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A Nguni word referring to a diviner. Though they may be related, there is an essential difference between a Sangoma, who is a diviner, and an Inyanga who is a herbalist and traditional healer.

Sangoma usually refers to someone with psychic and prophetic powers, a practitioner of ceremonial magic, utilizing a system of occult techniques for healing and spiritual development in an individual and/or community, and to promote social cohesion. In this sense the witch doctor was a revered, powerful and influential member of society, in the same way a court magician or shaman may have been in other cultures.

Inyanga on the other hand, refers to a herbalist and traditional African healer, who may or may not also have psychic and prophetic powers.

Both are referred to as a Witch doctors in colonial writings and culture (and not always in a positive sense in the more sensational writing).

See also Shaman and Magician.


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