Why are People Embarrassed and Afraid?

Why are people embarrassed about consulting Traditional Health Practitioners (THs)? If we look at the historical perspective, when Africa was colonised, little was known about THs. They were labeled – witchdoctors, devil worshippers and heathens – just as herbalists and healers in all parts of the globe were at that time.

The major religions at the time could not see that Healers were given a gift from God to heal. They were given the gift of healing the body with herbs and healing the spirit with pray and intervention through the spirit world.

Today, many THs are active members in major religions, mainly Christian religions. THs recognise that Traditional Healing and Traditional Medicine go hand in hand with Christian and other religious beliefs.

Many people confuse the fact that in Traditional Spirituality we pray to our ancestors, believing this equates Traditional believers with non-Christian beliefs. In fact, praying to our ancestors is like praying to saints, angels and others who have passed on – they are a step closer to God and can act as an intermediary to God. That is not to say we still can’t and don’t pray directly to God. There’s a difference between praying to the ancestors and worshipping them. Traditional Religion does not worship the ancestors but uses them as a medium of prayer to pray to God.

People still confuse witchcraft – the abuse of the gifts God has given to cause harm, or influence another’s life and energies, to their own benefit – with THs. THs are Healers. A true Healer cannot take part in any action that can harm or negatively influence another person.

So many people would like to access a TH to treat their illnesses but they fear going to a TH because of what others may think of them. Then there are those who visit THs late at night so nobody knows they have consulted a TH. They get their treatment and go on with their lives. These people know Traditional Medicine (TM) works but they are so worried what others may think. They do not promote the benefits of TM.

If someone goes to a Western doctor to treat an ailment / illness and after 3 lots of treatment there’s no sign of improvement. Then they go to a TH and they see great improvement after the 1st treatment and can see that TM works. Why is it that these people do not share the good news of the TM’s benefits with their friends and community? If the person were to be given an effective treatment by a Western doctor, or even by a Naturopath (Western Traditional Herbalist), they would share the good news and benefits with others.

Why are people ashamed of acknowledging their own TMs yet they are happy to use western medicine and even western Natural Therapies? What is the difference between a Nyanga (Traditional Herbalist) and a Naturopath?

Now is the time for us to stand up and be proud of our TMs. If we do not acknowledge TMs and their benefits they will be taken by others and bottled and sold at a higher price so the average person cannot afford them.

Some western doctors work closely with THs. They supply their patients with herbal treatments their local TH makes for them. This is great to see the THs and western doctors working together. But why is it that the patients would prefer to buy the herbs from the doctor at a higher cost, even though they don’t have much money, rather than to consult the TH directly and buy the herbs at a lower cost? Why are they so embarrassed to see the TH? What are they afraid of…?

Do you consult THs? Do you inform those around you about what the true TH really does? Do you spread the benefits of Traditional African Medicine so your whole community can also benefit?

Do not confuse a person who uses the name ‘TH’ and just makes money selling ‘love muti’, ‘good luck muti’ and the like for a true TH.

If you want to know if the person you wish to consult is a true TH you need to look at the following:

  • Look at their track record in the community – are they known to community leaders; who can recommend them?
  • Are they accredited with a TH organisation?
  • Are they able to refer you to other THs in your area?
  • Ensure they have attended workshops on basic Primary Health Care
  • They need to be knowledgeable about current issues pertaining to health
  • If you need a specialist you need to ensure the TH is a specialist, not a general practitioner (GP). What evidence do they have of their expertise – patients who can recommend them etc.

Now is the time that THs also need to mobilise and inform the general public who THs are, what THs do and the benefits of TH services and TMs.

TM is our medicine given by God, with little, if any side effects. THs are the Custodians of the knowledge. We need to give THs the respect they deserve!