Effects of Religion and Traditional African Cultures on Gullibility Towards People Who are Deaf’s Marriage Rights: A Case of Harare, Zimbabwe

Phillipa Mutswanga


In traditional African societies, choice of spouses, particularly of deaf people is marred with contention and controversies. Using narratives, in-depth interviews and document analysis, the study qualitatively explored effects of traditional African cultures on marriage rights of deaf people. Point of saturation determined the sample size. In most African cultures marriage is an incubator for raising children. According to African beliefs children strengthen marriage bonds. Thus, when a woman fails to bear own biological children the communal set up usually still expects her to express mother’s role to related children from family members. Such African women are in most cases comforted by the adage; it takes a village to raise a child. Article 23 in the Convention Rights of Persons with Disability underlies that, with respect for home and the families, PWDs have the right to marry and have children. Deafness is a total or partial loss in hearing only and that should not exclude such people from marriage rights. Communal marriage perspectives in African cultures go deeper than the consensus of two partners by making decisions on who to marry or not marry, though a diminishing practice it seems still on-going in some African cultures today. In most communities any type of disability including deafness are regarded as punishment and shameful. Emerging themes from the generated data revealed that some African families/communities discouraged d/Deaf family members to marry or have children least the condition spread in their families. Genetic deafness is acknowledged. On the other hand some churches lured deaf people into their churches by promising them one-day to receive their hearing if they maintained their faith with the particular church and traditional healers also promise them healing if they followed the magical rules. Thus, most deaf people’s expectations are torn between having their hearing restored through church lines or traditional cure practices where in most instances they fell prey to gullibility. People who are deaf felt that they were potential marriage partners despite the fact that some individuals or groups of people  in traditional societies and religious circles felt they did not deserve the marriage rights. Advocacy on gullibility teachings and affording people who deaf marriage rights as their hearing counterpart was recommended.

Keywords: (traditional African cultures, marriage rights, deaf people, religion gullibility, Zimbabwe)

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