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Nganga (Traditional African Healers)

Nganga is a Bantu term for the traditional healer—also known as isangoma in Nguni languages—who is held to maintain relations with ancestor spirits bestowing upon her abilities that are not available to others, in order to uncover the causes of illness and other misfortunes and prescribe remedial action. The ancestors may come from nganga’s own lineage or be provincial guardian spirits or generalized forebears in different social settings. Nganga communicates with the spirits in divination, trance, and dreams for the benefit of others. Apart from diagnosing and treating diseases, she protects individuals and groups from witchcraft, prophesizes, searches for objects, and conducts rituals of passage. The ability to see and counteract witches makes nganga have ambivalent qualities in the view of societies in which they ...

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