More to life than flesh and bones: the Sangoma tradition

A word of warning: I will write about something here that I know very little about. Something that a lot of people consider beyond rational understanding, and that others consider plain nonsense. Something those with a strong (and narrow-minded) Christian attitude wrongly (!) consider witchcraft, and that I have not yet been granted the chance to experience first hand. I tried, but due to an illness my meeting with Noksangoma had to be cancelled, and another appointment was impossible to make. It wasn’t time yet, perhaps, to see it in a light more akin to the topic under discussion. However, I feel like I have to write about the sangomas, the traditional diviners and healers in southern and notably in South Africa. Not only because they play an important role in the culture, even in the 21st century, also because they can bridge the potentially wide gap between ancient beliefs and practices on one side, and modernity on the other, and also because some engage in political matters. I also feel I must write about them because I am personally intrigued by what I’ve seen and heard, not least because I have noticed similarities to what I learn in my training in gestalt therapy.

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The Beat … on drumming in Maboneng

As I am expanding my radius in Jo’burg, I went to Maboneng Sunday market (a.k.a. Market on Main) in the company of my flat mate Tuğçe. What a lovely place with nice stuff to buy (I did, a shirt), and plenty of food stands. My main objective though was drumming. My friend Vuyi had told me there would be drummers there, and so I was excited to see for myself, and perhaps to join in. After all I had just bought myself a drum here, though thought wise to leave it at home for this first visit. When our taxi passed by a group of drummers on lively Fox Street I told him to stop. We’d arrived – obviously! I did enjoy the drumming going on there, and later hijacked a drum and played some myself (see below).

My new drum – made in Ghana

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