intentions, make mistakes all the time. Therefore, one should try to do one’s research as much as possible (and if indeed possible) before taking advice from any doctor or traditional healer. Whatever one decides, respect should always be paid to the foundation.
Posts: 518

« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2017, 06:00:23 PM »

Hello Mukasa

When it comes to discussing matters of non-modern (“non-scientific”) ways of doing things, I am usually wary of motives people are coming with. Especially when it comes to traditional African methodologies. I will be referring to these in this response.

There are people who are ignorant of the weaknesses in ancient methods because they have not been exposed to different methods. Addressing them might need to start with exposure… But there are those who are simply dishonest, as they have access to more information of modern ways but dismiss it in the name of tradition or pseudo-Pan-Africanism. This is, of course, non-beneficial for the practices as they do not evolve.

Then there are those who totally dismiss the non-modern philosophies out of racism, directly or otherwise. They refuse to accept that anything of value could come out of ancient Africa and modern Africans. Or, they blindly accept what comes out of academia, which is inherently anti-African.

When it comes to health/medicine, what research have you personally done to compare the old and the modern? I understand that your surgeon could have lectured you about bone-settling, but I point back to the racist nature of academia. What many people either do not know or dismiss (especially the ‘educated’) is that modern medicine stands on the shoulders of the ancient.

Humans have been able to further explore the material world, and indeed, ways to approach health and disease have expanded. However, one method needn’t replace the other. In addition, with capitalism driving modern scientific research, the modern is not automatically better.
Posts: 8

« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2017, 08:42:07 PM »

Thank you all for your responses.

I am not anywhere being a medical personnel. I am just a person anxious to get healed. So yes I did 'research' a bit.


The report in that link tries to give a global perspective with a Ghana bias. It is interesting to see how the lack of trained medical personnel leads them to work together.

And I found one with a Ugandan perspective which brings it closer to home for me.


I interact with a junior orthopaedic Officer and she intimated that she doesn't see any chance of doing further training to supplant the badly skewed ratios of one surgeon for every 10 million Ugandans because of structural bottlenecks within her field.
I think that progressive folks should be working towards addressing those hindrances for young medics and not get bogged down in conspiracy theories about the pharmaceutical industry or a white conspiracy against black people.

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