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Title:Reflections on Some Concepts of Religion and Medicine in Liberian Society
Author:Conteh, Al-Hassan
Periodical:Liberian Studies Journal
Geographic term:Liberia
African religions
traditional medicine
preventive medicine
Religion and Witchcraft
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Abstract:This essay is concerned with the difficulty, in Liberian society, of drawing a fine line between some implicit religious and medicinal concepts by revealing their interrelatedness. The author uses Robin Horton's constructs of 'open' and 'closed' predicaments, which refer to the availability and nonavailability of alternative theories and explanations concerning causes of events, as a conceptual framework. The three main religions in Liberia are Christianity, Islam and traditional African religion. Dual membership of religious groups is observed. Implicit in the concept of religion in Liberian society is the concept of the responsible person; bonding as exemplified by the concept of brother and sister; the concept of the God person; divine revelation; and the concepts of Mandingo and the Mandingo gown. Attitudes vis--vis medicine are characterized by the dichotomy of 'kwii' (medical prescriptions of Western origin) and 'country' medicine (medical prescriptions of African origin). There appear to be manifest and latent concepts of medicine in social relations. The personal exchange of information on the state of someone's health, and the germ theory of disease are discussed as examples of the manifest and latent concepts respectively. The author concludes that the population at large seem aware of alternative ways of maximizing their well-being. Options may include consulting 'kwii' or native doctors or a blend of the two. Bibliogr., notes.