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Journal article

From self-help to charity in disability service: the Jairos Jiri Association in Zimbabwe

Author:
DEVLIEGER Patrick
Journal article citation:
Disability and Society, 10(1), 1995, pp.39-48.
Publisher:
Taylor and Francis,

In today's Zimbabwe, an extended network of institutions which serve persons with disabilities are legacy of Jairos Jiri, one of the greatest African philanthropists. Stated as a personal initiative to help Africans with disabilities, it became part of a large self-help movement in colonial Rhodesia. This movement was characterized by the idea to establish independent African-controlled schools and black-run business ventures in an effort to uplift Africans. Jiri's activities started as early as 1945 but gained momentum in the early 1950s with the establishment of a leather shop followed by institutional expansion all over the country. The period 1950-60 is characterized by Jairos Jiri's effort to build African consciousness and the solicitation of financial support for Africans with disabilities. In this process, the financial contributions from non-Africans and from overseas, institutional expansion, and the idea in the 1960 that politician control would uplift Africans overshadowed Jiri's self-help philosophy. In the 1980s and 1990s, disability advocates portrayed the Association in terms of charity rather than self-help thus underestimating the liberating Jairos Jiri played prior to independence. This article challenges the assumption that the Jairos Jiri Association is merely an institutional effort, devoid of the liberating philosophy of the disability movement.

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