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Stellenbosch University (2019)

Exploring and identifying the indigenous healers of madwaleni and their relationship with ethnobotany and healthcare

May, Thandokazi

Titre : Exploring and identifying the indigenous healers of madwaleni and their relationship with ethnobotany and healthcare

Auteur : May, Thandokazi

Université de soutenance : Stellenbosch University

Grade : Master of Science (MS) 2019

Résumé partiel
The use of indigenous medicine is widely known in South Africa. In fact, it is estimated that 80-85% of black South Africans consult with indigenous healers in both rural and urban communities (Moshabela, et al., 2016). Despite increased academic interest in indigenous health knowledge (IHK) in the country, there is still interest in studies that are aimed at documenting the indigenous practitioners as well as their herbs and plants. Suggestions have been made to fill this knowledge gap by conducting ethnobotanical surveys of the plants used by indigenous healers as well as to identify who are these healers that use these plants. Aim and Objectives : The main aim and objective of this study was to explore and identify the indigenous healers of the Madwaleni, including the illnesses these healers manage, and which herbs are used to treat each illness. Other objectives were to : catalogue the ethnobotanical diversity used by these healers, and to identify the precise botanical environment that these herbs grow as well as the relationship these healers have with these environments. Lastly, the study explores the relationship between indigenous healers and the biomedical health care system in the area. Method : This is a descriptive, ethnographic study that used qualitative methods of data collection. The data was collected through participant observation, where participants took part in interviews and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs). There were 37 participants and key stakeholders, 30 being practitioners of indigenous medicine, 5 being biomedical health professionals, and 2 being traditional leaders. Both in-depth interviews and FGDs were used to collect data, totalling up to 6 interviews and 15 FGDs. Life stories were documented as part of exploring methods that could be used in the reconciliation process. The plants used by the indigenous healers of the area were documented transcriptionally and photographically. Findings : • The indigenous healers of Madwaleni can be categorized in five categories : (1) amaGqirha (indigenous doctors) and (2) amaXhwele (herbalists), (3) elite older Xhosa women and (4) amaTola (older elite men), and (5) abaThandazeli (faith healers). Intersectionality and partnerships between these groups of healers was welcomed and encouraged, although some unresolved tensions exist between the healers due differences in philosophy and practice. • The relationships between the individual, the community, the natural environment and the ancestral spirits all play a pivotal role in maintaining health in Madwaleni. Therefore, health is attained when the complete balance between mind, body and soul is achieved through the maintenance of solid relationships between all members of society, including the ancestors and the natural environment. When sickness results because of rifts in these relationships, indigenous medicinal plants must be administered to treat the illness and to regain the normal state of health.


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Page publiée le 1er juin 2020, mise à jour le 21 septembre 2020