‘It is not an excuse to abuse’

Amma Anane-Agyei is co-ordinator of the London Borough of Tower
Hamlets’ African Families Project, which began in 2003. The project
monitors and audits the work of professionals with local African
families to ensure they receive the right services. It also
provides staff with information and guidance as well as relevant

Anane-Agyei does accept that some Africans hold a strong belief in
kindoki. But she says many UK social workers lack a detailed
understanding of the impact of the African spirit world on the
Western way of life. However, she is clear that belief in kindoki
should not justify abusive behaviour. And practitioners must not
dismiss it, citing a person’s “culture” as the reason for their

“The belief in kindoki is real,” she says. “But it is nonsense for
Western professionals who interact with Africans to suggest it is
an excuse to abuse – it is not. To me this lack of knowledge and
skills means they are a dangerous practitioner.”

Part of Anane-Agyei’s role is to join social services, health and
education professionals and community group workers in visits to
referrals involving African families and act as a bridge between
practitioner and client. She says: “Some staff aren’t always aware
enough of African cultures and do not acknowledge their own
weaknesses – as well as strengths – in this area.”

So what does Anane-Agyei think social care workers can do to
improve their dealings with clients from African backgrounds? She
advocates professionals “go out of their way to look for knowledge”
about African spiritualism and be trained in understanding this. In
order for this to happen she emphasises that support needs to come
from the top of an agency: “We have to get the management to
understand there is a new phenomenon that needs to be learned

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