by Matthew Karsten,


South African Sangoma

I’m one really lucky guy. At least that’s what my sangoma tells me. What is a sangoma, you might ask? A traditional Nguni healer, seer, counselor and shaman. The native peoples of South Africa have been practicing the profession for thousands of years and many still do today. While visiting Khula, a rural Zulu township on the outskirts of St. Lucia, I was invited into the home of the local sangoma to consult with my ancestral spirits.

Men always enter the sacred ndumba (healing hut) before the women, in order to protect against snakes. Luckily, the small thatched room was snake-free. Once seated inside, I was given a smoldering bundle of Imphepho (perennial herb) twigs and was told to inhale the smoke while reciting my name. This ritual act would summon my ancestors with whom the sangoma would consult.

The next step in the process is to throw shells or bones and interpret their positions to understand my fate. The sangoma threw a bundle of seashells onto the floor of the hut while reciting chants in the Zulu language. My spiritual ancestors would determine where the shells landed, and the sangoma reads these positions and applies their meaning to my life.

The verdict? I’m a very lucky man, with a close-knit family who loves me. But to ensure a bright future, I would need to prepare a traditional braai (South African barbecue) in honor of my ancestors. Who can blame my ancestors for craving tasty grilled meat in the afterlife? I think I’ll easily be able to accommodate them with that request.

African sangomas have many different roles in the native community. Not only are they spiritual healers, but they can also heal physical ailments, provide personal advice, protect warriors, recite oral history and even find lost cattle. Both men and women can become sangomas if they are called to the profession by the spirits.

These consultations are part of an ancient tradition that continues to live on in the modern world. Visiting a local sangoma will provide a traveler with an interesting and entertaining South African cultural experience.

You May Also Like:
Reason to Travel to South Africa: Penguins
Exploring South Africa’s Wine Country

6 Responses

  1. DBCoop says:

    I wonder if a sangoma can tell me where I'll find the next great travel bargain?

  2. Juanita says:


    How does a person get in touch with a Sangoma woman for a reading in the U.S?

  3. Nonkululeko says:

    What I nid to know its my future

  4. I almost salute the courage and handwork and confidence of this poor person that efficiently he is advertising his skill in a unique style. And all the products he is introducing in his little decorated corner is amazing and appreciable indeed.

  5. great place of information you shared share about desert safari in dubai as well.

  6. essay papers says:

    While travelling through different areas or countries what you needs to know is the guidance and ideas of how you can go through from different areas or countries, here is the sufficient place mentioned in this article.

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Kwin MosbyKwin is Managing Producer of His multimedia career has included working as a TV news reporter/producer and publications editor. What inspires Kwin to travel? It’s relaxing beach locations, vibrant...


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