‘Stress is a white man’s disease’ claims debunked

South African president Jacob Zuma’s claim that stress is a “white man’s disease” has been criticised by clinical psychologists and a Zulu cultural expert.

South African president Jacob Zuma’s claim that stress is a “white man’s disease” has been criticised by clinical psychologists and a Zulu cultural expert.

At his 75th birthday celebration in Kliptown earlier this month, Zuma said stress was foreign to Zulus – and that there was no word for ‘stress’ in Zulu.

“Yes, there is a Zulu word for stress. It’s called ingcindezi and then a person can explain what kind of stress they are suffering from,” the TimesLive quoted retired University of KwaZulu-Natal lecturer and cultural expert Ndela Ntshangase as saying.

“So, the existence of the word means that there is stress. Even with us, when someone has stress, it means that they are under pressure.

“If someone is sick, they have stress that they are sick. Some people even take a decision to kill themselves because of stress.”

Board member of the SA Depression and Anxiety Group, Dr Nkini Phasha, added: “This sort of narrative contributes to fuelling myths around mental illnesses. This also fuels a stigma and it sets us back as a country.

“It further sets us back as we attempt to educate and empower our people when it comes to dealing with stress and accessing the professional help they require.”

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