Harare (New Ziana) –TRADITIONAL medical practitioners should adapt to new dynamics in treating patients and move away from the old methods that cast the practice in bad light, an official has said.
In an interview with New Ziana, Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association secretary for education, Prince Mutandi (aka Sekuru Sibanda), said the adjustment to the new contexts should be reflected in the dressing, conduct and methods of treating patients.
“Traditional healers should move with the times and adopt new dynamics that demystify the colonial perceptions and remove the stigma around the practice,” he said.
“We want to cleanse traditional healing of the negative and misleading connotations associated with it, so that people can be at ease with the practitioners and not fear them.”
Most traditional healers in Zimbabwe and many other African countries wear softened skins of wild animals, either whole or in strips, head gear made of feathers of birds, dried fibres and leaves, ornaments of leopard, crocodile teeth, small tinkling bells and rattling seedpods during healing sessions.
The wild appearance is intended to create a frightening effect and to indicate the ability to see hidden sources of illness and evil.
Mutandi said the Government should also assist in debunking the colonial mentality of associating traditional healing with evil and witchcraft.
“The Government should start by raising the recognition and support that it gives the Traditional Practitioners Council by equating it with the Medical and Dental Practitioners Council,” he said.
He said the Government should avail wards in public hospitals to admit patients who prefer to be treated by traditional medical healers and not to force them to be attended by allopathic doctors.
A Chinese traditional medicine and acupuncture clinic was opened at Parirenyatwa General Hospital in September 2020.
Mutandi said people should also stop referring to traditional healers as “witchdoctors” as it associated them more with killing than with treating ailments.
Traditional healers (n’angas in Shona and sangomas in IsiNdebele) use a combination of herbs, medical/religious advice and spiritual guidance to heal people.
They are registered under ZINATHA and recognised under the Traditional Medical Practitioners Act, together with faith healers, herbalists,
prophets and spirit mediums.
Traditional healers are believed to have powers to tell fortunes, and to change, heal, bless or even kill people.
Most Zimbabweans rely on traditional healers as their main source of help in all matters of life although the majority consult them under cover of darkness due to the stigma associated with them.
Traditional healers have existed for decades, long before the arrival of white settlers, and freedom fighters repeatedly consulted them during the liberation war.