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The Different Types of Traditional African Healers

There are different types of traditional African healers. The traditional healers can have different names due to culture and/or language.

One traditional healer is called the diviner (sangoma). The diviner is usually a highly


The ancestors grant the calling the diviner upon the chosen individual. The individual must complete an apprenticeship which can last from 6 months to 10  years.

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The herbalist (inyanga) is usually a male who does not receive an ancestral calling but must complete an apprenticeship. The herbalist gains knowledge about medicinal plants, natural treatments, and medicinal mixtures of animal origin. An herbalist can provide preventative and prophylactic treatment as well as rituals.

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The midwife/birth attendant is usually a highly respected elderly woman who assists during the delivery/birth of child(ren).

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An oracle is a person who gives insightful counsel through does divination and incantation. Divination is a diagnostic way to discover hidden sin (ex. making an ancestor angry). Incantation is a ritual done with herbs.



Okpako, D. (n.d.). African medicine: tradition and beliefs. The Pharmaceutical Journal, 276(2), 239-240. Retrieved from

Truter, I. (2007). African traditional Healers: Cultural and religious beliefs intertwined in a holistic way. SA Pharmaceutical Journal, 74(8), 57-58. Retrieved from

Kimberly Johnson is the owner of Elements of Healing, LLC which is an herbal remedy company where products are made by hand with undivided attention and love. Check out the Facebook business page for company products and prices by clicking the link at the top of this page.

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