Tongues are wagging that President Cyril Ramaphosa shunned ancient African healing knowledge, African medicine and traditional healers when he addressed the nation on the escalation of measures to combat the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic – one of the leading voices on the matter is a Sangoma based in northern Johannesburg.
In a letter published by City Press (Ramaphosa’s Failure To Acknowledge Role of Sangomas in Covid-19 Fight), he alleged that President Ramaphosa sent out a statement mourning the passing of iSanusi Mkhulu Credo Mutwa and believes that was either hypocrisy or ignorance? And that if it’s neither of both, the it must be comedy of the highest order.
Also, a South African pastor with a large church in East London anonymously rubbished the Sangoma’s position claiming that ancestral worship, healing and treatments are essentially dark and demonic.
“We must be honest. The President knows that Sangomas can’t heal coronavirus. He can’t afford to toy with people’s lives. If they can heal it, let them do it and let’s see. The President didn’t consult the church directly also because spiritual matters are delicate except it is provable and verifiable beyond any iota of doubts”.
This pastor says Covid-19 could be healed spiritually but according to the Christian faith, only God can heals and he does it discretionally. “We can’t force God to heal and we can’t falsely lay claim to healing in such a time as this – that will be wickedness. Our God has raised the dead and heal all manners of disease before and we shall continue to pray and seek his face on this matter”.
However, the traditional healing advocate depressingly pointed out that Western medicine and solutions were prioritised in all efforts to combat coronavirus in South Africa, quipping indirectly that traditional medicine and African Knowledge Systems (AKS) be invalidated if they are not truly useful, especially at a critical time like this?
According to him, perhaps the government is putting the lives of millions of South Africans who seek help from traditional healers at risk, ‘knowing’ they (Sangomas and African philosophers) are not effective and useful?
He reminded us that the President remembered to consider those who wanted to jog with their dogs but not patients who consult healers about their health issues. Perhaps this further validates that President Ramaphosa is elitist and capitalist – coronavirus pandemic only reveal the depth of his commercialistic tendencies.
Or did he not know that some healers need to frequent rivers, beaches, waterfalls and forests to stay healthy?
According to the World Health Organisation, traditional medicine is the first source of healthcare for about 80% of the people in developing countries but it has been gravely ignored at a critical time like this.
Evidently, it is not wrong to think global but acting local is imperative as well.
“And let me hasten to dispute the popular narrative that only rural and poor people are our patients – that’s utterly incorrect as I practise in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg. To those worthy of the president’s ear, may you pose these questions to him on my behalf please. Who advises him? Who writes his speeches?”.
The wise yet provocative assertions continue: “It’s difficult to fathom that any African employed in the highest office in the land could be so narrow-minded on spiritual matters to the point of presenting to the public a president who is blatantly disrespectful to his own forefathers.
Indeed, like millions in our country, as uhlanya and philosopher – wrongfully referred to as isangoma – I “understood the gravity of the situation” that warranted the total lockdown that began at midnight on Thursday to curb the spread of the virus in the country”.
Concerns were seriously raised why the President never consulted nor acknowledged traditional healers and philosophers on this pertinent issue.
The healer who voiced his concerns unequivocally says the message about washing of hands regularly with water is a norm in Africa from time immemorial including the use water from waterfalls and oceans.
He referenced a book: Umsamo: Amathongo Nemithetho Elishumi ka Nkulunkulu, Dr Velaphi “VVO” Mkhize where the author states that the water spirit called noMhoyi is the most important of them all, adding that: “There was no virus when our ancestors decided that everyone who came to consult with them needed to wash their hands before they could be addressed”.
He clarified further that before a patient receives any form of treatment, the first step is steaming (ukugquma/ukufutha) to eliminate viruses and cleanse the body, then he asked again: “Is steaming not one of the methods recommended to prevent Covid-19 because the heat kills the virus?”
He indicate that Western treatments have failed him many times even when he was treated by well-educated and experienced surgeons because his problem had ancestral root that Western medicine could not cure.
His letter to the Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize (apparently on this matter) was not replied, evidently because his narrative is not valued.
He reiterated his deep concern to the President thus: “BUT SIR, BY CHOOSING NOT TO CONSULT WITH HEALERS, THEREBY JUSTIFYING NOT MENTIONING THEM IN YOUR ADDRESS AMONG THOSE WHO PROVIDE ESSENTIAL HEALTH SERVICES, YOU HAVE OPENED THE DOOR FOR US TO BE TREATED LIKE THE SCUM OF THE EARTH” and added that: “From this week until the end of the national lockdown next month, how many patients are going to suffer the same fate or die because Ramaphosa has chosen Western medicine only to treat their ailments?
Then he added another forceful twist foraging into witchcraft: “Forgive me for asking: Why is the Suppression of Witchcraft Act of 1957 yet to be scrapped 26 years into democracy? Does this mean the ANC government still regards traditional healers as subhumans?
Traditional Health Practitioner’s Sector (THP) had also released a statement in response to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s lock down announcement, expressing concerns around traditional healers not getting a seat at the table in discussing ways to combat this disease.
The National Sector Leader Solly Nduku said: “It is regrettable that our sector has not been engaged and even given clarity on protocols affecting their practice and rights of patients in accessing our services that include but not are not limited to operating of our herbal shops and pharmacies.”