South Africa is today a country in transition, freed from apartheid with its far-reaching implications, engaged in rebuilding itself and seeking to create harmony between the old world and its customs, rituals, traditional values, and the new emerging Western, modern, and progressive world. This reality contains a staggering paradox between a new and free society and an impoverished reality marred by illness and other social problems. This article focuses on the perception of illness, and healthcare behavior as affected by the socio-cultural background in the context of social change which the country is undergoing. Terms like witchcraft, ancestors role, and traditional healers that play an important role in African traditional culture in relation to health perception and behavior will be introduced, and issues related to medical care for the ill in the struggling society, especially the worrisome extent of the HIV/AIDS pandemic will be discussed.
- health and illness perception
- health behavior
- traditional African culture