Changing concepts of wellness among the Swahili of Lamu Town, Kenya

Authored by: Rebecca Gearhart Mafazy , Munib Said Mafazy

Routledge Handbook of Indigenous Wellbeing

Print publication date:  May  2019
Online publication date:  April  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138909175
eBook ISBN: 9781351051262
Adobe ISBN:


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Among the Swahili peoples of coastal Kenya, physical health is inseparable from spiritual wellbeing, maintained through the regular practice of rituals of pre-Islamic and Islamic origin. The authors reflect on ethnographic and clinical experiences living among and caring for the Swahili of Lamu Town during a period of rapid rise in chronic diseases. By describing the medically dynamic and pluralistic context in which the Swahili prevent, diagnose and manage disease, and explaining how the Swahili fit new diseases into their cultural framework, the authors hope to support healthcare providers, researchers and policymakers in delivering culturally congruent healthcare.

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