Call edition 2012

A new edition of the Prize of the Belgian Development Cooperation has been launched. This call is open until March 31st, 2011. You can read in the regulations whether you comply with the criteria for participation.

I would like to submit my application

White Sickness in a Black Man/A Reflexive Study of Ukuthwasa

Kelly LUCK student laureate

°1978 South Africa
Bachelor’s degree in anthropology, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa, 2000

White Sickness in a Black Man/A Reflexive Study of Ukuthwasa

When I read the work of Kelly Luck “White Sickness in a Black man” had been chosen for an award by the jury of the Development Co-operation Prize, I was really pleased. Why? Awarding a promising bachelor, and in doing so, helping her to qualify further, is a pleasure in itself. But there is more to it.
Development projects are still quite often set up by authorities outside the communities concerned. They are also often implemented by cultural and economic intermediaries, who are relatively unaware of what is at stake locally and of the meaning given by the various local groups to what is offered to, or even imposed on them. On the one hand, in almost every case, development projects will modify the balance of a community by increasing the integration of particular fractions of the population into the market economy. On the other hand, among a lot of populations in Africa, the individual - and difficult - accumulation of wealth, is still evaluated according to an ideal model of social harmony and health, following the relations similar to the ancestral traditions (possibly set up for this purpose). This particular type of contacts leads to new inequalities, new needs arise and values are measured at a different scale.
Healers deal with these aspects of social and cultural change, and try to restore the wholeness of the person by fostering a new social harmony within the community. Healers, however, do not keep away from these paths of change, and experience rivalries and jealousies fostered by new wealth. They are themselves part of the community they intend to heal. Their art reflects the changes which the increasing importance of money and more individual ideologies bring into gender and intergenerational relationships, as well as into the essential relationships with the ancestors. It is, for example, in this kind of context, that modern education or employment in the formal economic sector competes with loyalties towards the local community and the family group. Kelly Luck introduces us to a new African subjectivity, and to the complexity of experiences that social and economic change can produce. She does this within the particular context of the recent political changes in South Africa. One may hope that it will foster a better mutual understanding between groups of populations that were, until not so long ago, kept separated. Her excellent knowledge of the relevant literature serves her sensitivity in her fieldwork. The result is a work that we wish her sincerely to pursue further.

report by Dr. Danielle de Lame, Ethnosociology & Ethnohistory, Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren, Belgium