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South Africa Holiday: Traditional Medicine & Muti

Muti is a term for traditional medicine in Southern Africa. The word Muti is derived from the Zulu word for tree, of which the root is -thi. For this reason, medicine generally is known as Muti.

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A python skin competes for space with a dead vulture and a baboon on the ceiling. Other concoctions of an indeterminate nature are placed inside labelled bottles. "Isende lehashi" (horse penis) "Zamafufunyane" (for nightmares and hysteria), "Owobusoka" (guaranteed to improve the romantic fortunes of a bachelor), "Zikatokoloshe" (to ward off an evil goblin said to spread terror at night).
Some of the potions are reputed to cure common ailments such as pubic lice, persistent headaches and stomach aches, skin rashes and other identifiable illnesses of a physical nature.
Hence some of the stores double up as consulting rooms. This is where one's fortunes and misfortunes are read and a possible cure suggested. Mai Mai also serves as a training ground for sangomas.

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Traditional healers
Once the muti is obtained, it can be taken in various ways, depending on its form and nature. While some muti is just good for washing with, smearing on one's body, or for burning and inhaling, other muti is designed for elaborate uses like ukuphalaza (regurgitating), ukuchatha (applying by means of an enema), or nokugquma (steaming).
African Traditional Medicine makes use of various natural products, many of which are derived from trees. For this reason, medicine generally is known as Muti.
In Southern Africa, the word Muti is in widespread use in most indigenous African languages, as well as in South African English and Afrikaans where it is sometimes used as a slang word for medicine in general.
Occasions of murder and mutilation associated with some traditional cultural practices, in Southern Africa are also termed Muti killings. Muti killings, more correctly known as medicine murder are not human sacrifice in a religious sense, but rather involve the murder of someone in order to excise body parts for incorporation as ingredients into medicine.
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