13 Pages

The Ecology of the Nutrition of the Bapedi, Sekhukuniland

WithE. Waldmann

Sekhukuniland is a Bantu reserve in the North Eastern Transvaal, South Africa. Among the Bapedi, whose tribal structure, cultural beliefs, agriculture and mode of life is described, a monotonous diet of low nutritional value, as well as poverty and ignorance, result in overall sub-optimal growth and overt protein-calorie malnutrition most severe in the post-weaning period in young children. Child-rearing practices, especially prolonged unsupplemented breast feeding and abrupt weaning, often combined with geographical separation from the mother, are discussed. The role of détribalisation in general, and maternal efficiency in particular, are an added risk in the life of the Pedi child. The observations and data are based on experience gained from working in the wards and clinics of the Jane Furse Memorial Hospital, which serves a representative area of Sekhukuniland.