Sangoma: Zulu Traditional healers

Director: Peter Davis
Running time: 54’ - Canada, 1997



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Peter Davis

Director: Peter Davis



Ever since the European invasions of sub-Saharan Africa began, purveyors of indigenous traditions of healing have been denigrated as “witch doctors”. Their methods did not conform to Western “scientific” medicine, and so were dismissed as mumbo-jumbo. Yet Africans in general have clung to the healers who have served their communities for centuries, and believe that their methods are efficacious.

In South Africa, even with a national health service, the majority of the indigenous population consults regularly with their local healers, even though they have to pay for the service. In Zululand, these healers are sangomas, who heal principally through divination, and inyangas, who heal through medicinal herbs. Since the fall of apartheid there have been attempts to integrate the indigenous and the Western systems of healing in primary health care and in the protection of valuable medicinal plants, which are threatened with destruction.