South African Traditional Healers – Inyanga and Isangoma

Zulu people believe in two distinct types of traditional healers, the inyanga, who specialises in herbal medicines and potions; and the isangoma, who uses divination, mediumship, and what might be termed “psychic healing” to assist their clients.

Traditional Medicine Garden
In South Africa, traditional medicine is recognised by many medical aid societies. There is even a traditional medicine or muti garden in the Durban Botanic Gardens.

Both the inyanga and isangoma must acquire their knowledge through a long apprenticeship, the isangoma however, must have been sacredly called to their profession, and have little choice when called.

Many Izinyanga Have Shops or Consulting Rooms
In modern society, the status of these medicine men or woman has been translated into wealth. Most izinyanga (plural of inyanga) in urban areas have shops in which they have consulting rooms and from which they sell their medicines or muti.

Izangoma Throw the Bones
Izangoma (plural of isangoma) predict the present and the future of the people who come to seek help from them. Sometimes they are expected to find stolen goods. They throw bones to determine the future and to find stolen things.

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