Accepted paper:

Methods used by the Southern Nguni people of South Africa in healing ukuhanjwa illness

Authors:

Kholekile Hazel Ngqila (Walter Sisulu University)

Paper short abstract:

Many African patients attribute illness to a spiritual or social cause, hence they are found to be opting for holistic healing approach. Given this, the study proposes to probe the methods used by the Southern Nguni of the Eastern Cape in South Africa in healing ukuhanjwa illness.

Paper long abstract:

Beliefs about health, as well as what makes people ill, are influenced by culture and these beliefs tend to guide people with which healing approach they should apply. It has also been recognized by medical practitioners that many African patients often attribute illness to a spiritual or social cause rather than a biomedical cause. This has influenced particular African communities to opt for what they consider to be a more holistic healing approach emphasizing the whole body, mind and spirit. Given this, the study proposes to probe the methods used by the Southern Nguni of the Eastern Cape in South Africa in healing ukuhanjwa illness. The Southern Nguni describe ukuhanjwa as an 'attack' of a person, young and old, by the 'familiars' which penetrate the body through any bodily opening, resulting in ukuhanjwa illness. The study works through attributional theory which recognises that illness is attributed to spiritual and social causes, in this instance, the Southern Nguni's recognition of illness signalling the entry into the body by 'familiars'. By probing the specific healing methods of the Southern Nguni, the study seeks to probe how the causal link is constructed between the illness and the familiars, as well as the connection between the illness and the healing methods preferred. The ethnographic focus will be the OR Tambo District Municipality in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Data will be collected using qualitative research methods focusing on in-depth interviews and observations amongst a sample group of 70 participants.

panel SE23
Action anthropology, tribal medicine and development