Cultural Divide

In Ethiopia, children are killed if they are considered to be cursed for fear that the cursed child will bring bad luck to the village. These cursed children are known as “mingi“. How can a child be considered cursed? A few reasons include, but are not limited to:

  • A child is born to a single mother
  • The parents did not get permission from the village elders
  • A child’s upper teeth comes out before the lower one

In the west, we deem this action as infanticide. I am personally against the taking of a life. I hold this belief because of my moral fiber and because I was brought up in a society and culture that dictates that it is wrong.

However, morality is subjective. Culture varies from nation to nation. Are the actions of Ethiopian elders wrong?

What are your thoughts?

9 thoughts on “Cultural Divide

  1. From my social cultural anthropology studies at the University of Toronto, it is very difficult for us to understand why people do what they do when they are completely different practices from our own. The challenge of course lies in while respecting a culture’s practice, also looking at human rights as well. Hence, it is horrific to us to witness such practices, while at the same time we must understand the reasons why they do so, without losing our disposition of a life is a life. It is definitely one of the ‘hot’ topics in anthropology, and a challenge for ethnocentrics and eurocentrics alike. 😀


    • This is like the Universe talking to me. You attend UoT … I was going to apply to their Computer Science programme (because they are the #1 university in that field), but I changed my mind -translation-(I was afraid of their math courses) and so I applied to York instead. I plan on transferring to UoT though after a year or so 🙂

      With all morality topics, it is always difficult to have a win win situation. I fully agree with your point that we should respect and understand a persons culture before passing judgment, but we have to consider human rights as well.

      A solution to the mingi problem is that the children be taken out of the village, instead of killing them. While this seems like a feasible solution, some elders are of the view that once a mingi continues to take breath, their village will remain cursed.

      • Thank you for this comment! WP lost 300+ comments and I’m only slowly catching up.

        Lemme know how the U of T transfer went! U of T is nuts, but the anti-calendar can be of great help in navigating which profs are best (although TAs are a whole other story). 😀


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