Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Monday, 3 December 2012

No shortage of people who believe in magic

Mganga is the name of the Tanzanian medicine man, or woman in some cases, and like other Tanzanians, many members of the Zanaki ethnic group who reside around Butiama regularly consult a mganga.

To believers the mganga has a remedy to most problems affecting humans, from health issues to the resolution of conflicts arising out of social relations. Some even claim to possess potions that can bring instant riches to their clients.

In the book Bantu Customs in Mainland Tanzania author P. van Pelt writes:
When we speak about religious beliefs, we do not only speak about a Bantu's understanding of Being or of a Supreme Being and his relationship and conduct towards this Being or Supreme Being. We speak also about his understanding of other non-human beings and his consequent relationship with and conduct towards these other beings. As a matter of fact the Bantu is very much occupied with those other beings. The question is then which are the consequences for his relationships with human beings and his synthetic understanding of the universe. These other beings exist in nature, that means they are not transcendental. They are spirits or things having forces which surpass in power people who are bodily living and these forces can act on living persons, animals and things. But it happens also that specially gifted people by themselves or with the assistance of spirits can command these forces.

This belief gives rise to magical practices.
The mganga falls within this class of "gifted" people.
A medicine woman preparing her tools of trade before consultation with a patient.
In a consultation I witnessed, the mganga began the healing process by summoning the spirits of her ancestors through incantations, the spirits having provided indications of the problem that was only fleetingly hinted by the patient.

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