Skip to main content
Kent Academic Repository

The medical culture of the Ovambo of Southern Angola and Northern Namibia

Davies, Gwyneth (1993) The medical culture of the Ovambo of Southern Angola and Northern Namibia. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86233) (KAR id:86233)


This thesis focusses on the medical culture of the Ovambo peoples of southern Angola and northern Namibia, a group who have been little-researched anthropologically. Because health and affliction are such poignant human concerns, the study of a society's medical culture can tell us much about their social and cultural organisation in general. It is for this reason that Ovambo medical culture has been examined in relation to the wider socio-cultural background, rather than in isolation; especially since Ovambo evidence has shown that concern about health and affliction is not confined to the physical and spiritual wellbeing of individuals, but extends to include harmonious social relations, environmental and economic prosperity, and politicaly stability.

A holistic analytical approach has been adopted, whereby all aspects of the medical culture are considered (insofar as the data allow), as opposed to only certain aspects. Ovambo beliefs and practises relating to healt hand health maintenance are therefore discussed, as well as external (i.e. European) medical influences. Particular attention has been paid to Ovambo use of plants as medicines, as well as to their prophylactic and propitiatory measures, since these are areas of athnomedical research that are identified as being under-researched. Focussing upon these areas has also highlighted the significance of material culture in the Ovambo medical domain, and the value of museum collections of ethnography in this regard.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86233
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 09 February 2021 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: Angola; Namibia; culture; medicine
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GR Folklore
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:36 UTC
Last Modified: 17 Nov 2021 14:53 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.