World Cultures Lesson 22:
South Africa
Rituals and the Zulu Isangoma

One of the most important facilitators of ritual in Zulu culture is the Isangoma. An Isangoma is a traditional Zulu healer. An Isangoma’s job is to treat individual illnesses and maintain the health of the community. Many Zulu believe that the Isangoma receives messages from spirits and can use this communication to aid others.

Almost all Izangoma are women. Some of the methods used by the Isangoma in aiding the community are ritual performances such as dancing, praying, and singing. The Zulu people depend upon the Isangoma to maintain harmony within the community. Even though there are modern hospitals and clinics, the Isangoma is still very highly valued in Zulu society.