Baridi Among the Bena Peoples in Tanzania

In the article Baridi: A Culture-Bound Syndrome Among the Bena Peoples in Tanzania researchers went to Ilembula village in Tanzania and interviewed the Bena people about baridi.  They found out that family had an important role in the life of the Ilembulian Benas.  Family unity and respecting your family, especially elders, was very important.  Baridi was defined by the informants that were interviewed as being caused by acting against culture which meant, “neglecting the values, norms, and customs maintaining unity among the family.” Baridi would cause someone to feel cold and restlessness and then move on to fatigue and loss of appetite.  Advanced baridi would cause deformations in joints, weakness in limbs, and mental disturbance.  The treatment started with the diagnosis and then moved on to fixing relationships with the family mainly through an apology and public confession.  The main prevention of baridi was to have self control, and to be considerate of others in the family.

The illness itself is caused by the individual’s actions.  They choices they make when dealing with their family is what determines whether they get baridi or not.  The rules they are supposed to follow are based their cultural beliefs, and if someone is affected with baridi they acted against the culture.  The most severe form of baridi is laana which results in social and economic losses including losing your job, failing an exam, losing property, lack of a marriage partner, and loneliness.

The professional and folk sectors were commonly combined in the treatment of the illness. The first step of the treatment was being diagnosed with baridi by a traditional healer.  The traditional healer would interview the person and tell them what actions led to them getting the illness.  They would then have the person give a public confession to the family, an apology, and the healer would determine whether the person had to give any gifts or money to the family members that were offended.  The healer might also include herbal remedies.  Commonly people with the illness would combine these treatments with hospital treatments as well.

Baridi: A Culture-Bound Syndrome Among the Bena Peoples in Tanzania

J Transcult Nurs 2005 16: 15 Anitta Juntunen

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