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South Africa Holiday: Inyanga and Sangoma

A patient should ideally go to an inyangas armed with the knowledge of what muti they want. Otherwise they should start by consulting a sangoma (spiritual healers and traditional seers) who can determine the nature of the problem.

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Traditional doctors and spiritual healers are alive and well in South Africa. You will find it hard to find an African in South Africa who has not used one or the other in their recent past.

The Mai Mai bazaar is the oldest market in Johannesburg - dedicated to traditional herbs and healers.
InyangaThe sickly of the city flock here to have their ills, physical and spiritual, divined and treated by traditional healers.
According to Bhekabantu Ngema, a 58-year old "inyanga" (traditional doctor) who has lived in Mai Mai since 1967, patients should ideally come to inyangas with the knowledge of what muti they want.
"Otherwise," says Ngema, "they should start by consulting sangomas (spiritual healers and traditional seers) who can determine the nature of the problem. Only then can we as healers help with the appropriate medicine, or help establish contact with your ancestors."

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Traditional medicine
Sangomas, says Mkhwanazi, normally detect two kinds of bad luck. One is inflicted through witchcraft, usually by a jealous rival, the other is caused by unhappy ancestors. It is here that patients are counselled to slaughter a beast to appease and rekindle relations with the ancestors.
"In other words, sangomas diagnose and prescribe, while we inyangas generally heal, although we can also prescribe, depending on the nature of the problem or whether our ancestors give us the power to help a patient," explains Ngema.
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