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1 September 2022 | Newsletter Issue 8

Mental health in 21st century Africa

Mental Health

– Solutions are in the mind

We are living in the 21st century age of enlightenment where ignorance is not an option, an age where
knowledge is created or packaged for consumption by a global community. 76 years after the International
Health Conference gave birth to a Mental Health Association established in London, up to this day mental
health issues are still largely misunderstood in Africa. Not so long ago the phrase ‘mental health’ was
relatively unknown on the continent, however it has recently begun to emerge as a universal definition
associated with mental soundness.

But how did Africans identify with mental health issues prior to European-centred angles of analysis?
Clearly this does not mean we never had such issues in African communities, we probably had our own
definitions to them.

The historical perspective of mental health as defined by Western Europe cannot be traced from the
African point of view. Why? Because we largely associate mental health with mental illness and because
tracing mental health issues in Africa is linked to African spirituality and largely connected or
associated with spiritual matters that affect people.

These range from possession of ancestral spirits that need appeasing, to avenging spirits of people
killed for ritual purposes, or wronged people who might have passed away without being given dues for
their labour.

Africa never had a medical definition of mental health that associated communities with depression,
stress or bipolar as these are more recent.

Grassroots dissemination of information that teaches boys and men to reject the social and cultural
expression ‘boys don’t cry’ is important as this will assist them to adopt help-seeking behaviour that
allows them to speak out and acknowledge underlying loneliness, depression, anxiety and stress that
accumulates over time. This will also be a vital step towards revising the global approach to
understanding mental health applicable from the African context.

The high risk of teen suicide can be reduced by teaching children in schools how daily behaviour and
decisions can affect or support in maintaining a stable mental health status, and that there are
possible deliberate actions and ways of thinking that can help develop strong mental health and
wellness.

In Conversation with Nigel Munyati

Nigel Munyati is a man with many talents and he is fully utilizing them from sports to
the arts industry. He bemoans the fact that our sports industry especially soccer
never evolved because of our beliefs and stereotypes as a nation. The big question
is how do we change our mindset of looking down on the sports and arts industry in
Zimbabwe. We have wasted a lot of time only to realize now that the sports industry
especially soccer has become a multi-billion dollar industry. Nigel Munyati is the Co-
Founder of Aces Academy a soccer academy that has been running for the past 20
years playing a key role in grooming young people who are passionate and talented
in soccer. This academy has produced stars such as Knowledge Musona, Khama
Billiat, the Amidu brothers. The academy is also play a key role in sending some of
their players abroad to greener pastures for more opportunities. He emphasizes the
fact that Government should appreciate sports as a nation builder.

Nigel through his social entrepreneurship journey is also the co-founder of the
Zimbabwe Film Festival. He believes in Zimbabwean filmmakers telling their stories
through art and creativity. Even though our film industry is not where it’s supposed to
be, platforms like the Zimbabwe Film Festival are opening up more opportunities for
Zimbabwean Filmmakers.

Watch the episode here.

Coming Next: In Conversation with Tashinga Bvekerwa

Don’t miss out on the next conversation with Tashinga Bvekerwa.

Coming Next: Deborah Eileen Lindsay Masterclass

Don’t miss out on the next Masterclass with Deborah Eileen Lindsay.

Podcasts

in conversation with trevorZimbabwean entrepreneur and newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube sits
down with various high-profile guests in a series of candid,
conversations that seeks to go beyond the headlines
and beyond the sensational.

Most recent episodes:

Listen to all the podcast sessions
here.

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Recommended Reading: This
Mournable Body

by Tsitsi Dangarembga


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Stand No. 17382, Cnr Bessemer/Strand Road, Graniteside, Harare,
Zimbabwe

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