International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Traditional Midwifery in the Balikumbat Fondom of the Bamenda Grassfields from Pre-Colonial To Post-Colonial Era
Nyongkah Rachel Tati, Ph.D.

Prior to modernity, the Balikumbat people had developed means through which they handled birth related issues based on their conviction, perception and belief system which was characterized by superstition. Traditional midwifery was an ancient cultural practice that existed in Africa and other parts of the world. There existed men and women who had a greater knowledge in childbirth andthe role played by mid-wives. Most mid-wives had spiritual gifts to commune with the spirits and the ancestors. Women were more comfortable to associate with a female mid-wife than that of the opposite sex. Among the Balikumbat people, birth related issues were accompanied by rituals, prayers, sacrifices, incantations and invocation which was an emblem of their traditional religion. The gods and the ancestors were considered the source of life and the prosperity of a family depended on their relationship with the spiritual realm. Despite the implantation of the Balikumbat Health Center in 1960, equipped with modern equipment, medicine and a trained staff, traditional mid-wives have not lost their place and function in this society. However, they have experienced a decline in the number of clients. With the presence of both traditional and modern child care facilities, most women have resulted to a combineduse of the two dispensations since they cannot clearly distinguish which is more potent. This paper presents the issues related to pregnancy and child birth. The function of the traditional mid-wife is highlighted. The data for this study was largely derived from oral sources. This study concludes that, the traditional mid-wives acted and still act as gynecologists and pediatricians and the indigenes had absolute trust and confidentin them.

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