Being a patient in the religious and medical plurality of the Mberengwa district, Zimbabwe

by Olov Dahlin (Author)
Thesis 298 Pages


Zvinorwadza, a very common formulation heard among patients in the Mberengwa district, Zimbabwe, means «it is painful» or «it hurts». This book deals with patients in a rural area of southern Africa and poses two basic questions: What does it mean to be ill in this part of the world and what do patients’ life-worlds look like? Patients’ illness experiences are described with the word pain, anxiety and sometimes despair; their social situations are often marked by vulnerability, exposedness and insecurity which apply to both genders, but particulary to women; their help-seeking behaviour is characterised by pragmatism, complementarity and plurality; their conceptions about illnesses and aetiologies involve qualities of uncertainty, flexibility and multidimensionality; and, finally, patients’ treatment experiences can be depicted in three words: some experienced ease, others complete healing, while a significant group of the multi-episodical patients experienced non-deliverance. It is concluded that the phenomena illness and healing need to be regarded holistically and that it is of crucial importance to acknowledge patients’ own ideas concerning these issues.


ISBN (Softcover)
medical threatment medicin africa
Frankfurt/M., Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2002. 298 pp., num. fig.

Biographical notes

Olov Dahlin (Author)

The Author: Olov Dahlin was born in Ndolage, one of the centres of evangelical Lutheran mission in north-western Tanzania, in 1962 and lived there until 1968. Since then he lived in Sweden. He has studied social anthropology and the history of religions at the University of Stockholm, and in 2001 he completed his studies for the Ph.D. degree in the history of religions at the University of Uppsala. He has taught at the Universities of Uppsala and Stockholm. He has for several years worked at the National Museum of Ethnography in Stockholm, and is currently teaching at the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Gävle.


Title: «Zvinorwadza»