Topic-icon Edna Mzoneli: her sacrifice

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2 years 4 months ago #48 by Joan
Replied by Joan on topic Edna Mzoneli: her sacrifice
The quote from Professor Mashaba's book (1995:17-18) is interesting. It records the professional career of a nurse, Edith Mzoneli, who trained at the McCord Hospital in Durban. She was one of the first four nurses who trained for three years at that institution and received a hospital certificate at the end of the training. The cost of the training was 2 (British) pounds per month per nurse - and the nurse herself received 1 pound per month, free boarding and lodging and uniforms.

Although very interesting in itself, this description of life as a young nurse in the early 20th century allows us to critically think about a few things:

The training of nurses: when nursing training commenced in South Africa, it was hospital based and the nurses therefore received a hospital certificate. Compare that with modern day university and college based training, which culminates in a internationally recognized degree or diploma. Does the boarding, lodging and uniforms sound familiar?!

The politics of the time: it is essential to consider the training of Edith Mzoneli and her class mates in the correct historical context. In the early 20th century South Africa was a British colony. Mission schools and hospitals were the primary providers of teaching and health care. There was much debate about training young, black women to become nurses as there were none. The nursing training commenced by Henrietta Stockdale in 1877 was for white women only. Mashaba's chapter that describes how, when and where training for black nurses commenced is aptly titled "The experiment: black girls treat on 'holy' ground".

The economy in the early 20th century: 1 pound per month?! What was that worth in those times? Economists to the rescue please!

The socio-cultural perspective: the changing role of women, and in this case, young black women becomes evident. Instead of being only a wife and mother after her marriage, Edna Mzoneli returns to her career as a nurse. Women are therefore gradually entering the workplace. What effect did this change in social status have on the women themselves, their families and society in general?
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2 years 4 months ago #47 by Joan
Edna Mzoneli: her sacrifice was created by Joan
I am still working through the old nursing magazines that was discovered in a cupboard at work.

The attached copy from Nursing RSA Verpleging 11/12(6); Nov/Dec 1991 page 41 describes how the Cape Town suburb of Pinelands was established after overcrowding was recognized as a contributory factor in the spread of the 1918 Spanish Influenza Epidemic.

The article reminded me of a nurse who, in my opinion, portrayed the professional and ethical behavior all nurses should strive for. Edna Mzoneli is described by *Mashaba 1995:18 as follows:

"Edna Mzoneli was a fine product of this training. She later died as a result of her great personal sacrifice, denying herself comfort and good health in order to nurse victims of the 1918 influenza epidemic. She is said to have returned to work after her marriage, even though she was expecting her first baby and in poor health. She opted to come forward and save lives rather than nurse her own condition. When the epidemic was over she returned home thoroughly exhausted, went into labour, and died two days later of influenza. Dr McCord pays tribute to Edna's heroic behaviour as follows:
No doctor dying in his fight to stop the ravages of an epidemic, no medical researcher falling victim to the germs to be studied, ever gave his life more truly to the cause of medicine than this girl, Edna Mzoneli."
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*note Prof. Mashaba's book in our recommended list of Books to Read.

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