THE AFRICAN ORPHANS’ LIFE: YESTERDAY AND TODAY

Offard Kanjanda

Abstract


The orphanhood phenomenon is much pronounced among the developing countries of the world. Looking at the life of the orphan from the African perspective, one would really wonder how and the life has taken such a radical change. The African philosophy was that when a child lost both parents the extended family members would bear the burden of caring for that orphan. The orphan enjoyed everything in the family including the food, clothing and life skills development in preparation for the future life. Such efforts by the families helped to maintain the social harmony and to keep the family intact for the enhancement of social, economic, cultural and spiritual sustainable development. The life of the time was fully characterised by love and respect for each other with the moral values being the order of each day. The orphan enjoyed the comfort of the home and the entire environment. As the time passed by, the whole situation changed as a result of a myriad of factors including the increase if deaths of parents, poverty, family disharmony and disintegration as well as laxity of the moral values and social stratification. Such changes saw the orphan treated as an outcast and a second class citizen in the family. Life became unbearable for the orphan who then would choose to make life in the street. Such situation gave rise to some orphanages to replace the home (family) system. When in the orphanagesthe orphans still face some challenges especially within some individual-based institutions because they usually fail to fit into their families. This research therefore was conducted to unravel what exactly the challenges are. Mutare urban in Manicaland Province-Zimbabwe was used as a case study. The qualitative paradigm was employed and case study design was adopted for this research. From a population of 4000 a sample size of 50 (30females and 20 males) was selected using the stratified, purposive, systematic and the random sampling techniques. The questionnaire, direct observation and interviews were used to generate the data. Ethical and legal implications were also considered. The researcher used some theories such as the systemic, grounded, functionalism and the constructivism. The data were descriptively presented. The research findings were that the orphans are ill-treated and abused by their extended family members to the extent that they choose to find safety in the streets from where some of them are picked and placed in some orphanages such the individual-based ones. While they are in these orphanages they experience some challenges which include lack of resources and life skills. The research recommended that there is great need for the restoration of family harmony for the social, economic, spiritual,psychological and moral transformation. This is because the society is anchored on the family system. It is therefore the duty of the government to initiate some programmes which are focused towards sensitizing and educating the communities on the value of the family systems within the context of the African culture.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.19044/esj.2014.v10n10p%25p


European Scientific Journal (ESJ)

 

ISSN: 1857 - 7881 (Print)
ISSN: 1857 - 7431 (Online)

 

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