In life there are some things that happen that one cannot explain or find answers to in science and research. Beliefs and tradition play a great role in explaining some of these mysterious occurrences and at times spiritual healing is the only solace one can find.
The African continent is rich in mineral resources, wild life, culture, heritage and deep roots in spiritual beliefs. South Africa like the rest of Africa has strong ties to culture and tradition, as a result a majority of South Africans tend to resort to using both traditional and modern means of healing.
Sangomas and inyanga are shamans who attempt to heal, establishing balance and a harmless relationship between the afflicted person and the spirits that are causing the illness or problem that one might be experiencing. The healer intercedes between the world of the living and that of the dead in order to bring about a resolve and peace.
Sangomas and inyanga differ in a sense that the sangoma relies heavily on divination for healing purposes and might also be considered a type of fortune-teller. While the inyanga is concerned mainly with medicine, particularly made from plants and animals. The plants are usually of an exotic nature as the inyanga is directed towards the type and location of the medicine by ancestors.
The inyanga and sangoma are revered and respected in society because of tradition and culture as well as for their ability to speak to ancestors and heal. A majority of people consult both doctors and traditional healers and use both forms of medicine to heal their ailment. Modernisation has caused a blurring of the two practices where the sangoma and the inyanga tend to practice both arts.
Some people feel that their ailment comes not from the physical but from the spiritual form and in this regard solely seek the help of traditional healers. Spiritual healing includes divination, healing the physical, emotional, and spiritual illness which can also be due to witchcraft, performing protection spells, narrating history and reading the cosmology.
The sangoma may burn incense impepho, and snuff can also be used to communicate with ones ancestors through prayer, humming and ululating. Sangomas are able to access advice through ancestors amadlozi by allowing amadlozi to take over. Sangomas go into a trance through the sound of the beating drum, dancing and chanting and the burning incense, during this the sangoma spiritually leaves their body and allows the amadlozi to take possession of the body.
It is the idlozi or ancestor that is believed to communicate with the afflicted directly and narrate the patients life story and source of ailment, providing specific information on the patients problem.
An animal sacrifice is usually requested by amadlozi to appease the spirits along with a ritual that is performed by the sangoma. this act is believed to bring about restitution for both the afflicted and the spirit world.
There exists many different forms of physical and spiritual healing that different cultures associate with in the world which vary in practice, but all share a common goal which is to heal. Culture and tradition ensures an identity and the preservation of history. This has been a brief look at South African history, particularly Zulu history, although traditional healing is widely practiced it is not adopted by all.