Normally, but it is not about healers’ ability

Normally, people
prefer to go to doctor to get treatment, but in South Africa majority of the
population prefer to go sangomas who are healers for treating physical,
psychosomatic, and even psychic complains instead of hospitals. In the South
Africa, there are 300 000 practicing sangomas and only 23 000 medical doctors.
This number shows us how sangomas comes into demand and, on the other hand, how
doctors kept in background. Another issue about sangomas, their treatment
stages include rituals which are religiously important for them. Majority of
the population in South Africa believe sangomas. In the documentary, a boy
summarises why they believe these healers by saying “…they can see what I
cannot see”. I think it is related that people mostly tend to believe spiritual
events and these beliefs make them confident. That is one reason why people go
these healers for traditional treatment. Another reasons are about hospitals
and doctors. People have to wait hours in the overcrowded waiting rooms to see
a doctor. It is tiring for people to wait in hospitals while they gets full
attention in sangomas. The other reason about doctors has both disinterest and
historical base. One man in the documentary said ‘White’ doctors gave people
medicine and sent them in their homes. As describe in the documentary, sangomas
get integrated with you personally and they consider about people’s daily or
personal issues. However, doctors generally prefer to detach from patients
about these things. Also, after end of the colonial period, some African people
prefer to be away from White people because of their traumatic past and I think
it has subconscious effect in their today.

Additionally,
people believe sangomas and their treatment but it is not about healers’
ability to cure people. It is about that they are seen as ancestor and also as
religious man. In the documentary, there was a little part that shows the wall
of sangoma’s place and it was written ‘Church’. Also it was said that they call
themselves as Christian priest. In that sense, it seem like syncretism because
they made combination between African own culture and religion, plus the
Christianity. By the way, I find it as an interesting combination because there
is no other evidence about Christianity visually until that part of the
documentary comes. Moreover about the sangomas social role and religion, these
healers use some religious rituals during their treatment. At the beginning of
the treatment, they split bones and stones and try to find out about patients’
problem. They believe that the spirit tells sangoma the patients’ problem through
these bones and stones. Of course, their method of treatment were not
scientifically tested, however, people still believe in sangomas. Another event
captured my attention is healers’ explanation of diseases. Explanations are
also based on personal issues. For instance, first patient of sangoma has AIDS
if we consider what sangoma says. He made explanation based on patient’s second
girlfriend; did not say anything about blood or sexual relation. However, he
mentioned about having two girlfriend and also point to the primary girlfriend.
I think that he tried to claim that having two girlfriend is not a good about
religious and result of this situation is a disease. But it does not always be
like in this sample. I mean not everyone has disease due to religious faults.
Also the issue does not have to be always about a disease that we use as a
term. For instance, there were a woman patient who came for her own problem,
not disease. Her problem was that she fall in love with a married man and his
attraction did not satisfy her. That’s why she came to see the sangoma. In that
sense, it has similarity with Turkish culture. Interestingly, there is these
kinds of issues going on religious level in our own culture as well. In Turkey,
there are also religious men who help people about their problems like in the
example, but their method is different while the functions of these ‘hocas’ and
‘sangomas’ are nearly the same. 

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            To sum up, sangomas still prefer
more rather than the hospitals. There are some different reasons about
preferences of these healers, nevertheless, the main reason is that sangomas
have religious importance and this makes people tent to believe them more.
Result of the patients’ belief over the healers, sangomas seem so sure about
their diagnosis and also they seem so confident about what they say. Maybe more
than patients’ belief, their belief of spiritually effect on them mostly. It
also could be in that way because sangomas are kind of middleman between people
and the spirit. This sangoma system is still part of social structure of South
Africa by means of religious significance and also ritual functions.