® 2021 Joy Symposium

Finding Joy in Healthcare in Africa

Welcome to the “Finding Joy in Healthcare in Africa” symposium, an interdisciplinary engagement on healthcare in Africa. Finding Joy brings together leaders in inter, trans- and multidisciplinary research and critical health humanities explorations across Africa. This inaugural event is devoted to understanding how joy is considered in the conceptualisation and implementation in healthcare seeking and provision, rituals, practices, health seeking behaviour, and interventions.

As in other parts of the world, across the African continent, a variety of pathways to health and healing are available for those who fall ill. While the landscape of health and wellbeing is vast and caters to myriad experiences, dominant perceptions of healthcare in Africa portray it either in terms of failure, disrepair, chaos and disappointment, or as agentic creative refashioning under such circumstances. Little attention is paid within scholarly research to the joy that accompanies achieving health and wellbeing across a spectrum that runs from individual to communal experiences and social to systemic. Responses to uncertainty, inequalities, and precarity help shed light on understandings and practices that accompany attempts to avoid ill health and ensure wellbeing; but so too, can responses and actions derived from joy.

1st & 2nd September 2021


The focus of the symposium

The symposium will focus on temporal perspectives—past, present and future—that engage how healthcare systems in Africa approach issues of joy, trust, confidence, or comfort as they pertain to the decision-making processes at individual, familial, community, national and global levels. How do concepts of joy across Africa (including her voluntary and forcibly dislocated diaspora) manifest as expressions of self-preservation, love, resistance, and as political engagements, to give meaning to the experiences and pathways to care across diverse cultural landscapes?

This symposium offers mixed formats of workshops, discussion forums and keynotes to deepen conceptual knowledge of how to implement joy within the creative arts, critical health/medical and health humanities, health sciences, social sciences, indigenous philosophy and cultural studies. The event will introduce key themes to be further explored in our forthcoming ‘Finding Joy’ research, which focuses on developing practical tools that aim to make the healthcare experience more positive across various health sectors.

SEAMHH is preparing a special issue on the theme, which we plan to submit to British Medical Journal – Medical Humanities.

We anticipate that the completed special edition will launch in June 2024.

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Seye Abimbola           1st September 2021

10:00am - 10:45am (GMT+2)

"Finding Joy In Global Health Research: Experiences And Reflections"

Dr. Abimbola is a health systems researcher and a global health scholar from Nigeria. He studies community engagement in governance, decentralised governance, and the role of governance in the adoption and scale up of health system innovations. He is the current (2020-22) Prince Claus Chair in Development and Equity at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, a senior lecturer in global health at the University of Sydney in Australia, and the editor in chief of BMJ Global Health.

Angelo Fick           2nd September 2021

09:45am - 10:30am (GMT+2)

‘Talking the line: queueing for health the social expression of the alternative social compact in everyday life’

Angelo Fick is the Director of Research at the Auwal Socioeconomic Research Institute (ASRI) in Johannesburg, South Africa. Before joining ASRI, he spent nearly half a decade as a resident current affairs and news analyst in the broadcast sector in South Africa, and he continues to give political commentary across various broadcast platforms across the African continent and for TeleSUR, CGTN and the BBC.

For two decades he taught across a variety of disciplines in the Humanities and Applied Sciences in universities in South Africa and Europe, including the Department of English at the University of Cape Town, the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University, the Centre for Science Access at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg in South Africa. He held a UNESCO Fellowship at the Centre for Women’s Studies at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. His research is informed by critical race theory, feminism, colonial discourse theory, and post-structuralism.

He has written widely on post-millennial post-apartheid South Africa’s political economy, and remains interested in broader issues of justice, freedom, and equality. Most recently he taught courses on colonial discourse theory and postcolonial culture in the Department of Visual Culture at the University of Pretoria.

He has supervised graduate work on the representation of women politicians in South African media, the figuration of subjectivity in contemporary critical theory, and most recently, an analysis of the relationship between national sovereignty and supra-national organisations in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. His work has appeared in the Mail & Guardian, The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, The Funambulist Magazine (Paris), Women Writing Africa (Feminist Press and CUNY), Cuba Counterpoints, The Johannesburg Review of Books and English in Africa.

Expressions of Joy

Matt Hedt


August Magolowondo Jnr


Grace Sinoya


Elrietha Olivier


Neil Overy


Art Workshop


Takondwa Senzani

Producer / Videographer


Finding Joy Symposium Programme (GMT+2)

View the programme for both days of the Joy Symposium in the table below.

Register for the appropriate session by selecting the respective Zoom Registration link.

Time (GMT+2)

Wednesday 1 September 2021

Morning Session

09:00 - 09:30

Takulandirani! Sawubona! Welcome! Music, Arrival Of Guests And Viewing Online Galleries

09:30 - 10:00

Introductions By Dr Carla Tsampiras (University Of Cape Town), Dr Chisomo Kalinga (University Of Edinburgh) and Prof Nolwazi Mkhwanazi

10:00 - 10:45

Keynote Address: Finding Joy In Global Health Research: Experiences And Reflections By Dr. Seye Abimbola (University Of Sydney, Editor-in-Chief BMJ Global Health)

10:45 - 11:00

Health break: Mindfulness & Meditation Led By Catriona Towriss Of Art of Health

11:00 - 12:00

Session #1: Building Trust and Confidence in Healthcare Chaired By Prof Lenore Manderson (University of Witwatersrand)

‘Communication And Emotional Competence Course For Nurse Managers : Strengthening Respectful Communication With Patients And Colleagues In Neonatal Units In Kenya’
By Peris Musitia (Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) Wellcome Trust Research)

The Impact Of Lifestyle Medicine, Positive Psychology, And Virtual Group Consultations For Elderly Married Couples During The Covid-19 Pandemic In Abuja, Nigeria : A Case Study At The Brookfield Centre For Lifestyle Medicine.
By Dr Ifeoma Monye (Brookfield Centre For Lifestyle Medicine, And Department Of Family Medicine National Hospital, Abuja, Nigeria) and,
Grace Kelly Muvunyi, Msc. (University Of Global Health Equity, Kigali, Rwanda, & Brookfield Centre For Lifestyle Medicine, Abuja, Nigeria).

12:00 - 13:00

Lunch Break

Afternoon Session 1

13:00 - 13:45

On Joy And Healing: Musical Performances And Conversation Led By Ameer Shaheed Of Art Of Health

13:45 - 14:10

Short Film Viewing: Chimwemwe Ndi Umoyo: The Faces Of Community Healthcare By Artmalawi In Collaboration With Chimwemwe Phiri (University Of Durham)

14:10 - 15:00

Session #2: The Joy Of Sex: Addressing The 'Pleasure Deficit' In Discourses Of Sexual And Reproductive Health In Africa Chaired by Professor Nolwazi

Moses Kaufulu (University Of Southern Mississippi)
Angelique Thomas (University Of Cape Town)
Dr Chisomo Kalinga (University Of Edinburgh)

15:00 - 15:15

Tea Break

Afternoon Session 2

15:15 - 15:45

Reflections On The Joy Of Traditional Healing By Dr Sinethemba Makanya, Scholar (University Of Witwatersrand) And Traditional Healer

15:45 - 16:00

Challenges To Conduct Qualitative/MHH Research During Covid-19 Pandemic By Dr Neusa Torres (Social Science Researcher At Manhiça Health Research Center- CISM, Mozambique)

16:00 - 16:20

On Publishing With BMJ Medical Humanities’ with Dr Brandy Schillace, Editor-In-Chief, BMJ Medical Humanities

16:20 - 17:00

Writing Workshop by Prof Nolwazi Mkhwanazi & Dr Carla Tsampiras

Time (GMT+2)

Thursday 2 September 2021

Morning Session 1

09:00 - 09:45

Live art workshop: using art and mindfulness to cultivate joy and mental wellbeing led by Catriona Towriss of Art of Health

09:45 - 10:30

Keynote Address: ‘Talking the line: queueing for health the social expression of the alternative social compact in everyday life’ by Angelo Fick (University of Cape Town)

10:30 - 11:00

On discourse, funding and dynamic research by Dr Peter Kilroy, Humanities and Social Science Research at Wellcome Trust (United Kingdom)

11:00 - 11:15

Tea Break

Morning Session 2

11:15 - 12:00

On Joy and Healing: musical performances and conversation led by Ameer Shaheed of Art of Health

12:00 - 13:00

Lunch Break

Afternoon Session

13:00 - 13:20

Session #3: Cultural Constructions of Care chaired by Dr Chisomo Kalinga

Cultural Logic of Prenatal and postnatal Care and Maternal Health in Ahero; Western Kenya by Dr Benson Mulemi (Independent Researcher, Kenya)

13:20 - 14:00

Roundtable Discussion: Creating Medical Humanities Spaces in Africa: Connectivity and Positivity chaired by Dr Carla Tsampiras

Dr Victoria Osei-Bonsu (University of Ghana)
Dr Thandeka Dlamini (Eswatini)
Professor Emmanuel Obomowale (University of Ibadan)

14:00 - 14:45

Workshop: Umunthu - using indigenous philosophy and participatory arts to promote joyful access to health for LGBTI people in Malawi led by Art and Global Health Centre Africa (Malawi)

14:45 - 15:15

Panel on Psychosocial Disability: The World we Want in Our Madness moderated by Action Amos (Pan African Network for Persons with Psychosocial Disabilities)

Dr Tafadzwa Ruhogo (Zimbabawe)
Sylvester Kantontoka (Zambia)
Robinah Alambuya (Uganda)

15:15 - 15:30

Health break: Mindfulness & meditation led by Catriona Towriss of Art and Health

15:30 - 16:30

Session #4: Mindful Interventions chaired by Dr Victoria Hume

How the Lea Toto programme’s enhanced case management approach has brought joy to HIV positive households in the urban slums of Nairobi, Kenya by Judith Wamboye (Children of God Relief Institute – Nyumbani, Kenya).

The Accomplishments of Voz Armonia (Voice Harmony) in COVID interventions in Butaro, Rwanda by student representatives Olivier Mbarushimana Nshuti, Pascaline Nsanzurwanda Uwase, Witness Uwera with Dr Matt Ames (University of Global Health Equity, Rwanda)

16:30 - 17:00

Poetry readings

17:00 - 17:15


Call For Art And Photography

Call for Entries: Digital Photography Exhibit 2021 on the theme of ‘Finding Joy in Healthcare in Africa’ We are seeking digital submissions on the theme of happiness, joy, trust, comfort, and confidence in African approaches to healthcare and wellbeing. We all seek joy in how we cope with the experience of illness, treatment and general wellbeing in a variety of ways. Whether it means enjoying your morning ritual stretch, or snuggling up with your new-born baby, cheering up a patient or enjoying your duties as a carer.

We are inviting people of all experience to share these moments of joy and warmth with us through their photography. Specifically, we are seeking digital contributions (photography, or images of art) to display on our online gallery as we share our scholarly contributions on the theme.

Location: This is a virtual exhibition which will be hosted on this website
Eligibility: This exhibition is open to artists and photographers globally.

Please read the Terms and Conditions before submitting your photographs.

Deadline for entries is 11:59 PM, Monday 30 August, 2021.


Submissions can also be sent directly to

About The Organisers

The Southern and Eastern African Medical and Health Humanities network (SEAMHH), a regional network of Medical and Health Humanities Africa (MHHA) is collaborating with our partners, the Malawi Medical Humanities Network (MHHN) in collaboration with The Art of Health (Ameer Shaheed and Catriona Towriss).

I am interested

    Terms & Conditions

    Photo Submission
    I have read this Photo Submission Agreement, understand its content and agree to its terms.

    1. The photograph, image or graphic that I am submitting (“Submission” or “photograph” or “image”) is my original work and I (“Submitter”) currently hold all rights to it.

    2. I am at least eighteen (18) years of age, or if I am under 18 the consent of my parent or guardian grants the usage rights of Submission.

    3. To the best of my knowledge, my Submission does not infringe or violate any trademark, copyright or privacy rights of any third party. I acknowledge that I have secured all required releases, consents and permissions from any individuals appearing in the Submission.

    4. I grant ‘Finding Joy’ permission to modify, publish, archive, backup or otherwise use the Submission in whole or in part on this website for the duration of its existence.

    5. I grant ‘Finding Joy’ the right to attach wording to the Submission only as the Submitter provides, including name (to provide photo credit); the geographic location of the photograph; and general information about the photograph. ‘Finding Joy’ will not use these images to seek or accept sponsorship to promote a product, person, service or company.

    6. I understand and acknowledge that submitting a photograph or image to ‘Finding Joy’ does not guarantee acceptance, use or publication of the photograph or image and that ‘Finding Joy’ in its sole discretion will decide which photographs or images it uses and for the exclusive purpose on sharing on this online exhibition.

    7. I acknowledge that I am entitled to no compensation in connection with this Agreement and any photographs, images or other materials I submit. I waive any and all claims I may have against ‘Finding Joy’ for any remuneration for any submissions I may make to the online exhibition.

    8. I understand and agree that ‘Finding Joy’ has no liability for any unauthorized use of the Submission by third parties. ‘Finding Joy’, for its part, will not authorize any third party use of the Submission.

    I am interested

      Photographer: Matt Hedt

      Image 1 - Daniella:

      Daniella Kayitesi, in her role as Partners in Health District Program Director (DPD) for Kirehe District, in front of Kirehe District Hospital, Rwanda.

      Image 2 - Laban:

      Laban Bikorimana, nurse and Partners In Health Research Coordinator for studies related to safe cesarean sections at Kirehe District, Rwanda

      Photographer: Neil Overy

      Image 1 - The wisdom of cats

      The therapeutic joy of a cat snuggle

      Image 2 - Smiling behind the mask and in the eyes

      The privilege of getting my second C19 vaccine

      Art Workshop

      My Hands - Astrid Treffry-Goatley

      Astrid Treffry-Goatley's Expression

      My Hands - Josien de Klerk

      Josien de Klerk's Expression

      Poet: August Magolowondo Jnr

      The Soul Savers

      August delivers a poetic expression the relief experienced among Healthcare Workers - 4th Year Bachelor of Arts-Humanities student,Chancellor College University of Malawi

      Poet: Grace Sinoya

      Angels in Lab Coats

      Grace conveys a beautiful poetic story of relief experienced among Healthcare Workers - 4th Year Bachelor of Arts-Humanities student,Chancellor College University of Malawi

      Photographer: Elrietha Olivier


      4th Year Audiology Students who completed their 6 week Community Block in Vredenburg during 2021

      Producer / Videographer: Takondwa Senzani

      Cleaning Mudi: An Artistic Revolution

      ArtMalawi addressed health related issues caused by the pollution of Mudi River and using art as an ambitious medium to combat climate change