Young sangomas go digital

Everson Luhanga

How do sangomas cope with the influx of people coming to them seeking help? Well, meet the digital sangomas who will throw bones and heal patients via the internet!

Scrolla.Africa spoke to two young sangomas who are calling upon other healers to go digital.

Most sangomas say unemployment caused by Covid-19 has led to a big increase in people needing help because of stress and anxiety.

Sangoma Tinyiko Mtsenga says that in the past year many people have lost their jobs, families have broken up and people have lost assets like cars and houses. 

“With the mounting pressure to provide for their families, parents suffer from depression,” she says.

“They are seeking different kinds of help and many believe sangomas are their answer.” 

Mtsenga, known by her ancestral name as Mahlasela Tinyiko, has urged sangomas to consult with their clients online and help them digitally.

“We are living in a world where everything is going digital. It is only fair that we, as sangomas, also change the way our ancestors did things. 

She says there are two ways to help patients:

• WhatsApp video call 

• by picture reading.

“With WhatsApp video calling, a patient can engage with the healer and agree or disagree and get help by the end of the consultation,” she says.

She says picture reading is more tricky as there was no direct communication between patient and sangoma while the sangoma rolled the bones. 

“We rely solely on the bones to lead us,” Mtsenga says.

Sangoma Dipou Chauke, known as Sangoma Mahambanomoya, said as much as they encourage people to get used to going digital, she still believes in physical interaction with clients.

She prefers having clients in the indumba as the candle light relieves stress and depression and the burning of impepho helps clear blocked breathing passages to those inhaling the smoke.

“But it is so scary to have people in your indumba for consultation,” she says. 

“With Covid-19 you can’t have people you don’t know coming in and out of your yard without proper medical check-ups.”

Whether people prefer one to one or not, modern sangomas have gone digital!