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Healing among the Zulu center around uMvelinqangi (God), the amadlozi (ancestors), nature and a person’s connection to these spiritual forces in a deep and profound manner. Edwards (1987) suggests that there are three broad overlapping categories of traditional healers in South Afrika i.e. The inyanga is usually a male who has gone through a period of training with an accomplished inyanga for at least one year.
When amamkhubalo (herbal medicines) are used for umsenbezi (ritual), color classification of the medicine and time of day and season of administration become significant. The colors of the medicines are imithi emnyama (black medicine), imithi ebomvu (red medicine) and imithi emhlophe (white medicine). Here we see that the Zulu operate in harmony with nature and the universe, and that various aspects of color contain the power for healing.
It is believed that the full healing power is manifested at specific universe time periods and one must approach that herb at the proper time that uMvelinqangi has bestowed upon it with its full power. Insizi – Powdered herbs, roots or animal medicine that is always used as a black medicine to pull out an illness.


Intelezi – A liquid medicine used as a white medicine to render free from imperfections often after sickness is taken out with a red or black medicine. To further illustrate this harmonious relationship with nature, there are certain herbs that are extracted only in the morning, day, evening or night. This healer is usually a woman who shares knowledge of medicine with the inyanga (herb doctor). The traditional healer has always been a person of great respect in the community, a medium with the amadlozi (ancestors) and uMvelinqangi (the first Creator). A person is chosen by the spiritual realm to be a sangoma after an ukuthwasa (life transforming experience).
After the cause of an illness has been determined, then the sangoma refers the person to medical treatment from another practitioner. Both the inyanga and isangoma are part of a public imisebenzi (ritual) and the Nomkhubulwane ceremony for girls. The umthandazi has the ability to prophesize, heal and divine using prayer, holy water, baths, enemas and steaming baths.
Traditional healers connect with the presence of uMvelinqangi (the First Creator) that exist within the universe and eradiate the expression of that which operates in opposition to uMvelinqangi.


Nomkhubulwane is the first princess and the daughter of uNunkulunkulu (the Great Grandfather). The Nomkhubulwane ceremony is a rites of passage ceremony that functions as a reintroduction in the Zulu community to assist with addressing the AIDS crisis that is occurring in South Afrika. The traditional healers not only inform the girls of their purpose in life, they also help the girl know how to maintain good health. Since there is a high premium placed on being a virgin, the healers imisebenzi (ritual) serves to influence and reduce the rate of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) while providing insight into food selection, preparation, and consumption. The third traditional healer has evolved recently with the influx of people moving from the rural to urban areas.



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