Been a mother of an adopted little girl I open myself to all kinds of strangeness from absolute strangers. I often get blessed for the opportunity I’ve given to Emma. Sometimes I am lambasted for trying to colonize her. I am criticized for not doing anything with her hair and for not piercing her ears. I am asked how old he is, when clearly she is a she. But a recent conversation about Emma’s health made me realize I’ve been taking her to the wrong doctors. Instead of a doctor based at Life Clinic, Emma should probably be going to a sangoma from deep dark Africa.
Last week Friday Emma wasn’t well and her daddy took her off to the doctor. She had some sinus and the beginnings of a cold, but nothing too serious. His concern was that Emma might be asthmatic. Later that day, as I was leaving the office my work colleagues, both black and beautiful, told me to give Emma a big kiss from them. I duly said I would and then went on to tell them that Emma might be asthmatic.
“No way!” was their response “Black children don’t have asthma. They just can’t breathe properly.” This revelation led to a whole lot more…
Epilepsy is DEFINITELY not a black thing. It’s simply fits or ‘amafufunyana’. Tasj’s little brother would have ‘fits’ and that’s all they were. When she later got to varsity and a fellow learner proceeded to flap around the floor like a fish out of water, she immediately jumped into action. When asked how she knew what to do during an epileptic fit she answered “I don’t! I only know what to do when someone’s fitting.”
Something else that only affects white people is acne. We get medicine for it. We have creams and lotions and we spend hundreds of rands at the dermatologist taking care of it. Once again I was alarmed to hear black people don’t get acne, it’s a ‘stage’ and if a panado doesn’t fix it then they’ll outgrow it.
And don’t even discuss depression. According to my nubian work mates there is NO SUCH THING! It’s bakuloyile- simple witchcraft and someone has put a spell on you. Best get to a sangoma and all will be well. Or at least take a panado.
The Big C or the Dreaded C also isn’t really a black people’s illness. It’s a white thing. Should you have aches or pains in strange places then chances are it’s period pains (not sure what you do if you’re a ndoda) and you need to take a panado.
What I did discover are definite black things is gout and arthritis. Yip, those are definitely black things!
From now on I will no longer take Emma to Dr Mohlabi at Fourways Life but rather we will visit a sangoma or inyanga and the good news is, according to a website, that there is talk of consultations and medicines being paid for by some of the medical aids sometime in the future.
[this post is not meant to offend anyone, nor is it meant to be derogatory towards anyone’s cultural beliefs and traditions. It is simply my personal experience as a white mother raising a black baby]