Muti Market , Warwick Triangle in Durban.
Muti (muthi) is a term for traditional medicine in Southern Africa as far north as Lake Tanganyika. The word muti is derived from the Zulu word for tree, of which the root is -thi. 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, but it is also applied to formulations used in traditional medical dispensing. 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.
Correct form of the word
This noun is of the umu / imi class, consequently the singular (tree) is rendered umuthi and plural (trees) is imithi. Since the pronunciation of the initial vowel of this umu / imi class of Zulu noun, is unstressed, the singular umuthi is sometimes heard as ‘Muthi‘. The word is rendered as muti due to the historical effects of United Kingdom British Colonial spelling.
In colloquial English and Afrikaans the word may be used as per the following example: “My doctor gave me some muti for my sore throat” “My dokter het vir my muti verskaf vir my seer keel”