The Role of Traditional Healers in South Africa

Traditional healers ~Dr.Moosa in Cape Town ~ South Africa

Learn about traditional healers in South Africa and understand their history!


Who are the traditional healers?

Traditional healers are South African practitioners that use traditional African medicine to provide emotional, spiritual and physical healing to their clients. Other services they are called for are counteracting witchcraft, divination, offering protection and many other practices.

There are many different types of traditional healers with the diviner (sangoma) and herbalist (inyanga) being the main two. Traditional healers can be both male and female, it is believed that a sangoma is called to their duty through illnesses that cannot be cured by conventional methods, this is called an initiation illness that can only be cured once the person goes for training, which is usually served under harsh conditions that are believed to be necessary to prepare the initiate for the intensity that will come with dedicating their life to healing. Sangomas are recognised legally as traditional health practitioners in South Africa.

Benefits Of Traditional Healers In Society

Traditional healers fulfil various social and political roles in South African communities. They provide harmony between ancestors and the living, by serving as a channel that those that the living dead can use to communicate their qualms or desires to the living.

Traditional healers take on this role of mediator with the utmost respect for ancestors and demonstrate this through animal sacrifice and other rituals, that can potentially heal a community that is suffering from illness due to neglecting their roots and failing to know their ancestors.

Traditional healers are health care providers that can assist with healing illnesses that Western medicine is unable to combat due to the spiritual nature of the illness thus boosting primary health care in society. Traditional healers have an important task to narrate the myths and history of their tradition ensuring that society understands their role as healers, essentially protecting the community from scammers and false healers through spreading awareness, regulation, and by taking legal action.

Services Offered By Traditional Healers

Traditional healers offer various services to their clients and to communities to better their livelihoods, below is a list of some of the services offered by traditional healers.

  • Healing Of Illnesses: Traditional healers number one goal is to heal illnesses by creating balanced relations between their afflicted clients and the spirits that are responsible for their illnesses. A healer intercedes between his patient and ancestors in order to make a restitution through rituals and the throwing of bones (ancestral channelling).
  • Birth/Death Rituals: Healers conduct rituals to provide a right of passage during birth or death. In the case of birth a new born baby is welcomed into the world and introduced to it's ancestors. The symbolic aspect of death rituals is to ensure that the dead will have a right of passage to prevent them from being lost and wandering as a ghost as well as to restore the equilibrium between the dead and the living.
  • Educators Of Traditional Culture: Traditional healers serve to educate society about traditional culture and spirituality, spreading indigenous knowledge and creating balance between ancestors and the living.
  • Counteracting Witchcraft: Traditional healers are known to counteract witchcraft by healing ailments that are believed to be caused by witchcraft. In other cases where the patient believes to be cursed the healer will intervene by asking the ancestors for guidance to find the correct medication to help their patient to improve their luck or to simply remove the curse or bad luck assumed to be inflicted by witches.

  • Finding Lost/ Stolen Belongings: In some villages traditional healers are called to find lost or stolen livestock and to return them to their rightful owners. In other cases a healer will be called in to retrieve stolen goods such as phones, devices, and other goods of importance. The traditional healer will be tasked with identifying the thief and sometimes providing the necessary punishment to ensure the thief will never attempt to steal again.

Should I Visit A Healer?

There are many misconceptions about traditional healers that can put one off from a visit, however a traditional healer can help you to understand your life better and they can reveal things about your life and history that you may have never considered before, thus enabling you to make good changes that will improve your life. Traditional healers understand African history and it's heritage, they are the gatekeepers of information about our past, our lineage and our cultures as Africans, serving as our guides throughout our livelihood. There are many testimonials that have been given by patients who have visited traditional healers and found the experience to be life changing.

Traditional healers do not only heal physical illnesses, they can heal emotional and spiritual illnesses as well. Traditional healers are life coaches who have brought people back from the depths of despair by providing reassurance to their clients and pleading with their ancestors to improve their luck and their social standings.

Traditional Medicine

Spiritual medicine that is prescribed by traditional healers is known as muti, this traditional medicine is employed in healing by a herbal specialist or healer.

Traditional healers use botanical plants and products to make this muti that is prepared in different ways depending on the patients afflictions. There are a number of ways a healer can administer muti through different purification practices such as:

  • Vomiting: A herbal mixture is given to a patient to drink, inducing the urge to vomit and cleansing the system through vomiting.
  • Bathing: A mixture is prepared and added into bath water for the patient to bath with and to cleanse themselves.
  • Steaming: Herbs are steamed in a bath or bucket filled with boiling water and the patient is covered with a blanket to inhale the herbal steam and become cleansed.

The healer may also administer enema's to the patient when necessary or depending on the guidance received from dreams and prayer. Cutting skin and applying muti in powder or extract form over the patients cut skin is another way a traditional healer may administer medicine. In most cases a healer will pray and seek guidance from the ancestors to lead them to where the medicinal plants the patient needs are located, in most instances however, the healer will have medicinal herbs stored in their huts or place of work.

Written and directed by Dr.Moosa Lubega.

This article is only a view of an individual and those who believe it's contents. But, we are not responsible for inconveniences of those who don't believe in it. Everybody has rights to own views and beliefs.
Dr. Moosa listed among the basic traditional healers. He's one of the popular providers of great healing services at the city of Cape Town - South Africa.

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