Extract from “A Textbook of Hygiene for Teachers in Africa”.
My father was a doctor of tropical disease. He taught at Fort Hare, a blacks-only medical University in South Africa. We lived all over Africa – and many other places too. This is an extract from his book “A Textbook of Hygiene for Teachers in Africa”, first published in 1956, then again in 1966 and finally in 1976. Clearly, in that 20-year span, and despite the efforts of so many people like my father, not a lot had changed:-
Few teachers will dispute the fact that there is an urgent need to do all we can to try to improve the health of the underprivileged sections of our African populations. The signs of a sick society are obvious. Death is a commonplace event. We all know of many young men and women who have died while in the prime of their lives. Those that survive are senile and feeble when they should be still enjoying the fruits of middle age. Few Africans of 70 could perform the work that Winston Churchill did at 80. A quarter of all African babies die before they even reach the age of one year. At school, absences due to sickness are so common that often up to half of the children are away. The teacher has only to look around those pupils who are present in his class in order to see where the hand of sickness has touched. Many of them have sores on face and scalp, running eyes and noses, frail bodies and tired faces.
But lest I should be painting too black a picture, let us at once look at the encouraging side of things. People of African origin are, when conditions are favourable, strong and vigorous. African men can perform more strenuous work under harder conditions than can any white man. African athletes have shown that they are second to none in the world. Africans can survive unhygienic conditions that would kill other races. Extremes of cold or heat leave them unaffected. Although so many African babies die it is highly probable that if European babies were exposed to the same hazards they would die in far greater numbers. When an African, in good health, gets a wound it seems to heal quickly. Africans do not get so much cancer, stomach trouble or psychological trouble as the Europeans. And, as if to prove their virility, and the ability to withstand the shocks brought about by the great cultural changes of our time, the African peoples are steadily increasing in numbers. Other races in similar conditions, Americans Indians and Australian aboriginals, have almost faded away
Catherine Broughton is a novelist, a poet and an artist. She is widely travelled and writes regularly for magazines and blog sites. Her sketches are on her web site http://turquoisemoon.co.uk . Her books are available from Amazon and on Kindle, or can be ordered from several leading book stores.
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Catherine Broughton is a novelist, a poet and an artist. Her books are available as e-books on this site:-
https://payhip.com/b/tEva “A Call from France”
https://payhip.com/b/OTiQ “French Sand”
https://payhip.com/b/BLkF ”The Man with Green Fingers”
https://payhip.com/b/1Ghq “Saying Nothing”
They are also available on Amazon & Kindle, or can be ordered as paperbacks from most leading book stores and libraries.