Traditional healers are still a part of everyday life in Zimbabwe. They are a much respected component of society and are regulated by the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association (ZINATHA). Controversy does exist because some healers claim to cure HIV infections. Zimbaweans accept healing from both Western practitioners and traditional healers.
This woman went into a transformative state after sniffing powdered tobacco and the audience (PCVs and trainers) also had to inhale the snuff (or mimick the action by throwing a pinch over one’s shoulder). She did not cure anyone in our group but did predict the future of one or two of the language trainers by channeling her grandfather’s spirit. Her voice changed as she spoke in Shona, which was translated and summarized for our benefit.
One seemingly incongruous picture on her wall was of the blue-eyed, long-haired Jesus. Just as Western medicine is accepted and practiced in conjuction with traditional healing, so Christianity is practiced side-by-side with traditional religion. Black is the usual color for most traditional healers.
Submitted by Christine Cwik, RPCV Zimbabwe, 1992-1994