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Sangomas: The spiritual healers in Zimbabwe

By Staff Reporter

SPIRITUAL healers have long been an integral part of our society regardless of culture, geolocation and religion. Sangomas are traditional headers predominantly active in the Southern Africa region, including Zimbabwe.

According to popular belief, they play a pivotal role in spiritual readings and guidance in Zimbabwean society. In this post, we plan to explore their practices and how they impact society in terms of seeking future insights, direction and healing.

To begin with, Sangomas are regarded as custodians of Zimbabwean culture and heritage. It’s widely believed that they have been preserving, transmitting and protecting traditional knowledge, and rituals of the culture for generations. Their role extends beyond spiritual readings to encompass the preservation of cultural identity.

We can trace the practice of traditional healing by sangomas back to the pre-colonial era of Zimbabwe. Indigenous communities across the region had their own spiritual traditions and healers who served as intermediaries between the living and the spirit world.

The colonial period began in the late 19th century and it had a significant impact on traditional practices, affecting the sangomas as well. Colonial authorities sought to suppress traditional beliefs, resulting in a decline in the practice.

The missionaries at that time introduced Christianity to the natives. Interestingly, sangomas adapted to changing circumstances by blending indigenous beliefs with elements of Christianity. This syncretic approach allowed them to continue practicing while avoiding persecution by authorities.

After Zimbabwe was declared independent in 1980, there was a resurgence of interest in and respect for indigenous cultures and practices, including Ngoma. The newly formed government also recognized the cultural significance of the practice. The authorities passed laws to protect their rights and ensure their contributions to society were acknowledged.

Fast forward to today, sangomas continue to play a vital role in Zimbabwean society. The general public consults them for spiritual guidance, healing and counseling. Many sangomas are also involved in community leadership roles and cultural preservation efforts across the country.

The history of sangomas in Zimbabwe is surely a turbulent one. It’s tainted with colonial oppression followed by modern skepticism. Still, their role as custodians of culture, healers and spiritual guides remains deeply respected within the country. Their practices continue to evolve, reflecting a dynamic blend of traditional wisdom and contemporary relevance.

What Powers Do Sangomas Possess?

Most people believe that Sangomas have a special connection with ancestral spirits. They’re supposed intermediaries between the living and the ancestors, facilitating communication to seek guidance, protection and blessings from the spiritual realm.

Besides spiritual guidance, they’re also known for diagnosing various conditions, both physical and spiritual. They use divination methods, such as bone casting, to identify the root causes of illnesses or life challenges. You can even go for low-cost phone readings from them if you can’t meet up in person. Talk about the modernization of society!

After diagnosis, sangomas typically prescribe remedies and rituals to address the issues. These remedies may include herbal medicines, rituals, cleansing ceremonies and offerings to appease ancestral spirits.

Besides healing physical ailments, sangomas also offer emotional and psychological support. Society has accepted them as counselors who listen to people’s problems, fears and aspirations. They provide guidance on personal issues, relationships, careers, and other critical life decisions.

In many societies, especially in rural Zimbabwe, people trust sangomas to mediate disputes and conflicts within communities. They use their spiritual insight to facilitate reconciliation and restore harmony.

The role of traditional healers, or sangomas, goes beyond spiritual readings and guidance in Zimbabwe. It’s a tiered approach and rooted deeply in the culture and tradition of the country. They sure face their fair share of challenges, including skepticism from modern society, concerns about exploitation, and issues related to the commercialization of their practices.

Regardless, they still serve as spiritual intermediaries, healers, counselors and cultural custodians, playing a vital role in maintaining Zimbabwe’s rich cultural heritage.



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