Category: south Africa, 2019

Waterfront Rituals and More Sangomas

April 7 and 8

Before breakfast and checkout we head to the beach to photograph groups of traditional healers and religious groups that usually come on Sundays to pray at sunrise. The scene is interesting, but disturbing to me, as those being initiated are treated very roughly and seem in danger of drowning.

We return to the hotel for a quick breakfast and then head south, past Port Shepstone to another Zulu community in the foothills of the Ntantana Mountain overlooking both the Nyandezulu Waterfall and the sea. Dudu Malinga welcomes us into her home where she lives with her daughter, grandchild and nephew in a rural Zulu Village.

We meet Sharon, who leads us deep into the community of the KwaNzimakwe, meeting elders of the community including Mr Dlezi, who is an elder in this small village, a full member of the Shembe Church. The people in this community are also connected to the WOWZulu organization.

Afterwards we visit a number of different “sangomas” (traditional healers or shamans) and participate in their rituals. The women in our group have to improvise skirts out of scarves. Sangomas are traditional healers of South Africa, practitioners of traditional African medicine. They fulfill different social and political roles in the community, including divination, healing physical, emotional and spiritual illnesses, directing birth or death rituals, finding lost cattle, protecting warriors, counteracting witchcraft, and narrating the history, cosmology, and myths of their tradition.

There are two main types of traditional healers within the Nguni, Sotho-Tswana, and Tsonga societies of Southern Africa: the diviner(sangoma), and the herbalist (inyanga). These healers are effectively South African shamans who are highly revered and respected in a society where illness is thought to be caused by witchcraft, pollution (contact with impure objects or occurrences) or through neglect of the ancestors. It is estimated that there are as many as 200,000 indigenous traditional healers in South Africa compared to 25,000 Western-trained doctors.

we visit with an elderly Shembe couple (Mr and Mrs Dlezi) and, of course, encounter the inevitable cute little boy.

Late in the day we continue to Port Edward, where we stay at the quite nice Estuary Hotel & Spa.

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