Dancing Skeletons: Life and Death in West Africa

1701 Words7 Pages
Although the !Kung San of southern Africa differ greatly from the people in the west African nation of Mali, both areas share similar problems. Both suffer from diseases, illnesses, malnutrition, and having to adapt to the ever changing and advancing cultures around them. What I found to be the most significant problem that is shared between both areas is that the people suffered from a lack of education. In the book Dancing Skeletons: Life and Death in West Africa by Katherine A. Dettwyler, there is a lack of education in proper nutritional practices, taking care of children and newborns, and basic medical knowledge and practices. The Dobe Ju/’hoansi have recently started putting in schools to help children receive an education to help…show more content…
Also in the very first chapter of her book, Dettwyler describes one of the children she treated, kid #104, whose mother left him in the house all day with a bowl of rice and sauce. He was not able to talk or move because he suffered from extreme malnutrition. After the mother had weaned him, she left him alone in the house all day, hoping that he would decide for himself when he was ready to eat. The mother had no basic knowledge of how to take care of her child, leaving him all alone to take care of himself (Dettwyler 1994: 2). When it came to differing views between western beliefs and the native point of view, one of the bigger problems was the conflict about contraception and stopping the spread of HIV and AIDS. Southern Africa, were the Dobe Ju’/hoansi subside, has one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in the world. “[T] he world U/N. figures for June 2000 show a seropositive rate among adults of 19.54 percent in Namibia, 19.94 percent in South Africa, and a staggering 35.8 percent in Botswana (Lee 2003: 190).” Because of the epidemic the life expectancy in the area has also drastically dropped. Western medical professionals have made clear to most communities that condoms are the most effective protection from HIV/AIDs. Because of this many western clinics and organizations in Africa distribute condoms to the local people. Regardless of the
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