Understanding the Relationship Between Traditional African Healing and Spirituality

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Relationship Between Traditional African Healing And Spirituality

Traditional African healing has a long-standing history that spans many centuries. However, there is still a lack of understanding among many people regarding how it relates to God, religion, and spirituality. Some individuals mistakenly believe that traditional healers worship the ancestors rather than God. The purpose of this paper is to clarify this relationship by exploring the communication chain between worshipers and the Almighty God.

Additionally, it discusses various aspects of traditional healing, including the types of healers, their training, and their roles within their communities. It is important to note that the services provided by traditional healers extend beyond the use of herbs for physical ailments. They also serve as custodians of traditional African religion and customs, educators about culture, counselors, social workers, and psychologists.

Keywords: African cosmology, traditional African healing, African religion/spirituality, traditional healers, Traditional healing practices, traditional healer near me, Spiritual healers, Sangoma, Inyangas

Relative to other African countries, South Africa is a young democracy. Having been liberated from minority Nationalist Party rule in 1994, many areas of activity are still divided between Western and African philosophies. To encapsulate these divisions, one needs only to listen to the discussions and debates about religion, traditional healing, ‘lobola/magadi’ and traditional ceremonies on radio stations, in the newspapers and other public forums throughout the country. One would immediately realise that South Africa is a complex country with diverse cultural beliefs.

The frontier specialists and in this way the politically-sanctioned racial segregation government forced a Western perspective on individuals of South Africa without an endeavor to decide the legitimacy of the African perspective on issues like traditional African healing and traditional African religion/otherworldliness, which are much of the time joined together. This thought was all around caught by Gumede (1990) who attested that it would be hard to grasp the traditional healer and his/her exchange without taking the idea of traditional African religion/otherworldliness into account.

Traditional African religions/Spirituality: Correspondence between the living and the living-dead

Nigosian (1994: 4) characterized religion overall as “a development or making of the human psyche for managing all human action, and this imaginative action is a human need that fulfills the profound longings and necessities inborn in human instinct”. The traditional African religion, specifically, can be portrayed as ancestral (Van der Walt, 2003).

All in all, its training shifts from one clan to another yet the substance continues as before all over Africa. A clan is characterized as a “social division in a traditional society comprising of families or networks connected by friendly, strict, or direct relations, with a typical culture and tongue, commonly having a perceived pioneer” (Pearsall, 2001: 1530).

Before the Westernization cycle, Africans had consistently had confidence in God and the predecessors and had been significantly profound. This is in opposition to a few provincial specialists and Christian preachers’ overall convictions that Africans were unbelievers. Africans accepted and keep on having faith in the timeless and universal soul of the predecessors and the All-powerful God.

The progenitors are called by various names relying upon one’s ethnic beginnings. The Bapedi, Batswana, and Basotho call them ‘badimo’. The Amazulu and the Amaxhosa call them ‘amadlozi’ and ‘iinyanya’ individually.

African Traditional Healers Certification

In many countries in Africa, now days for someone to be approved by the board of traditional healers in the country, they issue for them a certificate which allows them to start operating freely. this helps to reduce or avoid working with face healers who pretend to be more authentic than the real ones.

In traditional African religion, God is far in excess of the predecessors and is known as the Preeminent Maker/Being and the primary mainstay of the universe (Thorpe, 1993). This is one angle that many individuals who don’t buy into this conviction framework neglect to comprehend: that the God that the traditional African religion endorsers love is the very God that Christians and other strict groupings have confidence in.

Since African religion loves and holds God in the most elevated respect, admirers don’t talk straightforwardly to Him. Their requests and wishes are conveyed to Him thanks to the progenitors. This is frequently supported by enrolling the administrations of a traditional healer who encourages on the most proficient method to speak with the predecessors, contingent upon the reasons for the correspondence and the kind of custom that should be performed.

African Traditional Religions

Traditional African religion, therefore, involves a chain of communication between the worshipers and Almighty God. This chain is, as would be expected, influenced by the cultural context in which it exists, just as Christianity and other religions are embedded within their particular cultural milieus.

Christians communicate directly with God, or through Jesus Christ, whilst traditional African religious believers communicate with God through the medium of the deceased relatives. The deceased relatives are ‘means-to-an-end’ and not the end in themselves. The deceased relatives are conduits of their relatives’ prayers to the Almighty.

On occasion, correspondence between the living, the living-dead and God is finished through the custom butchering of a creature (Gumede, 1990). The act of custom butchering in traditional African religion is much the same as the creature contributions completed by individuals in the Hebrew Scriptures of the Holy book.

Traditional Healers and Rituals Practiced

Traditional healers perform alot of rituals almost every day, this is said to be their day to day means of working on their clients who come for help, it is also commonly used in most African countries like South Africa, Uganda, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Kenya, Swaziland, Lesotho and many other western countries

Penances and precursor love are not bound to the predecessors at the individual and family levels as it were. These sorts of penances can likewise be made, during a lengthy time of starvation that undermines the existence of people, creatures and plants, to what are typically called ‘the town progenitors’ which are the spirits of left bosses and other high positioning imperial figures. In the Bapedi clan, found in the Limpopo region north of South Africa, this is accomplished by social affair the town young ladies who are all still virgins and have not, at this point, gone through the freedoms of section into womanhood or adulthood.

Traditional African healing

The meaning of traditional healing shifts. As per the World Wellbeing Association (WHO) (WHO, 1976: 8) traditional medication/healing is “the entirety of all information and practices, regardless of whether logical, utilized in diagnosing, forestalling or dispensing with a physical, mental or social disequilibrium and which depend solely on previous experience and perception gave over from one age to another, verbally or recorded as a hard copy” and ” wellbeing rehearses, approaches, information, and convictions consolidating plant, creature and mineral based prescriptions, profound treatments.

manual strategies and exercise, applied particular or in blend, to treat, analyze and forestall sicknesses or keep up with prosperity”. Further, traditional healing incorporates getting diseases with spices otherworldly treatment (Joined Countries Joint Program on HIV/Helps – UNAIDS, 2006). It is comprehensive in its methodology and encapsulates the aggregate insight of native information gave over numerous ages (Ashforth, 2005).

Difference Between African Traditional Healing And western healing

African traditional healing or healers use powers from their ancestors, traditional medicine which is mostly got from the trees, this has been used for decades and it is proved in most African countries. while western healing they use machines to detect or check their clients and then after provide they with clinically approved medications like tablets syrups, injections and many more

To utilize Carl Jung’s idea, these could be viewed as a component of the ‘aggregate oblivious to’s these social orders (Berg, 2003). Parts of this aggregate oblivious will generally reemerge in about hardly any select people as traditional healers.

George Kelly, an American personality psychologist and philosopher, developed the philosophy that he called ‘Constructive Alternativism’, which challenges the notion of a single objective reality (Boeree, n.d.). Although reality exists, it can be constructed, interpreted and understood in different ways. For example, the traditional African healer has a different construction and etiology about schizophrenia to that of a Western healer.

Types of traditional healers

Traditional healers, similar to clinical specialists, are not a homogenous gathering (Ensink and Robertson, 1999). The term traditional healer is an umbrella idea that envelops various kinds of healers with various sorts of preparing and ability. Specialists have distinguished various kinds of traditional healers in various locales (Freeman and Motsei, 1992; Green and Makhubu, 1984).

In the Bapedi clan, traditional healers are by and large called ‘dingaka’ or ‘mangaka’. The various sorts of traditional healers incorporate, soothsayers (‘Ngaka ya ditaola’), Sanusi (‘Sedupe’), traditional specialists and traditional birth chaperons (‘Babelegisi’).

The diviner uses bones and the spirits of the ancestors to diagnose and prescribe medication for different physiological, psychiatric and spiritual conditions. This category includes those that deal with ‘mafofonyane’ (schizophrenia) and ‘malopo’ (being possessed by the spirits of the ancestors that can be healed without the possessed person becoming a traditional healer him or herself). ‘Malopo’ can be treated by a combination of therapies that include dance (Hammond-Tooke, 1989).

Training of African traditional healers

For certain categories of traditional African healers such as diviners, training is a formal and meticulous process that can take between months and years depending on how fast the trainee learns the trade (Peek, 1991). To become a traditional healer a special calling from the ancestors is required. This calling can come through what is generally called an ‘illness’ in the Western paradigm.

These include schizophrenia and psychosis, as well as constant visitations through dreams by one’s ancestors and apparitions instructing a person to become a traditional healer. The authenticity of such callings is verified by a diviner who advises on who should undergo training at an appropriate trainer.

Moreover, not every qualified traditional healer is qualified to train prospective traditional healers. Training of traditional healers is a specialty and yet another calling, in addition to simply being a healer. A traditional healer has to be called to become a trainer of other future healers. There are traditional healers who combine both the normal traditional healing and who specialise in training of prospective traditional healers.

The role of African traditional healers in their communities

In all African regions, traditional healers are very resourceful and play a pivotal role in many spheres of the people’s lives since they are ‘medical knowledge storehouses’ (Yeboah, 2000), African traditional healers serve important roles as educators about traditional culture, cosmology and spirituality. They also serve as counselors, social workers and skilled psychotherapists as well as custodians of indigenous knowledge systems (Mills, Cooper & Kanfer, 2005).

The administrations of traditional healers go a long ways past the purposes of spices for actual sicknesses. A specific illustration of the job of traditional healing reaches out to its utilization in Mozambique. Traditional healers were viewed as important in post nationwide conflict social reproduction and local area modifying in Mozambique, especially in the rustic regions (Honwana, 1997).

It is dicey whether current mental and mental administrations would have been proper in Mozambique, since traditional healing was profoundly involved by delivering socially important mental administrations that included correspondence with the predecessors (Honwana, 1997).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is African traditional healing?

African traditional healing is a holistic system of medicine that has been practiced in Africa for centuries. It is based on the belief that the body, mind, and spirit are all interconnected, and that illness can be caused by imbalances in any of these areas. Traditional healers use a variety of methods to treat illness, including herbal medicine, massage, spiritual counseling, and divination.

What are some of the benefits of African traditional healing?

African traditional healing can be effective in treating a variety of illnesses, including physical ailments such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, and hypertension, as well as mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Traditional healers can also provide valuable counseling and support to help people cope with stress, trauma, and other life challenges.

What are some of the risks of African traditional healing?

Some traditional remedies can be harmful if they are not used properly. It is important to consult with a qualified traditional healer who can assess your individual needs and recommend safe and effective treatments. Additionally, some traditional healers may use methods that are not evidence-based, such as divination or spirit possession. It is important to be aware of these risks and to choose a traditional healer who is reputable and trustworthy.

How can I find a qualified traditional healer?

There are a number of ways to find a qualified traditional healer. You can ask your friends, family, or community members for recommendations. You can also check with your local health department or hospital. Once you have found a few potential healers, be sure to interview them to see if they are a good fit for you.

What should I ask a traditional healer before I start treatment?

There are a number of questions you should ask a traditional healer before you start treatment. These include:

  • What is your training and experience?
  • What methods do you use to treat illness?
  • Are your treatments safe and effective?
  • Are there any side effects to your treatments?
  • What is your fee?

Is African traditional healing compatible with Western medicine?

African traditional healing and Western medicine can be compatible, and many people choose to use both approaches. Traditional healers can often provide valuable insights into the root causes of illness, and they can offer complementary treatments that can help to improve the effectiveness of Western medicine.


This paper epitomizes traditional African healing by talking about the way things are connected to traditional African religion/otherworldliness to advance ideal prosperity. Traditional African religion involves a chain of correspondence among God and the living with the living speaking with God in a roundabout way through the intercession of the predecessors. This paper has likewise point by point a thorough interaction that traditional healers go through prior to qualifying as healers.