This comparative case study seeks to describe the traditional African psychosocial support practices used in postcolonial Southern Africa. We use an indigenous psychology theory (relationship‐resourced resilience) as a theoretical lens to understand and supplement dominant Western discourses on psychosocial support. Seven Southern African communities with high need and indigenous belief systems were conveniently sampled. Participatory reflection and action methods were used to generate data from a snowball sample of individuals with a dominant African home language and who demonstrated significant vulnerability (n = 430: elders = 240; youth = 190; men = 150; and women = 280). Focus groups were audio‐recorded and their speech transcribed. Observation data were documented in photographs. After in‐case and cross‐case analysis, we found that psychosocial support was collective, pragmatic, and capitalised on networking. The psychosocial support strategies expand insight into the indigenous psychology theory on collective resilience. The intentional description of robust non‐Western psychosocial support practices, continued to be used by elders and young people in rural and urban spaces in Southern Africa, establishes that endemic practices exist in lieu of policy‐level support to provide much‐need services given frequent and intense need. Knowledge of the way in which psychosocial support is commonly provided affords an opportunity to graft development initiatives onto that which has withstood adversity, rather than reimagining interventions.
This research paper and approach have emerged as a result of the work and thinking advanced by Kim Samuel in her collaboration with Oxford University's Poverty and Human Development Initiative and through her leadership as President of the Samuel Family Foundation.This research has also been done in partnership with Synergos, the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund (NMCF), and the Foundation for Community Development (FDC) in Mozambique, working to overcome isolation and deepen social connectedness for children and youth in Southern Africa. Nelson Mandela Children's Fund (NMCF) Researchers: Vuyani Patrick Ntanjana & Fezile July.Nelson Mandela Children's Fund Regional Partners: SADC Countries; South African Provinces: Lesotho—Red Cross‐Lesotho; Gauteng—Albertina Sisulu Special School; Swaziland—Save the Children, Swaziland; Eastern Cape—Diaz Primary School; Namibia—Church Alliance for Orphans; Limpopo—Sepanapudi Traditional Authority; North West—Emmang Basadi Advocacy and Lobby Organisation.