'Kwimenya': The Cultural Foundation for Self-Discovery

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review


The Nobel laureate Prof. Wangari Maathai suggested that African culture should be the foundation of self-rediscovery. While acknowledging the African culture is not perfect, she argued that it had deep and meaningful roots while adopting a colonizer's culture leads to self-loathing and disharmony. African culture is based on collectivity, harmony, interdependency, and spirituality. These features are not unique to the African culture but they are in contrast to the western culture which has a heavy emphasis on individual autonomy. Kwimenya then emphasises understanding oneself. This African self, however, goes beyond the individual self and includes the collective self and the environment.This paper evaluates how this approach could inform strength-based practice in social work with the African people and people of African descent. The approach can also be extended to other people whose indigenous cultures have been marginalized through colonialism, slavery or occupation. Using culture as a basis of strength involves a critical appraisal of what aspects of culture are a source of strength and building on them while rejecting aspects that are incompatible with the present society.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial Work, Human Services
EditorsVenkat Pulla, Lesley Chenworth, Abraham Francis, Stefan Bakaj
Place of PublicationNew Delhi
PublisherAllied Publishers Private Limited
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9788184248104
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2012
EventInternational Conference on Strengths Based Practices - Dhulikel Lodge Resort, Kathmandu, Nepal
Duration: 22 Nov 201224 Nov 2012
http://www.strengthsbasedpractice.com.au/nepal_conference.htm (conference info)


ConferenceInternational Conference on Strengths Based Practices
Internet address


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