Gender and Death: Cultural and Social Attitudes Influencing Burying of Still-Born Babies Among the Kaonde of Zambia

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Ngambela, Willie
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This study on Gender and Death: Cultural and Social attitudes influencing burying of still-born babies among the Kaonde of Zambia, aims to explain why there is gender division in the burying of still-born babies among the Kaonde, and how this gender division is expressed. It also aims to assess the perception of what the Kaonde believe is the cause of still-birth. Further, it seeks to analyse the traditional rituals, beliefs and symbols surrounding the burying of still-born babies among the Kaonde.The study used mainly qualitative and a bit of quantitative methods to collect data by using interviews. The data was analysed manually.The study revealed that among the Kaonde, there is a gender division when burying still-born babies. Only elderly women known as ba biimbela bury still-born babies. Other findings also revealed that parents of still-born babies are not allowed to mourn. The study has also revealed that there are contradictory beliefs about the cause of still-birth. The majority of the respondents believe that still-birth is caused by witchcraft and adultery. On the contrary others believe that witchcraft has nothing to do with still-birth and attribute still-birth to physical work, overweight, stress and diseases as well as ignorance and early pregnancies among young girls. The study also revealed that kafunga is a special rite of passage performed by the Kaonde when burying still-born babies. In the kafunga rite, traditional rituals relating to fertility, sexuality and death are performed. Once these rituals are performed, the mother of the still-born baby is reintegrated into society. The study has also revealed that the way the Kaonde bury still-born babies is not unique, it is also is similarly practiced among other ethnic groups. The researcher of this study recommends that a similar research be carried out by a female researcher so that other detailed information that was not availed to him because he is male could possibly be availed to the female researcher. This information is likely to contribute more knowledge to gender studies.
Gender and Death , Still-Born Babies