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CULTURE, IDENTITY AND THE LAW Sodi T Department of Psychology, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South Africa Email: [email protected] Paper presented at the Traditions 1 Conference Soweto Hotel, South Africa 18 – 19 November 2009. University of venda. OUTLINE OF THE PRESENTATION - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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  • CULTURE, IDENTITY AND THE LAW

    Sodi TDepartment of Psychology, University of Venda, Thohoyandou, South AfricaEmail: [email protected]

    Paper presented at the Traditions 1 Conference Soweto Hotel, South Africa18 19 November 2009

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  • OUTLINE OF THE PRESENTATION

    THE CASE STUDIESTHE LEGAL QUESTIONSTHE DEBATE UNIVERSALISM VS RELATIVISMCULTURE AND IDENTITY: THE CONCEPT OF HARMONYCULTURE, HEALTH AND ILLNESSAFFIRMATION OF AN IDENTITY: A PSYCHOLOGICAL PROJECTCONCLUSION

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  • 1. CASE STUDIES

    Tony Yengeni and the ritual slaughter

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    When the honourable member of parliament, Mr Tony Yengeni was released from prison early in 2007, heslaughtered a bull at his parents home in Gugulethu(CapeTown).

    Whilst he celebrated and interpreted this act of ritual bull slaughter as a traditional cleansing ceremony, the animalrights activists, through the Society for the Prevention ofCruelty to Animals (SPCSA) considered Mr Yengenis behaviour as a criminal act that needed to be investigatedunder the Animal Protection Act

  • 1. CASE STUDIES

    16 Year Limpopo girl has cancer

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    When a 16 year old girl from Limpopo Province was diagnosed with cancer, the mother wanted to take her to a traditional healer. On the other hand, the management of Mankweng hospital (where she was receiving treatment) gotan urgent court interdict to prevent the mother from removing her daughter from the hospital. This was done to have the child treated in hospital against her mothers wish.

  • 2. THE LEGAL QUESTIONS

    On the issue of ritual bull slaughter

    In South Africa, Act Number 71 of 1962 as amended stipulates: Any person who --- kills any animal in contravention of a prohibition in terms of a notice published in the Gazette --- shall be shall, --- subject to the provisions of this Act and any other law, be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding R4 000 or in default of payment to imprisonment for a period not exceeding twelve months or to such imprisonment without the option of a fine .,

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  • 2. THE LEGAL QUESTIONS

    On the issue of the 16 year old girl

    An interesting critique of animal rights movement: Animal rights advocates believe that animals have basic rights many say, the same as people to be free from confinement, pain, suffering, use in experiments, and death for reason of consumption by other animals (including humans). Thus, animal rights advocates oppose the use of animals for food, for clothing, for entertainment, for medical research, for product testing, --- and as pets. Currently, animal rights doctrine is essentially philosophical, ---- vegetarian, pro-activist, moralistic, and urban-based (Albright 1986).

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  • 2. THE LEGAL QUESTIONS

    On the issue of ritual bull slaughter

    In South Africa, section 15 Subsection 1of the Bill of Rights stipulates:

    Everyone has the right to freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion

    Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act No. 108 of 1996

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  • 2. THE LEGAL QUESTIONS

    On the issue of the 16 year old Limpopo girl with cancer

    In South Africa, section 28 Subsection 1b of the Bill of Rights stipulates:

    Every child has the right to family care or parental care, or to appropriate alternative care when removed from the family environment

    Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act No. 108 of 1996

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  • 2. THE LEGAL QUESTIONS

    On the issue of the 16 year old Limpopo girl with cancer

    The same section 28 Subsection 2 of the Bill of Rights stipulates:

    A child's best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child.

    Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act No. 108 of 1996

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  • 3. THE DEBATE: UNIVERSALISM VS RELATIVISM

    UniversalismHuman phenomena or all psychological processes are the same across all cultures (Sam & Moreira, 2002; Berry, Segall, Poortinga & Dasen, 1992) Culture is viewed as peripheral; only masking basic underlying psychological universals

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    Culture relativismAll human behaviours are culturally patterned (Sam & Moreira, 2002; Swartz, 1998)It is impossible to speak of human behaviour without taking into account the cultural context in which it is manifest

  • 3. THE DEBATE: UNIVERSALISM VS RELATIVIS

    WHAT THEN ARE WE SAYING?

    UniversalismThe girl from Limpopo has cancer ( a medical condition). Culture in this case is considered to be irrelevant as it has absolutely no role in causal explanations, meaning, and treatment of this medical condition

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    Culture relativismMr Yengenis ritual slaughter of a bull:AThis is definitely not an SPCSA matter, because it is not about cruelty to animals. Instead, it is about mans search for meaning, purpose and the redefinition of the relationship with the cosmos,God and his ancestryMr Sandile Memela, spokesperson for Arts and Culture Minister (defending Mr Yengenis actions and the governments reluctance to condemn ritual bull slaughtering

  • 4. CULTURE AND IDENTITY: THE QUESTION OF HARMONY

    *Mr Yengeni probably interprets his time in jail as a manifestation of disharmony in his relationship with the spiritual world. Under these circumstances, the relationship between his family and the ancestors need to be restored

    The healthy person in African traditional thought is harmonised with self, others, nature, the spirit world, and the universe by connections, interactions Dana, 1993, p. 40

  • 5. CULTURE, HEALTH AND ILLNESS

    *In traditional Western thought, physical illness is explained primarily in terms of the germ theory. Physical illness in all its manifestation is biological in origin.

    The mother of the 16 year old Limpopo girl may not be subscribing to this particular theory or illness. Does she have a choice under these circumstances?

  • 6. AFFIRMATION OF AN IDENTITY: A PSYCHOLOGICAL PROJECT

    *"Modem man does not understand how much his 'rationalism' (which has destroyed his capacity to respond to numinous symbols and ideas) has put him at the mercy of the psychic 'underworld.' He has freed himself from 'superstition' (or so he believes), but in the process he has lost his spiritual values to a positively dangerous degree. His moral and spiritual tradition has disintegrated, and he is now paying the price for this breakup in world-wide disorientation and dissociation.

    Carl Jung (1964). Man and His Symbols, p 84

  • 7. CONCLUSION

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    The Euro-centric models to health, illness and behaviour need to be interrogated if psychology and other behavioural sciences are to remain relevant in Africa. Practices such as animal sacrifices are affirmation of an identity and are thus psychologically meaningful if understood from within the cultural context of the individuals concerned.

  • THANK YOURE A LEBOGA

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