Macalane Malindi and Linda Theron
Linda C. Theron and Adam M. C. Theron
Resilience studies among majority and minority world inhabitants have shown that meaning making is a pathway to resilience. More recently, however, resilience researchers have urged deeper understanding of how context and culture inform processes (like meaning making) that encourage positive adaptation to hardship and suffering. Drawing on multiple case studies, including rich narrative and visual data, our chapter sheds light on how making positive meaning of poverty, and the suffering that is typically associated with indigence, encourages young Black South African adults to adjust positively to their difficult lives. More specifically, we focus on how their constructive meaning making is nuanced by Africentric cultural traditions and beliefs. The stories and drawings of these young Black South Africans illustrate how collectivist philosophy and kinship practices promote equanimity in the midst of suffering. Their stoical acceptance and simultaneous unwavering future orientation is rooted in profound respect for humanity (including their own), spirituality, and accounts (oral and written) of South Africans who survived suffering. These cultural resources encourage an interpretation of suffering that levies no blame (either at the self or others), that reframes hardship as temporary and manageable, and that attributes constructive rationales for suffering. Concurrently, these young people’s acceptance of the aforementioned cultural resources, and help-seeking transactions with their ecologies support their process of making positive meaning of suffering. Thus, we theorize that meaning making that promotes constructive adjustment to hardship, as a mechanism of resilience for Black South Africans battling poverty, is a dynamic, bi-directional process embedded in traditional culture.