Talk:Traditional healers of South Africa

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Former good article nominee Traditional healers of South Africa was a good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
August 3, 2012 Good article nominee Not listed
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Structure & flow of the article - General versus Specifics[edit]

A lot of new information has been put into this article in the last couple of months. Unfortunately, the flow of the article has become more difficult to read and a number of inaccuracies have crept into the article. I plan to restructure the article while trying to keep as much of the new information as possible and clarify where a number of inaccuracies have crept into the article. A number of points that I intend to clear/clarify

  1. When dealing with the subject of sangomas across Southern Africa, it must be remembered that certain practises/beliefs in one area does not mean a general practice across all sangoma groups across all cultures - example of this is the current line in cosmology : "Often the crab, nokala, is invoked as a mediator between the human world and the world of spirits. The crab is given this power because of its ability to move between the world of the land and the sea" - While this is a good example of the type of beliefs that some sangomas can hold, it does not represent the general sangoma population as a whole and could be used as an example, but not as a blanket statement.
  2. The opening summary paragraphs talk a lot about the origin/meaning of the word sangoma without providing a summary of what a sangoma is/does/believes - I suggest that the original paragraphs are reintroduced which provide a general summary of who and what sangomas are. The meaning, language and derivatives of the word should go into a seperate section.

I propose that the article be broken down into the following main areas :

  • Beliefs and Background - General discussion around ancestors, muti, witchcraft etc.
  • Divination & Healing Practises - Throwing the bones/diagnosis, uses of mutis (bath, vomiting, steaming, cuttings etc.), snuff & prayer, animal sacrifice etc. Also can be used to outline specific practises pertaining to certain cultures - eg Femba (sniffing) used to extract evil spirits/animal entities from a patient (anti-sorcery practise)
  • Thwasa and Initiation - Calling/sickness, thwasa and initiation
  • Drumming & Ancestral dancing - Drumming, ancestral songs (call & response), ancestral dances / celebration
  • White Sangomas - I will create a new topic to discuss the section white sangomas
  • Other sections - Controversy, Conflict with Western Medicine, Legal Status etc.

I will also create a seperate topic to discuss the inaccuracies, misinterpretations and generalisations that have crept into the article.

My field of expertise is traditional practises mainly around the Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and surrounding areas, especially as to how the practises have evolved in township life. I will also be adding a couple of pictures to emphasise certain practises and points. Most of my contributions/experience is experiential, however I will attempt to reference as much as I can.

Mycelium101 (talk) 02:14, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

Inaccuracies, misinterpretations and Generalisations[edit]

This section is designed to discuss inaccuracies and generalisations within the article. The article should refrain of making sweeping statements that come across as a common or general practice/belief if it is not know whether the practice/reference is common or specific to a certain group/sangoma. Examples of general/common practices and beliefs are ancestors, the use of snuff, muti, throwing the bones, possession, animal sacrifice (chicken, goat, cow) etc. Examples of specific practices is stating that a specific plant is used to heal a specific ailment, specific beliefs around the uses of animals/animal parts.

Below are some examples of inacurracies within the article that I wish to discuss. Please feel free to add your contribution or clarify below my comments :

Section Ngoma
"Ngoma is a healing practice that can be compared to western psycho-analysis and group therapy"

This is a narrow component of the practice and does not encompass the entire practice. The practice includes diagnosis, baptisms, death rituals, healing physical ailments, spritiual advisor, social work, finding lost objects etc.
The original article explained it clearer : ie
"Sangomas have many different social and political roles in the community: divination, healing, directing rituals, finding lost cattle, protecting warriors, counteracting witches, and narrating the history, cosmology, and myths of their tradition. They are highly revered and respected in their society, where illness is thought to be caused by witchcraft, pollution (contact with impure objects or occurrences) or by the ancestors themselves, either malevolently, or through neglect if they are not respected, or to show an individual her calling to be a Sangoma. For harmony between the living and the dead, vital for a trouble-free life, the ancestors must be shown respect through ritual and animal sacrifice." Mycelium101 (talk) 04:13, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

"The first step is to purify the patient in both body and mind. This may be done with white medicine that is plant or chalk based, or it may be a process of bathing"

In my experience, the first step is usually throwing the bones in order to diagnose the problem and then to purify the patient if required. A white medicine (too specific) is not necessarily used, however I do agree that the cleansing usually starts with a bath with herbs. Mycelium101 (talk) 03:11, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

"The spirit speaks through the patient to tell the Sangoma what what sort of spirit they are and how many are present. If the patient has trouble speaking they may be given medicine to help them express their problem. Drumming is then played and the patient sings the song of the spirits which actively inform the healer of the proper treatment. The Sangoma may ask for clarification from the patient."

I believe this is inaccurate. The practise of ancestral posession / speaking from the ancestors is the strict domain of the sangoma/healer and not the patient. I have never heard of the patient talking through the ancestors unless the patient is a sangoma themselves (which I have seen numerous times). The job of the sangoma is to divine the problem of the patient and not the other way round. This is how the patient develops a trust for that sangoma, if the sangoma can successfully 'see' the patients problems without the patient telling them first.Mycelium101 (talk) 03:11, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

Section Sangoma
"They wear beads around the neck to represent the helping spirits. When they are fully trained they will wear full bracelets and anklets that show their status within the Sangoma order [9]. The beads also produce sound during dance that adds to the rhythm of the drum. They wear white beads in their hair as well."

Mostly thwasas wear beaded bracelets and anklets. This is not specific only to fully trained sangomas. They can be taken off once initiation is complete (although most leave some on), and it is my experience that they do not represent any form of status or hierarchy. (Most of the elderly sangomas I have met do not wear any type of identification whatsoever) The beads are personal between the sangoma and ancestor or can be used to represent their schooling and/or lineage. There are no hard and fast rules regarding the meaning of the beads. In most cases, a sangoma can instantly tell the level of experience, dedication and discipline of another sangoma simply within the greeting between 2 sangomas. The beads also do not produce sounds during dance - those are different specific ankle bands made of seeds or bottle tops. Mycelium101 (talk) 03:11, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

Section Divination and Diagnosis
"To determine if a patient's problem is spirit based the patient must visit a diviner. Some Sangoma act as diviners but this is generally a practice that is outside of the structure of the Sangoma order. In Swaziland, the diviner is called a [[[Takoza]]. She is dressed in red ocher colored clothing and had red ocher coated dread locks, a distinctly different appearance than the sangoma."

I would suggest mostly the opposite. In current South Africa, most sangomas divine by throwing the bones and is definitely a practice that is well within the structure of the Sangoma order. The word Thokoza (Takoza) is used to greet/agree with a Sangoma (especially when in ancestor posession) not to define a type of diviner. The red ocher coloured clothing and red ocher dread locks is used in specific stages of thwasa in certain traditions. Mycelium101 (talk) 04:13, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Traditional healers of South Africa/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Viriditas (talk · contribs) 00:14, 29 July 2012 (UTC)


  • Category:Zulu words and phrases
    • This appears to be leftover from when the article was named Sangoma. Is it OK if I move the category to the redirect? Viriditas (talk) 21:56, 13 August 2012 (UTC)
      • Moved.[1] The word "sangoma" is now properly categorized as a Zulu word instead of "Traditional healers of South Africa". Viriditas (talk) 22:00, 13 August 2012 (UTC)

Naming conventions[edit]

  • Sangoma or sangoma. You've got both in the article. Viriditas (talk) 02:22, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
sangoma - it's a (bad) habit of mine to capitilise nouns - I will fix on next edit Mycelium101 (talk) 10:31, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Thwasa or thwasa? Viriditas (talk) 22:25, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Capitalize "Western-trained" and "Western medicine". Don't capitalize " western Bantu migration". Viriditas (talk) 22:21, 3 August 2012 (UTC)


  • Your blockquotes should only contain quotation marks if the original quotes contain quotation marks. As far as I can tell from the material you are using, they do not, so they should be removed. Viriditas (talk) 10:57, 4 August 2012 (UTC)


  • For the Serer people's sacred place of worship, see The Point of Sangomar
    • I'm not sure why this is here or if it should be here. Can you explain it? Viriditas (talk) 02:52, 11 August 2012 (UTC)
The only reason that I could see that it has been put here is if people misspelt Sangomar as Sangoma and vica versa, else it has nothing to do with Sangomas or Southern African traditional healers except that it looks like a sacred place for the West African Serer religion. I notice that there is a hatnote pointing to Sangoma's on that page too, however, apart from the similar spelling, they have little else in common. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mycelium101 (talkcontribs) 04:00, 11 August 2012 (UTC)
So it is a typo hatnote then? As of 2011, these were discouraged, however if it is necessary, we use {{Distinguish}} or a form of {{Redirect-distinguish}}. In other words, "Sangoma redirects here. It is not to be confused with Sangomar" or something like that. Viriditas (talk) 21:52, 13 August 2012 (UTC)
Added Redirect-distinguish, however, I do not think it is needed. Viriditas (talk) 03:02, 14 August 2012 (UTC)
Thanks - I don't think it's needed either, however, I am unsure of the etiquette of removing it. Do we need to notify The Point of Sangomar?
No, but we probably should create a redirect for sangomar. Viriditas (talk) 11:36, 14 August 2012 (UTC)
I created a redirect for sangomar and removed the redirect from this page Mycelium101 (talk) 03:48, 15 August 2012 (UTC)


  • I'm not sure I understand the current structure of the lead. Right now we have separate paragraphs on types, roles, etiology, ritual, medicine, numbers, differences, contemporary practice, and terminology. Many of these paragraphs can be merged together, for example, medicine and etiology; types, terminology, and differences; roles and contemporary practice, etc. This is just an example. The introductory paragraph should summarize the topic, with additional paragraphs drawing the reader in to the secondary topics. Viriditas (talk) 20:31, 29 July 2012 (UTC)

Work in progress

Traditional healers of South Africa are shamans and practitioners of traditional African medicine in Southern Africa. They fulfill different social and political roles in the community, including divination, healing physical, emotional and spiritual illnesses, directing rituals such as birth or death rituals, finding lost cattle, protecting warriors, counteracting witches, and narrating the history, cosmology, and myths of their tradition. There are generally two main types of traditional healers in South Africa within the Nguni societies of Southern Africa cultures: the Diviner, commonly known as a Sangoma, and the Herbalist, commonly known as an Inyanga. They are highly revered and respected in their society, where illness is thought to be caused by witchcraft,[1] pollution (contact with impure objects or occurrences) or by the ancestors themselves,[2] either malevolently, or through neglect if they are not respected, or to show an individual her calling to become a sangoma (thwasa).[3] Estimates of the number of indigenous traditional healers in South Africa range up to 200,000,[4] compared to 25,000 western trained doctors[5] and are consulted by approximately 60% of the South African population, usually in conjunction with modern biomedical services.[4]
For harmony between the living and the dead, vital for a trouble-free life, the ancestors must be shown respect through ritual and animal sacrifice.[6] Traditional healers work in a sacred healing hut or Ndumba, where they believe their ancestors reside. They have specific coloured cloths to wear to please each ancestor, and sometimes wear the gallbladder of the goat sacrificed at their graduation ceremony in their hair. They summon the ancestors by either burning sacred plants (e.g. Imphepho), dancing, chanting, channelling or playing drums. Traditional healers will often give their patients Muti, medications of plant, animal and sand origin imbued with spiritual significance, often with powerful symbolism - e.g. lion fat is given to promote courage in the youngsters. There are medicines for everything from physical and mental illness, social disharmony and spiritual difficulties to potions for protection, love and luck.
Although the word sangoma is a Zulu term that is colloquially used to commonlly describe all types of Southern African traditional healers,[5][7] there are differences between practices: an inyanga is concerned mainly with medicines made from plants and animals, while a sangoma relies primarily on divination for healing purposes and might also be considered a type of fortune teller. In modern times however, due to a number of factors such as urbanisation, colonialism, apartheid, cross-cultural mixing etc.[8] the distinction has become increasingly blurred and traditional healers tend to practice both arts. [4][7][9] Traditional healers can interchange these roles by fulfilling the role of doctor by diagnosing common illnesses, selling and dispensing remedies for medical complaints, while also divining the cause and providing solutions to spiritually or socially centred complaints.[10] Each culture has their own terminology for their traditional healers, and Xhosa traditional healers are known as ixwele or amaquira in their own language.[4] Ngaka and selaoli are the terms in Northern Sotho and Southern Sotho respectively, while among the Venda and Tsonga people they are called mungome.[5] The Tsonga people also refer to their healers as n'anga.[11]
Fair enough - I see what you mean. I will merge the paragraphs into a more concise and flowing summary Mycelium101 (talk) 00:27, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Although there is nothing wrong with having sources in the lead section, by the time you reach GA level, you should have the most important information sourced in the body so that the lead is, for the most part, a summary of what is already sourced so that in many cases, you don't need sources in the lead except for controversial statements and quotations. Viriditas (talk) 07:51, 4 August 2012 (UTC)
  • I removed "either malevolently, or through neglect if they are not respected, or to show an individual her calling to become a sangoma (thwasa).[12]" because it doesn't make sense. Feel free to add it back in if you can make it work, but remember, the lead should summarize not go into detail. That sentence was also much too long, so split it up if needed. Viriditas (talk) 10:34, 16 August 2012 (UTC)
Okay. I just added the mention of neglect of the ancestors, and it looks fine now. I also reinserted the terminology regarding the different cultures. Culturally in South Africa, it's very important to reflect these terms and it needs to be mentioned very early on in the article (We don't have 14 official languages for nothing). I removed some of the sentences from the lead (eg nbumba) and put them in the belief section. The other details are not that relevant to the lead or article. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mycelium101 (talkcontribs) 12:54, 16 August 2012 (UTC)

Beliefs and tradition[edit]

  • First two paragraphs are unsourced, as are the last two sentences in the section. The general rule is at least one reference per paragraph at the minimum. Viriditas (talk) 07:55, 4 August 2012 (UTC)
Done Mycelium101 (talk) 08:45, 14 August 2012 (UTC)
  • The philosophy is based on a belief in ancestral spirits (called amadlozi in Zulu. They perform a holistic and symbolic form of healing, embedded in the beliefs of their culture that ancestors in the afterlife guide and protect the living.
    • What does "they" refer to here? The sangomas or the spirits? It isn't clear. Viriditas (talk) 10:47, 14 August 2012 (UTC)
It is the sangoma that perform the holistic and symbolic form of healing etc. I have updated to reflect that. Mycelium101 (talk) 03:50, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
When you say "The philosophy is based on a belief in ancestral spirits", what are you referring to? The philosophy of the sangoma, the philosophy of ngoma, or the philosophy of traditional African medicine? Viriditas (talk) 10:49, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Sangomas are able to access advice and guidance from the ancestors for their patients in a number of ways
    • Shouldn't this say "Sangomas believe they can access advice and guidance..." We're talking about their beliefs, not asserting that their belief is "true". Viriditas (talk) 10:47, 14 August 2012 (UTC)
I have no issue with that - I have updated Mycelium101 (talk) 03:50, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
  • The sangoma performs a holistic and symbolic form of healing, embedded in the beliefs of their culture that the ancestors in the afterlife guide and protect the living.
    • Could you please reword this? I'm not sure what that comma is doing there, and it should probably be two sentences. "Embedded in the beliefs of their culture is the idea that the ancestors in the afterlife guide and protect the living", or something like that. You're missing something in the current version. Viriditas (talk) 10:52, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
I have reworded the 1st 2 sentences of the 1st paragraph to read as follows : A sangoma is a practitioner of ngoma,a philosophy based on a belief in ancestral spirits (called amadlozi in Zulu) and the practice of traditional African medicine. By drawing on the embedded beliefs of the Nguni culture that the ancestors in the afterlife guide and protect the living, the sangoma performs a holistic and symbolic form of healing. Mycelium101 (talk) 04:08, 16 August 2012 (UTC)
Regarding the prose, some wording has been written specifically vague to reflect the common practices and how things tend to be believed or practiced. Oral traditions don't have a fixed structure and are very much open to cultural and geographic interpretation. Fixed statements such as 'The Nguni believe that ancestors in the afterlife guide and protect the living' should be avoided as the Nguni people can also be christian, non practising etc. This is why we can talk about the Nguni traditional culture beliefs without suggesting that all Nguni people follow those beliefs. Mycelium101 (talk) 13:04, 16 August 2012 (UTC)
That's a problem. We don't write vague prose based on editorial understanding. You have to be able to communicate the nuances to the reader with explicit statements. Viriditas (talk) 02:02, 17 August 2012 (UTC)
I think the current version of the article strikes an excellent balance between being factually correct and well referenced while still accurately describing the traditional practices for such a subjective and fluid topic. Thanks to your help, it is much more structured, well written and aligned to the standards of wikipedia. I can't see much more to improve from my perspective and I am very satisfied with the quality of the current article, whether it makes GA or not. I suggest a final review and let us allow the chips lie where they fall, so to speak. I am deeply grateful for the time and effort you have spent on this article both in reviewing and assisting improving the quality. Mycelium101 (talk) 06:24, 17 August 2012 (UTC)
I appreciate your opinion and expertise, but we don't purposefully add vague prose to any encyclopedia article on Wikipedia. I am happy that you are satisfied, but we need to satisfy the GA criteria, not our likes and dislikes. Viriditas (talk) 09:29, 17 August 2012 (UTC)

Drumming and ancestral dancing[edit]

  • Please source this section. Viriditas (talk) 22:13, 13 August 2012 (UTC)
Done. Almost the entire section can all be sourced from a single page from Africa in my Bones, however I included the reference at the end of the section, instead of for each paragraph. Is this correct? Mycelium101 (talk) 08:46, 14 August 2012 (UTC)
If you are referring to the placement of Cumes 2004, then yes, that's fine. If you are talking about something else, let me know. Viriditas (talk) 04:20, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
Yes I was referring to the placement of Cumes 2004. All good. Mycelium101 (talk) 09:05, 15 August 2012 (UTC)

Divination, diagnosis and healing practices[edit]

  • Please indicate that the first paragraph is directly sourced. Viriditas (talk) 22:18, 13 August 2012 (UTC)
Done and expanded. Mycelium101 (talk) 08:47, 14 August 2012 (UTC)
  • The goal in healing...
    • Whose goal? Be specific and remember, every section should stand on its own as a self-contained summary. Don't assume the reader will remember what you said in a previous section. Viriditas (talk) 05:51, 17 August 2012 (UTC)
  • One Swaziland family claimed that they found their lost daughter, whom they believed to be kidnapped, following the advice of a sangoma.
    • This sounds vaguely promotional and could be problematic. You should probably provide the exact page number and a quote of the context in a footnote. Normally, I would delete these types of claims on sight as they are not encyclopedic without further context. Viriditas (talk) 10:42, 17 August 2012 (UTC)
I'm not in favour of these type of once-off examples either. I didn't write those notes (or that entire paragraph) and don't have access to the references, so I can't verify or rewrite it. I am happy to have that sentence removed. I am not in favour of the wording of "tend to complain" either however I haven't changed it as I cannot verify the reference to see whether that wording was used in the reference.Mycelium101 (talk) 10:58, 17 August 2012 (UTC)
  • By contrast, white patients tend to complain of problems that cannot be solved by Western medicine, like concern about money, help getting a promotion, or physical disease like high blood pressure and schizophrenia that are not easily managed by Western doctors
    • The first part is correct, however, the second part "like high blood pressure and schizophrenia that are not easily managed by Western doctors" will need an exact quote or context from the source in a footnote as it is bordering on an extraordinary claim. Western doctors seem to manage high blood pressure and schizophrenia, as far as I know. This passage suggests that an effort is being made above and beyond the sources to pit the merits of traditional healers over Western medicine. The implicit but unstated claim here is that traditional healers can manage blood pressure and mental illness better than Western medicine, and I doubt the source says that. I'm very tempted to delete the entire paragraph. Viriditas (talk) 10:50, 17 August 2012 (UTC)
As I just mentioned above, I haven't been able to rewrite this as I don't have access to that reference and so I don't know what the original wording said. (Personally, I don't believe there would be a difference between why white or black people go to a sangoma) I could suggest:
Patients will see a sangoma for a number of broad reasons. Because the healing is not only physical but also social, most problems could be determined to be twasa, spirit cause, and treated by a sangoma. Patients tend to complain of vague pains, anxieties, and harm to their reputation presumed to be the result of sorcery. Others have illnesses that come from breaking social taboos, such as sleeping with a married woman, and they wish to remove the stigma. Young people also consult the sangoma to learn ways to gain good fortune for their future careers and families.<Janzen reference here>? Mycelium101 (talk) 11:10, 17 August 2012 (UTC)

Medicines and muti[edit]

  • In South African English and Afrikaans the word muti is sometimes also used as a slang term for medicine in general.
    • That's the kind of statement that requires a ref. Viriditas (talk) 11:44, 14 August 2012 (UTC)
See checklist comments. This type of reference would be in a travel guide for tourists on common SA slang. I have found some pages on the web that might suffice. Let me know if it doesn't. Mycelium101 (talk) 03:52, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
Wouldn't this be better placed as a footnote instead of in the body of the article? Viriditas (talk) 04:21, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
I am unsure on what you mean. Can you please explain or provide an example? Mycelium101 (talk) 09:04, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
See WP:EXPLNOTE. Not a big deal, just my opinion. Feel free to ignore it. Viriditas (talk) 10:54, 15 August 2012 (UTC)

Relationship with western medicine[edit]

  • Zulu children may have up to three enemas a week.
    • Deleted unsourced statement. Viriditas (talk) 01:17, 29 July 2012 (UTC)
Thank you - I wanted to delete it previously as I didn't believe this is correct, but I wanted to give the person that wrote it an opportunity to source it Mycelium101 (talk) 00:53, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
  • First paragraph in this section is completely unsourced. There should be at least one reference per paragraph if needed, and I think it is needed. (HIV claims, etc.) Viriditas (talk) 01:38, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
Completely agree - as a lot of research has been done in this area, I see no problem in being able to find references to these points. I will dig some up and include them.Mycelium101 (talk) 10:08, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Western-style scientists
Changed western-style scientists to botanists and pharmaceutical scientist Mycelium101 (talk) 08:48, 14 August 2012 (UTC)
  • I've deleted the recent edits added to this section. They were off-topic and far from neutral. Further, we do not cut and paste large bullet points from sources like that, not to mention that they had little to nothing to do with this specific topic. If they are added back, I will fail this article, tag it with maintenance tags, and raise the issue on additional noticeboards, including the neutrality and COI noticeboards. Sorry to come down hard on you like this, but you crossed a line. Please keep in mind, I have no objection to you taking this material, rewriting it in your own words in a paragraph that represents the relevant topic and paraphrasing it in a neutral manner, but that is not what you did. Viriditas (talk) 09:34, 17 August 2012 (UTC)
I accept that you don't approve of the bullet points, however, please explain how the points made by the World Health Organisation regarding western health practitioners working in conjunction with traditional healers is off-topic, non-neutral or a conflict of interest, especially in a section discussing the Relationship with western medicine? I tried to keep it neutral, showing both the main for and against arguments and kept the COI out of the discussion by purposefully providing the wording of the WHO, not my own words. I am happy to summarise that whole section in a neutral manner as you suggest, however I am surprised that you think it is off-topic and non-neutral. I believe those bullet points (both for and against) represent the crux of the discussions that currently occur between western and traditional healthcare practises in Southern Africa. Mycelium101 (talk) 10:41, 17 August 2012 (UTC)
  • I have rewritten the material in a manner that I believe is neutral, as you suggest which still shows both sides of the debate regarding public health services collaborating with traditional healers. Please let me know whether you still have concerns with the manner in which I have written it. Mycelium101 (talk) 02:52, 18 August 2012 (UTC)
  • There's a lack of communication here, probably because you are a new user who focuses only on one topic. As a result, you probably aren't exposed to our policies and guidelines. You're still writing in a promotional, not an encyclopedic manner, and you're not accurately representing the sources. As you well know, this particular source is not specifically about traditional healers of South Africa, it is about Traditional African medicine. This is the first problem with your edits. When we write articles we must stick to relevant sources about the subject and stay on topic. That's a GA criteria and it isn't negotiable. Essentially, this source is only helpful for page 18 and Table 1 (traditional healers in South Africa) and for talking about AIDS prevention. Second, you appear to be using this source to promote the services of the subject above and beyond the source. I'm going to delete it again. Feel free to work on it here or find a source about traditional healers of South Africa. The problems are too many to keep in the article. You have continued to closely paraphrase cherry picked portions of the source which isn't acceptable on Wikipedia. You have to write it in your own words and it needs to be relevant to the topic. You can't copy and paste like this. You've cited this to p. 10, which is about health policy and traditional medicine in sub-Saharan Africa in general, not South Africa in particular. It's best covered in the article about traditional African medicine. Further, this is a suggestion by WHO which is probably not even significant enough to add to this article. The bottom line is that you aren't able to paraphrase this in your own words nor have you been able to show it is relevant to traditional healers practicing in South Africa, therefore it should not be added back in until those two things are fixed. Start with p. 18, 43+ (Table 1) which has additional information about the relationship between traditional healers in South Africa and Western medicine in the relevant context of HIV/AIDS prevention. I think it is best if you stop adding this material at this time unless you are able to paraphrase it in your own words and write about it in the appropriate context of AIDS prevention, not in the promotion of traditional healing. If you can do those two things, 1) paraphrase appropriately, and 2) write about AIDS prevention by traditional healers in South Africa (and/or their contact with Western medicine in that context) then we won't have a problem with the material or the source. Viriditas (talk) 04:31, 18 August 2012 (UTC)
  • I'm beginning to realise that the technical standards that are demanded here for a GA quality article are starting to conflict with contextual information that is very relevant to South Africa, traditional healers and the complexities that arise within the cultural content of South Africa, Southern Africa and Africa as a whole. The information presented in Collaboration with traditional healers in HIV/AIDS prevention and care in sub-Saharan Africa(p=10-11) and other areas are extremely relevant to the current South African context, especially with western medical doctors/nurses and hospitals that are increasily having to work with traditional healers and patients who see both traditional and western serivces and wish to gain a better understanding of traditional healing practices. I have no agenda, except to provide as much relevant material as possible and merely trying to show both sides of the debate, especially as the reference is online and therefore anyone that wishes to look further can read the original work. Yes, the Collaboration review does deal with Sub Saharan Africa as a whole, but this does not imply that it is not relevant to South Africa. (Mercy Manci, a South African sangoma is explicity thanked for her contributions in the acknowledgements). The inclusion of this information and other information that has been removed are more than sufficient for a c-class or even b-class and I am beginning to think that it would be much more beneficial to wait for future collaboration with other users that are more sensitive/aware of the cultural content of the article before it is re-nominated for a GA quality article. Can you please fail the GA review and once there is further contributions and collboration in the article by other interested contributors, it might be nominated for a GA quality article again? For future reviews and 3rd party interest, the paragraphs that were deemed promotional, irrelevant and off-topic (which is referenced to pg 10-11 of the above link) is :
In 1994, the World Health Organisation (WHO) offered a number of observations and guidelines regarding biomedical health providers collaborating with traditional healers, suggesting that upgrading the traditional healers skills made more sense than training new groups of health workers.
An ongoing public health debate continues regarding investing the efforts required for partnering with traditional healers. Those in favour of collaboration argue that traditional healers provide a client-centred, personalised health-care service that is culturally appropriate and posses many effective treatments and treatment methods. Research has shown that traditional healers abstain from dangerous practices when educated about the risks. Numerous studies have shown that traditional healers demonstrate enthusiasm for collaborating with biomedical services. They are generally well respected health care providers and opinion leaders in their own communities who often have greater credibility than village health care workers, especially in respect to social and spiritual matters. The difficulties and concerns that have been raised argue regarding the lack of institutionalised practices and officially recognised licensing procedures, thus making it difficult to provide standardised training, quality control and monitoring of healers activities. It is claimed that traditional healers generally lack detailed anatomical and physiological knowledge and some may engage in harmful practices or cause delays in referral to biomedical facilities. Despite the limitations outlined above, many public health experts have concluded that it makes sense to attempt collaboration, given the vast health needs in Southern Africa and the numerous practical and realistic advantages of partnering with traditional healers.
Many thanks. Mycelium101 (talk) 06:35, 18 August 2012 (UTC)
The source says nothing about South Africa in that context. You added that yourself to make it relevant. On Wikipedia we call that original research and it isn't permitted at any assessment level, so this has nothing to do with a GA review. Are you familiar with the policy against original research and how we use sources? The source you are using does not support adding that material. Since you think it is relevant, you should be able to find at least one additional source that makes this relevance explicit and clear without engaging in original research. You say that a relevant sangoma is thanked in the acknowledgements, but that avoids addressing the underlying issue. Sources must be used carefully and editors must avoid close paraphrasing. Can you acknowledge the problem at hand? Your request for me to fail this article doesn't make any sense if you acknowledge the problem, because all you need to do is use the source carefully and in context, and write it in your own words. This is very easy to do, and I'm willing to help you, but you need to recognize the problem. In at least three separate instances, you've copy and pasted content directly from the source and you can't do that. You've also copied content that has nothing to do with South Africa, but you added the term "South Africa" to make it seem like it did. You also can't do that. Now, to address your concern: you say that this particular source is "extremely relevant to the current South African context", however, as editors, we can't interpret a source, we have to use it explicitly. When we do, we see that only page 18 of the source in question is relevant to the current South African context, with additional relevant content available in an appendix. You know this, and you've cited the material on page 18 at least once (footnote 62). However, your argument, "western medical doctors/nurses and hospitals that are increasingly having to work with traditional healers and patients who see both traditional and western services and wish to gain a better understanding of traditional healing practices" needs to be supported. And, there is content that does apply to the topic that you can use, and there is a correct way of doing it. For example, the source material about the intersection between Western medicine and traditional healers in South Africa says they found "75% traditional healers believed they could cure AIDS before training, none after." And, another project reported that a "survey found traditional healers had high knowledge about AIDS, were treating symptoms of AIDS; and concluded that, "traditional healers are a force that cannot be ignored in the fight against HIV/AIDS". This is all relevant to the topic of traditional healers of South Africa because this research/project was conducted in South Africa. It's very simple; just use the source correctly, accurately, and in the context it was intended.
However, you cited research and conclusions that did not have anything to do with South Africa specifically, while ignoring the ones that did. For example, you wrote that a "conclusion from a review by UNAIDS in September 2000, regarding collaboration with traditional healers in HIV/AIDS prevention and care, found that modern and traditional belief systems are not incompatible, but complimentary." That material does not seem to have anything to do with South Africa. That's troubling because the material that does have to do with South Africa says "prevention training was successful, but collaboration was was advised to discontinue work with traditional healers’ organizations to avoid political conflicts...more work needs to be done to eliminate the tenuous and strained aspect of the relationship between traditional healers and biomedical practitioners." Make of that what you will, however, we are only concerned with the final assessment on p. 18 which says, "The assessment concluded that the first generation of trained traditional healers selected and trained their peers for the second cycle more effectively than the western-trained trainers of the first generation, as the traditional healers' selection was less politically directed and the training more culturally appropriate." That material is entirely relevant and on topic. However, you added material that was not, specifically material that said "it makes sense to attempt collaboration, given the vast health needs in developing countries". As you are well aware, you changed "in developing countries" to "in Southern Africa"[2] even though p. 11 is not about Southern Africa. You just can't change source material to make it relevant. That's original research. You have to use sources about the topic, such as the source material on page 18, and you have to write it in your own words. It's better you learn this now rather than later. So to conclude, you're essentially asking me to fail this review because you want to be able to do things that aren't allowed regardless of a review. I think you misinterpreted my comment about the GA criteria. While it is certainly strict, failing to meet that criteria doesn't allow you to copy and paste content directly from a source, alter that content so that it becomes original research, or fail to meet the neutrality policy. What I'm going to do is finish copy editing the rest of the article and then ask you to tell me what's wrong or missing in the article. Perhaps I can help you add material in a policy-compliant way that also preserves a GA rating so that it's a win-win all around. Viriditas (talk) 09:08, 18 August 2012 (UTC)
On second thought, the likelihood of more close paraphrasing in the article may be high, as I was only able to find the offending material through spot-checking, so I'm going to fail the article due to this problem and the inability of the nominator to fully understand the problem at this time. Viriditas (talk) 09:29, 18 August 2012 (UTC)
  • In the reference, Campbell, Susan Schuster (1998). Called to Heal. Halfway House: Zebra Press. ISBN 1-86872-240-6.  - The final chapter of the book is called Ancient meets Modern (pg151-164). The entire chapter is interviews with traditional healers and health professionals from southern Africa. The health professionals range from government health officials, clinical psychologists, doctors and hospital nurse workers. These interviews entirely support the above collboration debate from the UNAID report and contextualises it entirely within a Southern African context. It is difficult to reference as they discuss their personal experiences and points of view. The UNAID report summarises these discussion points very suncinctly, however can be referenced by this entire chapter. Quotes such as
  1. ...Years ago it was not acceptable for the medical community to work with the traditional healers. Now we [the medical community] are reaching out to them, we are visiting their clinics.
  2. Most of the rural and even the urban women will pass through a traditional healer before coming to my offices. We, the medical profession, know that we are the back-up health care delivery system.
  3. There are many examples of healers who have developed cooperative relationships with modern doctors. Good traditional healers and doctors both concentrate on the patient. ..... We must continue to improve sanitation, hygiene, living standard, especially in the rural atreas. Through our professional healer organisations and the government departments of health, we are introducing our traditional healers to these standards.
  4. The medical side must come round to working with the healers and the healers must continue referring to the medical side. Today we healers are referring patients for cholera, HIV testing, early childhood vaccination programmes and much, much more. We seek and incorporate what the medical profession has offered us.
  5. When I began my life as a healer, 36 years ago, we were scared to visit the Ministry of Health. We were not allowed to visit our patients in the hospital. Today we are invited to accompany our patients to hospitals. Today I can ask a medical doctor to provide a specific service such as blood work. That doctor will comply and not give additional services but send the patient back to me first with the results....We healers are learning how to cooperate with the medical side. From our own experience and from training, we are learning what we can and cannot cure or what diseases are best treated by help from both sides.
  6. The cooperation between the medical profession and the healers is much better than when I first started practising 14 years ago. More information is available and we have regular opportunities to get together with other healers to discuss treatments and specialities.
  7. Standards of treatment, dosages, hygiene, sanitation and sterilisation at the traditional clinics are needed. There must be some group that guarentees, that oversees, this standard. It is only then that the cooperation between these two systems, traditional and medical, can move in an institutional way. Nhlavana Meseko, the president of THO, has often told me that the healers need good clinics. They are in dire need of a clean, reliable running water supply, good roads, and a decent means of communication. Most of these are not health problems, but basic infrastructure problems. THO is trying to raise the infrastructure standard because they know this will impact the health care standard as well.
I accept that the information requires further paraphrasing and contextualisation, however, I think its unhelpful to not allow editors to contribute whatever information they can, so that future editors can help refine, conextualise, reference, expand and debate the aforementioned information. I would prefer to leave the article at a non GA standard so that people are welcome to add whatever they can, regardless whether it is interpreted as off-topic, own reserach or unreferenced or non-neutral, in good faith that other collaborators can help develop it further, instead of having it immediately deleted. If a GA standard article requires everything to be referenced to a T and split-hairs on every word and nuance, without the flexibility to allow for future growth and development, then my preference is to keep this article at a c-class for now, so that others are welcome to contribute what they are able to, in good faith that it can be evolved into something further. I will further paraphrase the UNAID review so that it is not deemed plagarism and the quotes outlined above support a lot of what is said exceptionally well within a Southern African context. (The sections that cannot be referenced from the above chapter (like being a holistic approach etc.) can easily be referenced from other details that are in this article.) Once again, thnks for your contributions and your assistance for helping clean up the structure and prose of this article and getting it to this level. It is appreciated. Mycelium101 (talk) 05:12, 19 August 2012 (UTC)

Merged mutiple references[edit]

  • I was finding it difficult to manage the references, and so I have merged all references from a single book into one referene with the page annotated. This cleans up the references considerably. Mycelium101 (talk) 08:58, 14 August 2012 (UTC)

Image gallery[edit]

  • There are sections without images. Why not merge the images there? Viriditas (talk) 02:02, 29 July 2012 (UTC)
Some of those images could be added to the article (eg the sangoma in the ndumba), however some of the images, especially of the sangoma working, deepens the understanding of the whole article, as images of sangomas at work are quite rare. Very little is actually known about sangomas and how they work and there are a lot of misconceptions regarding their practises in South Africa, even amongst the communities that they practice in and so images that remove these preconceptions and show them for how they are would be very valuable to the article. This is why I wish to keep a gallery sections so that others who have knowledge/experience of other regions can add images of sangomas of other regions / tribes / practices of South Africa, who can sometimes look quite different to the images I have put up. Therefore I have tried to be mindful of not overloading the article with my images.Mycelium101 (talk) 00:54, 31 July 2012 (UTC)
I have removed the gallery and inserted the pictures in the article — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mycelium101 (talkcontribs) 12:09, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
I removed the second image from the lead and moved it to the last section. One image in the lead should be enough. Also, I changed "Image" to "File" and made all the images thumbs as image size is controlled by preferences now. Viriditas (talk) 02:18, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
It looks good to meMycelium101 (talk) 10:33, 3 August 2012 (UTC)

Notes and references[edit]

  • This will not impact the review, but the formatting of your notes and references is very poor. Consult a citation guide (Chicago, APA, etc.) and pick a format and stick with it. Or, just use citation templates. Viriditas (talk) 10:39, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
Can you please elaborate on what you mean here? I thought the majority of the references was using the standard citation template as per Help:References and page numbers? Mycelium101 (talk) 11:00, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
First, you forgot to use that template in the "References" section. Instead, it was added manually (nothing wrong with that when it is done correctly and consistently) and uses italics for titles (not common) instead of italics for publishers (common). (Strike that, your formatting is just fine. I'm having a problem with my browser. Italics are commonly used for book titles and you have used them correctly.) Second, the notes section does not consistently use the citation template nor the same format, for example Janzen 1991, Dauskart 1990, and Connor/Keeney 2008 do not have citation templates so the format isn't consistent. However, this will not impact this GA review (as it is not part of the criteria for a GA) but will present you with problems should you choose to nominate it for A or FA class in the future. Viriditas (talk) 11:25, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
Okay, thanks. I understand what you mean now, and I have updated most notes and references to harvard notation using {snf} template. It will be good to have a standard that future edits will align to. Mycelium101 (talk) 04:13, 16 August 2012 (UTC)

External links[edit]

Both are quite notable websites - I was made aware of the mphutungwane through a popular South African magazine which talked about sangomas that are merging modern technology with their traditional arts. If the site was just about promotion, I would not suggest it here, however, so far in my online searches it is the only website that offers constant and valuable information from a traditional healers perspective specifically within the culture that they serve, which, in my opinion is unique and notable. As John Lockley has been on radio and TV considerably in SA and overseas, I can see why it could be here, however, he is mentioned in Notable Sangomas and the link to his page links to his website, so as per your recommendation, I will take off the John Lockley link. (BTW I have no affiliation to any of the websites listed and I have never communicated with any of them) Mycelium101 (talk) 12:08, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
My understanding is that an external links section on this topic would be about traditional healers of South Africa, written from an academic or tertiary perspective. I don't see how two personal websites fulfill this criteria. If there were independent sources showing the notability of both sources in the context of this subject, then I would be forced to agree. Otherwise, we already have a link to John Lockley and that's all we need. The external link is somewhat promotional and probably not appropriate. What I will do is bring this to the attention of the Wikipedia:External links/Noticeboard and let them decide. As a reviewer, my approach is conservative, so I may be taking a different view than you. Viriditas (talk) 01:57, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
It's helpful to get an outsider perspective and for someone to put a critical eye over the article. I have removed the John Lockley link. I am happy to see what others say about mphutungwane and go with consenus, however, I think its important to also consider cultural sensitivity with this one. Culturally, for the bantu people of South Africa, a sangoma will be more of authority in reference to their traditional values and culture than an academic or tertiary perspective, which is a western POV. My opinion is that it is important to also include a link to their culture written from their own perspective and not just a western academic perspective, however, happy to go with other consenus or opinion.Mycelium101 (talk) 10:17, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
I have found a site that I wish to have added in external links and as this is under discussion, would you consider this link as an appropriate link? Gallery of sangomas from different cultures around South Africa Mycelium101 (talk) 02:56, 2 August 2012 (UTC)
Those are wonderful photographs, but again, that's a commercial, personal website. I'll add that to the noticeboard request. Viriditas (talk) 01:59, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
Users invited to comment at Wikipedia:External_links/Noticeboard#Traditional_healers_of_South_Africa. Viriditas (talk) 02:06, 3 August 2012 (UTC)
  • Here from ELN. In my opinion neither of the external links meet the WP:EL guidelines. While they may not do any active harm to the article, they are nevertheless not appropriate in a GA class article. ThemFromSpace 02:37, 4 August 2012 (UTC)


GA review (see here for what the criteria are, and here for what they are not)
  1. It is reasonably well written.
    a (prose): b (MoS for lead, layout, word choice, fiction, and lists):
    Prose has grammar, typos, misspellings and punctuation issues
    Do all foreign words need italics or not?
    My preference is that the very least is that it is italicised the first time it is mentioned, however not required after that. What are your suggestions? (I do think there is inconsistency in the article with using italics which I will try to fix.) Mycelium101 (talk) 09:44, 14 August 2012 (UTC)
    I have tried to be consistent with the italics as much as possible as per above reasoning. Mycelium101 (talk) 03:54, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
    Relevance and placement of image gallery should be made explicit per WP:Galleries; otherwise, add images to other sections or add new Commons cat
    See also consisting of duplicate links removed per WP:SEEALSO
    See WP:LEAD for some ideas on how to present a summary
    Recommend removing two external links
  2. It is factually accurate and verifiable.
    a (references): b (citations to reliable sources): c (OR):
    "The Xhosa term is igqirha (pl. amagqirha); as reflected in the lyrics of Miriam Makeba's Click Song" -- That observation is bordering on original research. Do you have a secondary source?
    First paragraph of "Relationship with western medicine" needs sources for claims like "Public health specialists are now enlisting sangomas in the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS" etc.
    First two paragraphs of "Beliefs and tradition" section are unsourced.
    Last sentences of third and fourth paragraphs in "Beliefs and tradition" section are unsourced.
    "Drumming and ancestral dancing" section is unsourced.
    "First paragraph of "Divination, diagnosis and healing practices" section is unsourced.
    Paragraphs are now sourced.Mycelium101 (talk) 09:44, 14 August 2012 (UTC)
    "In the same way, sangomas will interpret the metaphors present in dreams, either their own or their patients." No source.
    Done - Now sourced Mycelium101 (talk) 03:24, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
    "In South African English and Afrikaans the word muti is sometimes also used as a slang term for medicine in general." No source.
    This kind of reference would come more from a travel guide for tourists to South Africa, as it is a colloquial aspect of SA culture. I found some website that list common SA slang such as
    Trip Advisor:South Africa Important Phrases
    South African Car Hire
    The Guardian - World Cup 2010 Travel Guide
    I went for the Trip Advisory to South Africa as it is the least commercial Mycelium101 (talk) 03:24, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
    "A trainee sangoma (or ithwasa) trains formally under another sangoma..." No source.
    Done - Now sourced Mycelium101 (talk) 03:24, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
    "At times in the training, and for the graduation..." No source.
    Done - Now sourced Mycelium101 (talk) 03:24, 15 August 2012 (UTC)
  1. It is broad in its coverage.
    a (major aspects): b (focused):
  2. It follows the neutral point of view policy.
    Fair representation without bias:
    Recent edits to "Relationship with Western medicine" section have put the neutrality of the article in doubt and make me question whether there is a COI
  3. It is stable.
    No edit wars, etc.:
    Not stable due to repeated addition of closely paraphrased material
  4. It is illustrated by images, where possible and appropriate.
    a (images are tagged and non-free images have fair use rationales): b (appropriate use with suitable captions):
    Note: it is difficult for the layperson to determine if these images best represent the subject
  5. Overall: Putting on hold until major issues are fixed by nominator.
    Pass/Fail: Unfortunately, I have to fail this article at this time due to several reasons explained here, including the repeated insertion of closely paraphrased content directly from the source.[3][4] Additionally, this material is not about traditional healers of South Africa, but was altered (likely in good faith) to make it appear as if it was. It is possible that given the nominator is a fairly new editor, they are not familiar with the policies and guidelines. I've attempted to explain how to fix this, but the nominator does not seem to understand what I'm talking about. Subsequent reviews should endeavor to compare the source material to the prose and to look very carefully for any signs of close paraphrasing and whether the material is about South Africa or some other topic. I've left a template explanation of the problem on the nominator's talk page.[5] Viriditas (talk) 09:43, 18 August 2012 (UTC)

Thanks for the review so far, I will fix up the lead, try to fix as much prose and spelling as I can and will notify you once completed.Mycelium101 (talk) 00:54, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

The only source I can find for the Miriam Makeba reference is another article about The Click Song - However that article is unsourced. I do not know enough about Xhosa culture to know whether this song is relevant to traditonal healing practices Mycelium101 (talk) 10:26, 3 August 2012 (UTC)

It should be quite simple to find references for the Relationship with Western Medicine. I will search for some in my reference material and include them.Mycelium101 (talk) 10:29, 3 August 2012 (UTC)

/* External links */ Reinstated External links[edit]

I have just added 2 external links to the external links sections. While they were seen as doing no active harm to the article, they were deemed as not appropriate for a GA quality article as they do not fit the rigourous criteria of a GA standard article. I have readded them, as I believe they provide invaluable extension and insight into the culture and practices of traditional healers and the article is no longer nominated for a GA standard article. (As noted previously, I have neither any affiliation nor have I ever contacted any person from any of these links, and value them solely on their ability to enhance the understanding of the article)

  1. The first link Mphutungwane is a website that has managed by a notable traditional healer and expert in the field, Amanda Gcabashe. I came across her website in an article in You Magazine which profiled a number of traditional sangomas and how they are utilising technology in their arts and practices. The BBC wrote an article on her which can be found at South Africa's hi-tech healer
  2. The second link is a photo gallery of a photographer that took photos of traditional healers around the Cape Area at Gallery of sangomas from different cultures around South Africa. The focus of the website is the photos and not the commercial value of them, as there are no direct opportunity to buy these prints from the site.

If you have any issues comments regarding including/excluding these links, please discuss here. Mycelium101 (talk) 02:32, 8 September 2012 (UTC)

  • I'm afraid that is an entirely erroneous assessment of the discussion. First to correct your errors: 1) the thread was closed with no action taken, and since no action was requested, nothing was rejected. 2) I haven't "misinterpreted" anything, let alone how we use external links. Your use of external links in an educational article is extremely odd and unusual. The vast majority of educational topics do not link to commercial web pages or web sites advertising products or services. Because of your SPA behavior in this matter (this is the only topic you seem to ever work on), I brought my concerns to both the external links and COI noticeboards where they were addressed by multiple editors. At no time have I ever requested action, however, I may have to do this in the future. Viriditas (talk) 01:40, 19 September 2012 (UTC)
  • Fortunately, interested parties are able to reach their own assessment of the resolution of the COI accusation by reading the COI conversation themselves. (Please be aware that according to WP:COIN Outcome Possibilities #2, you are to refrain from further accustations of COI unless you can produce additional evidence of a COI.) Mycelium101 (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 03:15, 19 September 2012 (UTC)
  • Could you detail these alleged "accusations" that I am to refrain from. Quotes might help. Worries and concerns about how you are using your account aren't "accusations". Viriditas (talk) 03:21, 19 September 2012 (UTC)
  • I do not wish to discuss this further, as the matter has been closed and resolved with no objections from yourself. If you wish to discuss this matter further, please reopen the topic on WP:COIN. Mycelium101 (talk) 04:01, 19 September 2012 (UTC)

Charlatans, Scam Artists and Fraudulent Sangomas/Faith Healers Advertisements and Websites[edit]

Unfortunately, charlatan sangomas and scam artists are extremely common around the major cities of South Africa. There are thousands of adverstisement fliers and posters on almost every street corner, especially in the CBD and densely populated areas of all major cities, especially Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban etc., that advertise fraudulent sangomas, faith healers and scam artists. These scam artists and charlatans are mainly of West African origin (mainly Nigeria) that have moved to South Africa and are opportunistic in nature and their motivation is not healing, but to extract as much money as possible from those that visit them.

The flyers target mainly migrants and foreigners that have no experience with sangomas and inyangas and therefore can't tell the difference. The presence of them are becoming more and more online too. Examples of these charlatans is this edit of this page [7] and these websites : [8], [9], [10], [11], [12] to name a few. These are all false sangomas at best and scam artists at worst.

The charltans are relatively easy to spot from the following common points in their advertisments :

  • Zero or only token emphasis of the importance of the ancestors and no focus on the cultural aspects of traditional healing or harmony with ancesors
  • Emphasis of cures that appeal to ones sense of insecurity and self-gratification (love, money, sexual problems, success etc.)
  • Talking about healing using terms such as witches, witchcraft or witch doctor (Witches or abatagati are very evil people in the eyes of a sangoma and a legitimate sangoma/inyanga would never associate their practises with the word witch)
  • Lack of mention of the tradition / tribal affiliation of the sangoma ie. Xhosa, Zulu, Shangaan, Swazi, Pedi etc.
  • Lack of mention of where and how they were trained. (The training (thwasa) plays an important role for a sangoma throughout their career.)
  • Describing their healing as 'spells'. (Same as witchcraft, a spell is deemed as black magic by sangomas) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mycelium101 (talkcontribs) 13:41, 27 May 2013 (UTC)

These charlatans and scam artists destroy hundreds, if not thousands of peoples lives every day by swindling them out of their life savings, based on false promises and sleight of hand trickery. Legitimate sangomas and traditional healing organisations are actively fighting these people both via legal and other means, however, this will take many years, if not decades to combat.

Unfortunately, the image that was just added here (in good faith) [13] has all the hallmarks of an advert of a charlatan or scam-artist and not a legitimate sangoma. The website advertised in the picture [14] does not appear legitimate in any shape or form for the reasons outlined above. I would love to move it and write a section on fake sangomas and scam artists, however, it would all be WP:ORIGINAL, so I cannot. Therefore, I have to revert this edit as it is highly likely that the advertisement [15] is of a charlatan or scam artist and not a legitimate sangoma. Mycelium101 (talk) 01:32, 25 May 2013 (UTC)

I agree and support your revert. I have seen press articles about the issue like this one so I think it would be worth adding something about it to the article, even possibly with an ad image like the one removed under a separate heading. These ads are everywhere on our streets and it should be easy to obtain a free image of one. Helen (talk) 08:38, 25 May 2013 (UTC)
I would have included this source under Legal status which is my main area of interest here but the online article seems to be missing important content: "Speaking to Morning Live on (Monday) Deputy Health Minister Dr Gwen Ramokgopa said 'in terms of the Traditional Health Practitioners Act (2007) aims to address public concerns over unscrupulous and bogus traditional medicine practitioners and practices.'" Helen (talk) 09:20, 25 May 2013 (UTC)
The THO, which represents some but not all local traditional healers, has done a 180 degree turn regarding regulation and there is sadly little press coverage regarding the issue. Helen (talk) 09:23, 25 May 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for these references. They help a lot. Based on the sources you provided, I dug a little bit deeper and uncovered some other excellent sources :
These sources together, cover a well rounded perspective of the problem. I will put all the information together and write a couple of paragraphs regarding this in a new section and use the previous picture that I reverted as illustration. Mycelium101 (talk) 03:37, 26 May 2013 (UTC)
Section has been added. Comments, direct edits or fixing up my prose is welcome. Mycelium101 (talk) 13:42, 27 May 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for your efforts. I read it quickly, will review again later when I have some more time. Helen (talk) 15:51, 27 May 2013 (UTC)
Yes, many thanks. A few days ago when the original revert happened I was going to suggest we document such charlatans more thoroughly, since your original explanation for the revert was pretty eloquent evidence. I'm glad the photo could spark a useful addition to the article. Steven Walling • talk 04:25, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
Thanks Steven. Your addition actually triggered something that I have been wanting to write about for quite a while, but didn't know where to start. I was thinking about it from a different angle. The photo and the links that Helen provided, was exactly what was needed to realise how to put it together. Mycelium101 (talk) 05:20, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

WP:MEDRS - Concerns over POV and unreliable, unscientific content on issues of health[edit]

There can't be any cultural relativism here. No scientific studies exist to prove the reliability of traditional South African medicine. It has to be made clear in the article. Wikipedia has a responsibility to its South African readers to give the most reliable scientific knowledge on traditional medicine. And that is, it doesn't work. And it can be harmful, even life threatening. This is demanded by WP's guidelines.


Wikipedia's articles, while not intended to provide medical advice, are nonetheless an important and widely used source of health information.[1] Therefore, it is vital that the biomedical information in all types of articles be based on reliable, third-party, published secondary sources and accurately reflect current medical knowledge.

Ideal sources for biomedical content includes literature reviews or systematic reviews published in reputable medical journals, academic and professional books written by experts in the relevant field and from a respected publisher, and medical guidelines or position statements from nationally or internationally recognised expert bodies. Primary sources should generally not be used for medical content. Many such sources represent unreliable information that has not been vetted in review articles, or present preliminary information that may not bear out when tested in clinical trials.

This guideline supports the general sourcing policy at Wikipedia:Verifiability with specific attention given to sources appropriate for the medical and health-related content in any type of article, including alternative medicine. (talk) 08:04, 22 June 2015 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

Mr IP Address, before we begin, let me point out some things to be clear. So far, you have displayed a behaviour of WP:SOAPBOX and have not provided any specific details for your concerns or even any WP:RELIABLE sources to investigate. You have made some very ignorant blanket statements and nothing further apart from some aggressive reversions starting here[16]. This is WP:NOTFORUM to discuss your personal point of views on a matter. Provide reliable sources and specific concerns if you are interested in improving the article. If not, you are just demonstrating troll behaviour. [17] If you continue to behave as such, this section will be removed as a demonstration that you are here to troll and not to provide any valuable input (Maybe try signing in too).
The article is heavily referenced by material that conforms to WP:MEDRS standards. There are numerous references from the top professors of plant and biotechnology of South Africa [18], there are references from medical doctors and also from United Nations Organisations, such as UNAIDS [19], The World Health Organisation [20] and the Treatment Action Campaign and AIDS Law Project [21]. The article is heavily referenced from reliable secondary sources and any points of view are highlighted as such. I suggest you read through the WP:NOTTRUTH article, and provide some sources backing your claims, else your opinion is irrelevant.
The section heading has been changed as it's unhelpful and disruptive to have such a long diatribe in the section heading [22]. Please use signed comments to make your statements or comments. Mycelium101 (talk) 10:37, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

My point is about traditional healing being unscientific and harmful. And therefore that is written in the headline. There are no high quality medical papers saying that herb enemas, animal sacrifices, drinking goat blood or washing in goat blood or talking to dead ancestors, or taking herbs that make you vomit, or taking herbs that can be toxic etc. etc. would cure illnesses. There is not one reliable, mainstream medical paper that would support such claims.
An encyclopedia needs to be a reliable source of verified, scientific, rational information. I take the vantage point of a South African, in 2015 or in 2025, as wikipedia is here to stay irrespective of its quality, uncertain of whether to trust traditional healing or not, googling for advice and coming up this page. The information here has to be reliable, scientific and of sound medical advice. In its current state the article is completely unacceptable. There are a few caveats, couple of soundings for concern, but overall the article is very positive and supportive towards, at worst fraudulent and life threatening, unscientific practices that do NOT cure seriously ill people and can seriously harm healthy people. Whatever "positives" there are are fully placebo effects and mistaken causation. Body's natural processess cure the common cold, stomach bug or some other lesser illness, and not the herbs, not the sacrificed animal and not the enema.
This skeptical, rational, empirical epistemological stance, the ethos of modern science and modern western medicine applies to christian faith healing, shamanism, homeopathy and traditional (South) African healing.
Age expectancy in Africa was around 20 years before western influence in good and bad. That is how well the traditional healing works. It doesn't work. It's illusionary medicine, and in the larger picture it's a threat to a working civilizational fabric, working health practices and damaging to human health. These are facts, this is science. And the significance for a country and continent ravaged by HIV/AIDS and other serious threaths to human health is of no small concern. Superstition and traditional healing are interwoven and give credence to practices that do far more harm than good in the larger picture and in the longer run. From Tanzanian witch doctors to Niger delta exorcists to South African sangomas. The South Africa of 2050, if it wants to be a modern, prosperous society cannot be a society where there are 10x more traditional healers than real doctors applying real science looking after the health concerns of the citizens.
To any rational, scientific person these are self-evident truths. How to completely rewrite the article so that a) traditional practitioners are not insulted (that is NOT the point) b) traditional practices are described in required detail and c) (most important) the inadequacy, dangers, and unscientific, unverified, unreliable, superstitious nature of traditional healing is made clear, that is another question. But an encyclopedia, the source of rational and reliable information cannot pander to pseudoscience, magic crystals or goat blood. That is clear. South Africans deserve better. (talk) 11:40, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

This is still your opinion only. The talk page is not a forum and your opinion is irrelevant here, as is mine. You still haven't provided any reliable references or specific details of concern in the article that are sourced incorrectly. There is no recommendations in the article on what is deemed medical. The article documents the traditional practices and beliefs of sangomas. Nothing more and nothing less. It does not endorse nor condemn. It merely reflects available reliable sources. The section heading needs to remain neutral as per WP:TALKNEW. Do not change it again as it is being disruptive. I would also like to see a reliable reference for your claim of a '20 year age expectancy before western influence', as you are approaching borderline racism here.
Also, please explain why you have 2 IP addresses or posing as another IP Address. Mycelium101 (talk) 12:13, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
It is not my opinion only, that faith healing is unscientific. It is a verified scientific fact, and it's normatively applied in several wikipedia articles on different forms of faith healing. An article on homeopathy or so called Christian Science or creationism for that matter couldn't ever be written like this article. Adding indigenous does not make it less unscientific, less harmful or guarded from criticism. South Africans deserve to be treated by real doctors and real medicine, not by imaginary medicine that does not cure seriously ill people and can seriously harm healthy people. This is the opposite of racism. And your accusation is very distasteful. Age expectancy in Europe varied between 25-35 years just 300 years ago. In Africa it was somewhat worse. This all changed with the scientific revolution, modern agricultural practices and modern medicine. Faith healing, herbs, goat blood, enemas, ancestor worship, prayers, amulets didn't contribute one bit. It is from that scientific and rational angle that an encyclopedia must cover issues that are linked to health and medicine and have real life consequences. (talk) 12:52, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
Livescience - 'Human Lifespans Nearly Constant for 2,000 Years' by critical thinker, Benjamin Radford - [23]- "But the inclusion of infant mortality rates in calculating life expectancy creates the mistaken impression that earlier generations died at a young age; Americans were not dying en masse at the age of 46 in 1907. The fact is that the maximum human lifespan — a concept often confused with "life expectancy" — has remained more or less the same for thousands of years. The idea that our ancestors routinely died young (say, at age 40) has no basis in scientific fact. "... "Again, the high infant mortality rate skews the "life expectancy" dramatically downward. If a couple has two children and one of them dies in childbirth while the other lives to be 90, stating that on average the couple's children lived to be 45 is statistically accurate but meaningless. Claiming a low average age of death due to high infant mortality is not the same as claiming that the average person in that population will die at that age."
- You still have not provided any reliable sources for your statistics or your claims. My position is stated, and without any reliable sources provided by you to investigate or specific examples in the article to discuss, I cannot discuss this any further as you are merely stating opinion and conjecture. Once again, please read the article WP:NOTTRUTH to understand why your opinion has no relevance here. Mycelium101 (talk) 13:24, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
If your point is that modern, western medicine is saving mostly 0-5 year old infants in historical comparison, and the impact is less on older age groups, there is no disagreement. For thousands of years traditional healing rubbed infants with herbs, fed them herbal mixtures or goat blood and gave them enemas, or prayed by their bedsides, excorsed spirits and tried to shield them from evil eyes and the infants, they died. This only changed with modern medicine.
In the article nearly all sources are pages from books that most editors have no access to. There are no links to reliable high quality medical papers as required per WP:MEDRS. And such sources of course do NOT exist.
The article starts with
"healing physical, emotional and spiritual illnesses" ... "counteracting witches"
and continues in similar vain. The tone is approving of the practices, and the claims are made neutrally in a as-a-matter-of-fact tone.
"By using ngoma, the sangoma can create harmony between the spirits which results in the alleviation of the patient's suffering."
"An experienced inyanga will generally seek the guidance of an ancestral spirit before embarking to find and collect muti. The healer, through dreams, or during prayers, will be advised of an auspicious time for collecting the plants, and in some cases will be told which particular plants to collect for a specific patient and where these plants are located. The healer supplements the advice from an ancestral spirit with their own knowledge, training and experience."
The article is full of factually and neutrally given claims like these. It clearly creates the picture to an unsuspecting and uninformed reader that these are valid practices, and that there is evidence for them working. It should be made clear in the article that that is not the case. I'm not going to butcher the article by removing such content, which would then mean pretty much the whole article. I'm saying that it needs to be rewritten. Much of the current content can be used, but it has to be placed in a rational and critical, scientific framework.
To give a comparison. About, as far as I can reckon, one of the most famous, if not the most famous, sangoma in South Africa, and one linked to in the article, Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa. It says on his subpage, that:
"Credo has been an active and vocal advocate in the use of traditional African medicines for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, cancer and tuberculosis. He created a trust called the Vulinda Trust in 1999 to preserve traditional knowledge and to promote the use of these traditional medicines. The primary focus of his research has been on a South African plant called unwele in Zulu (Sutherlandia Frutescens). Unwele is traditionally used as a well being tonic, however has demonstrated anticancer activity through in vitro studies. Research of the efficacy of Sutherlandia Frutescens in the treatment of HIV/AIDS is ongoing and phase IIb trials are being conducted at the South African Herbal Science and Medicine Institute (SAHSMI)."
And here is what science based medicine has to say ( ):
Although some animals studies have been conducted on the putative pharmacology of S. frutescens,[2] there is no good evidence relating to its safety and efficacy.[4] S. frutescens has been promoted as useful to people with HIV/AIDS, but there is no evidence of benefit, and it interacts adversely with conventional drugs used, such as antiretroviral drugs.[5][6][7]
And the sources given:
Johnson, Q; Syce, J; Nell, H; Rudeen, K; Folk, WR (2007). "A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of Lessertia frutescens in healthy adults". PLoS clinical trials 2 (4): e16. doi:10.1371/journal.pctr.0020016. PMC 1863514. PMID 17476314.
Mills, Edward; Cooper, Curtis; Seely, Dugald; Kanfer, Izzy (2005). "African herbal medicines in the treatment of HIV: Hypoxis and Sutherlandia. An overview of evidence and pharmacology". Nutrition Journal 4: 19. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-4-19. PMC 1156943. PMID 15927053.
Müller, AC; Kanfer, I (2011). "Potential pharmacokinetic interactions between antiretrovirals and medicinal plants used as complementary and African traditional medicines". Biopharmaceutics & drug disposition 32 (8): 458–70. doi:10.1002/bdd.775. PMID 22024968.
Mills, E; Foster, BC; Van Heeswijk, R; Phillips, E; Wilson, K; Leonard, B; Kosuge, K; Kanfer, I (2005). "Impact of African herbal medicines on antiretroviral metabolism". AIDS (London, England) 19 (1): 95–7. doi:10.1097/00002030-200501030-00013. PMID 15627040.
And that is the difference between imaginary medicine and science based medicine. And that is why South Africans like all people in this world deserve to be treated by science based medicine and why different forms of faith healing and interwoven superstitions are obstacles to human well being. South Africans who are uninformed or uncertain on these questions and are seeking information, deserve a scientific, reliable and verified answer from an encyclopedia. And that is why the article needs to be rewritten. I'm not outlaying how, but why that is the case. I would wish more people to consider this view. Outside reviewers of the article content would be helpful. (talk) 14:07, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── A couple of points to make :

  • My point in mentioning the LiveScience article on Life expectancy is to highlight your own predujices and dependance on pseudoscientific stats to create a culturally ignorant hypothesis that Africa needs to be saved from itself, which amounts to nothing more than historical revisionism. You presented them as facts and science and relied on pseudohistory and distorted statistics which you are unable to corroborate (Africans had a "20 year age expectancy before western influence") to justify a fallacy and neo-colonial understanding of African culture and history. Wim van Binsbergen, Associated Senior Researcher at the African Studies Centre in Leiden, summarises it best when he says, "One of the principal reasons the North Atlantic has had both for studying ‘other cultures’, and for reifying these as absolutely and insurmountably different, has been: to allow North Atlantic civilisation to construct itself on the basis of a claim of a rationality and science incomparably superior to the thought processes engaged in by humans in other continents."[24] A scenario and attitude that, unfortunately, Africa has seen far too much of. No wonder the African Union has adopted and popularised the phrase "African solutions for African problems."
  • You have stated that the article is "full of claims made neutrally in a as-a-matter-of-fact tone." and "The article is full of factually and neutrally given claims like these". [25] From your own acknowledgement, you have confirmed that the current content is written in a neutral and matter-of-fact tone. Therefore, we don't have a dispute of neutrality, but a standard run-of-the-mill wikipedia dispute on *content*. This is no different to any article, so if you feel that a view point is not suitably represented, and you can find reliable references and are able to write it in a neutral manner, then add it. It is up to each contributor to provide and neutrally represent the reliable sources that they believe should be represented. The article hasn't distorted any references, it has merely articulated them in a neutral and matter-of-fact tone. Therefore, the removal of the neutral dispute tag is not a violation of WP's guidelines[26], as you have admitted that there is no dispute of the neutrality of the current content but you have an issue that you believe certain content is not represented.
  • If there is one criticism of the article, is that it closely paraphrases many of the references that it represents. That is one of the reasons that it did not make a GA status, and rightly so. Some areas should be rephrased as to not closely paraphrase it's sources. The ones you have mentioned above are examples, and that is easily fixed. It might get us closer to another GA nomination.
  • The relevant place to make your points on Credo Mutwa is on that page, not here. The efficacy of individual medicinal plants is not within the scope of this article. This article is about documenting the cultural and traditional practices of SA traditional healers. Mycelium101 (talk) 10:44, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
I, of course, did not rely on pseudoscience. Infant mortality is part of the general concept of age/life expectancy. This is all I said, and it is true. Infant mortality is not nice nor desirable. Neither are HIV or AIDS which should be treated with modern medicine, and not with a herb with adverse health effects, like one of the most famous sangomas in South Africa suggests. Therefore that is entirely relevant for the article. It is one detail in the larger picture, that South African traditional healing does not work, there is no evidence it works, it does not cure ill people, it is irresponsible to claim so. Only modern science based medicine offers hope of curing seriously ill humans.
Falsehoods told in a matter-of-fact tone do no become facts. The article is full of falsehoods. And there is not one link to a reliable, high quality medical paper, as required by WP:MEDRS. Book pages are not valid sources for claims of faith healing working. WP:MEDRS makes it clear that it applies also to alternative medicine, so you cannot hide behind indigenous culture. Indigenous culture or not, it is unscientific, potentially very harmful to people, and do not belong in an encyclopedia in the current format.
Quoting what you quoted "a claim of a rationality and science incomparably superior to the thought processes engaged in by humans in other continents", and the rational reply is that, they are. Of course they are. Rationality and science are superior. Far superior. Rationality and science *are* the basis of an encyclopedia. An encyclopedia is a source of rational and scientific knowledge. An encyclopedia cannot pander to superstition, religious faith, claims of supernatural. It is the responsibility of an encyclopedia and its contributors to formulate rational, scientific, verifiable knowledge. If you want to write positively of faith healing, gods, herb enemas, goat blood or talking to ancestors, an encyclopedia is not the place for that.
The above said, it is clear that there remains a dispute over the neutrality, accuracy and NPOV of the article. Therefore it is correct, as by WP's guidelines, that the tag remains. The article has to be rewritten to place the content in a critical, rational and scientific framework. I would prefer to talk first before editing. And see what others think. But it is unacceptable that the article would remain in its current form in the long term. South African readers of an encyclopedia deserve the scientific and rational view on pseudomedical practices that do not work, do not cure their serious illnesses. It will cost them hard earned money, for no tangible return. And can seriously harm them. This has to be made clear in the article. (talk) 13:47, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
This is now going around in circles. When you say the article is full of falsehoods, you still haven't read WP:NOTTRUTH. The article is full of references to valid reliable sources that are also covered by WP:MEDRS mentioned here [27], whether you like it or not, whether you agree with them or not or even whether they are factual or not. Verifiability Not Truth. Rationality and science *is not* the basis of Wikipedia - Verifiability is. By your very initial quote from WP:MEDRS : [28] "Ideal sources for biomedical content includes literature reviews or systematic reviews published in reputable medical journals, academic and professional books written by experts in the relevant field and from a respected publisher, and medical guidelines or position statements from nationally or internationally recognised expert bodies". Ironically, even if Sutherlandia/Cancerbush/Unwele was mentioned in this article, which it is not, a recommendation on it's use from the SA Ministry of Health would still conform to MEDRS as it is a national body. We are not here to determine what is fact or what is fiction, what is acceptable and what is not. We are here to reference and represent reliable sources. It's the cornerstone of Wikipedia. If you wish your version of facts over verifiability, then write your own blog. The onus is now yours to substantiate your claims of non-neutrality or POV with substance and reliable sources, instead of your opinions about what wikipedia should or should not be, or what the facts are or are not. The neutral dispute is not long term tag, so if you cannot provide any further evidence / reliable sources of your concerns, dispute is over.
Incidently, I notice that the contributions to wikipedia from your IP Addresses are the only contributions that you have made to Wikipedia. [29], [30], [31]. Can you please confirm whether these are your first edits to Wikipedia or whether you have a registered account that you are not singing into to make these edits? Mycelium101 (talk) 17:52, 25 June 2015 (UTC)

Your attitude is not engaged, nor helpful. You have not given one single reputable medical paper for your and the article's claims of supernatural cures for physical and "spiritual" illnesses. Such papers of course do NOT exist. No reputable paper would let such content through its peer-review and/or quality standards. The books you link to are either obscure and unreliable sources, not WP:MEDRS standard, or the sources given do not support the claims made. It's like giving a page in a creationist journal/book and claiming it's a quality source. It isn't. Or to a political tract or the relativist musings of an individual. But a reliable medical journal it isn't.
The clear fact here is that there are no reliable, high quality sources for the verifiability of supernatural "healing". A Governmental institution supporting a potentially toxic weed as a treatment for HIV/AIDS, a grass that has adverse effects on HIV treatment as per several REAL scientific studies in reputable papers, is not a reliable secondary sources in serious questions of health. Faith healing does not work, there is no evidence for it, it is unscientific and potentially harmful, that is the normative stance at wikipedia from homeopathy to christian science, scientology and shamanism. And that WILL be the line that will win here. This article WILL be radically altered. And you can participate in it or not, but it will happen. As it is the responsibility of an encyclopedia to offer reliable and science based information on medical questions. An encyclopedia cannot and WILL not pander to faith healing, herb enemas or exorcism. South Africans deserve better. South Africans deserve reliable information on traditional healing, they deserve to know that it will NOT cure them and that in case of serious illnesses they need to see a REAL doctor, one who applies science based medicine. South Africans deserve better than pseudomedicine, they deserve real medicine, real cures. And the little bit an article like this can help in raising that awareness is the responsibility of an encyclopedia. No pandering to unscientific pseudomedicine, reliable and verifiable information needs to be given. And the article rewritten from this premise.
If you don't want to participate in rewriting the article and instead want to guard it, then go and ask a third party opinion. I would be surprised if you can get a larger collective to support your stance and protect this article from radical editing. As this article has been reviewed by the community in the past and it is C-rated, the lowest rating for an article that is not a stub/start. And that is understandable for the reasons I have outlined. It is unacceptable to offer uninformed South Africans seeking reliable information the falsehoods of ancestral spirits, herb enemas, bone throwings, skin cuttings etc. instead of the verifiable fact, that nothing of it works, and they have to go and see a real doctor in case of health worries.
The article has to reflect that. And the article will reflect that. You can participate in the process or try and fight to keep pseudomedicine on wikipedia's pages, but I wouldn't give your stance high chances of success. Better to accept that the article will be radically changed and take part in the process. (talk) 18:28, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
I'm not opposed to including any scientific material or any other material positive, negative or neutral, if it is sourced to WP standards, written neutrally and accurately represents the source material (unlike your example above from the scientific research on Sutherlandia, which is not neutral (good is not a neutral term) and doesn't reflect the source (the source says 'little evidence' not 'no good evidence' + the source was a test on humans which found no statistical relevant adverse effects, which isn't even mentioned). These kinds of things will be challenged, just as I have challenged you on your depiction of African history. What I do object to, as a South African, is your arrogant, self-righteous & culturally ignorant depiction of a central theme of Bantu Southern African culture. Whether you like the label or not, your comments above are rascist and ignorant. The attitude that you have depicted above will not be allowed. So if you feel you can enhance the article in a factual and neutral manner, unlike what you have displayed in your comments so far, then please go ahead. However, accept that the slightest deviation from referenced material or any original research will be challenged and removed. Mycelium101 (talk) 22:25, 25 June 2015 (UTC)
Your sources, obscure book pages instead of reputable medical papers on health issues covered by WP:MEDRS will be removed when need be. No claims of supernatural healing working will be left in the article. Reliable quality sources, like on Sutherlandia will be used when need be. You can "challenge" them, or try and twist their content, but it will be of no use, as they are acceptable sources per WP:MEDRS, unlike your book pages. You simply cannot claim in an encyclopedia that faith healing, divination, talking to dead people works, 'source: "a book, p. xxx"', that is unacceptable and can not be tolerated. And it will be altered. And you can try and edit war, but you will lose on this, as it is the basic standard of an encyclopedia not to allow such content. You are in the wrong here. If you want to test it, I repeat, go and ask for a third party opinion, a larger community review of the matter. And your accusations of racism (now second time) are in clear violation of wikipedia's guidelines and will result in a ban if you persist. South Africans deserve reliable, verifiable, scientific and rational information on traditional healing. They deserve to read from an encyclopedia the fact, that faith healing does not work, and they have to go to see a real doctor, who applies science based medicine, in case of health worries. That is what an encyclopedia must offer those who come to it to seek reliable information. And that is the information this article must eventually formulate. I would suggest you take part in the process of changing this article towards that direction. (talk) 03:10, 26 June 2015 (UTC)
What is obvious from your comment of "obscure book pages" is that you don't understand how harvard shortened footnotes on wikipedia work. Please click on the template link to understand. The template references the author and the page number. Click on it, and it will take you to the reference section, where you will find the full details of the publication, including an online link if available. As an example, the "Truter 2007, p 56-60" citation will take you to the reference section for the article published in the South African Pharmaceutical Journal Truter, Ilse (September 2007). "African Traditional Healers: Cultural and religious beliefs intertwined in a holistic way". SA Pharmaceutical Journal 74 (8). (I will even link it in the reference section to the online source for you to read in full). I'm curious to understand why you don't think that the article published in the South African Medical Journal [32] which outlines the exact argument of the differences/collaboration between Traditional Healers and South African Medical Practices is not a "reputable medical paper". - I suggest you reading that very carefully to understand how medical practices and cultural relativism work together in a reputable and scientific way in modern South African society before you carry on your high horse.
You still haven't answered the question about whether or not you have a registered wikipedia account that you are purposefully not using to edit this article. Mycelium101 (talk) 09:06, 27 June 2015 (UTC)

You made it now quite clear that you have a political and ideological POV here. Cultural relativism is a point of view, it is not a basis for verifiable, rational and scientific information. Instead it is an ideological premise, which, when applied to subjects like faith healing, can seriously skew what is real, verifiable and scientific and mislead uninformed people. With harmful consequences to human health. That is a position that an encyclopedia cannot take. There are other outlets for culturally relativist and holist medical "science", but an encyclopedia is not one of them. You have not produced one single study, not one, to support any of the claims of faith healing working made in the article. Your attempt at one, this,:, as anyone can read, is an overview, not a study, not a study reviewed and accepted in a high quality medical paper. It doesn't verify anything, it describes. There are no such studies adding up to verifiability on faith healing, talking to dead ancestors or on herb enemas. That is not a high horse, it is not racism, it is only what is scientific, rational and based on verifiability. The standards we have to apply here. Culturally relativist opinions pieces and overviews are not acceptable sources of information on serious questions of health as per WP:MEDRS.
This talk I think has come to its end. All claims of faith healing working, that could mislead uninformed South African readers seeking information on the matter, will be removed from the article. This will happen. You have produced no basis for keeping the article in its current form. I think it was fair to talk first and edit later. And we have a conclusion here.
But respecting how culturally sensitive this issue is for you, I of course have nothing against it, that you will try and update the article to the required standards of scientific and rational verifiability in a culturally sensitive way. Tell in a culturally sensitive way that faith healing does not work, and in case of health worries, especially more serious health worries or health worries concerning children, South Africans are better advised and need to see a real doctor and cannot rely on imaginary healing, that will not cure them or their children. You can try and tell that in a culturally sensitive way, if you are afraid that saying it in an insensitive way can hurt and offend people. We can take a long term view here at wikipedia. It's been around for 14 years and many of the articles are still requiring lots and lots of work. There's no hurry here. Let's build this page as a reliable source of verifiable scientific and rational information. It will take a lot of work and will require more contributors. It would of course be ideal, if as a South African, you'd know someone from the science based medical community with a more 'on the ground' feeling and knowledge base to these issues, but firmly on the side of verifiability, rationalism and science.
I added different tags to the article. I hope they will remain. They are not to insult anyone or to demean anyone. They are placed there, as intended by wikipedia, standard tags, to invite people who know about this topic to work on this article. I'll give people more knowledgeable and more sensitive on the topic time to put the article right in a way that will not insult anyone's cultural sensibilities as that seems to be a central concern here. But if in a 4 months time the article is still lacking in scientific and rational verifiability, and if claims of faith healing working are still made I'll edit it myself to the extent that it needs to be edited.
Last comment till then. (talk) 10:28, 27 June 2015 (UTC)
As I've said before, I'm not opposed to adding any material from reliable sources, and I'm not even opposed to working with you to improve the article. I do appreciate discussing this on the talk page instead of edit warring, and I also appreciate your acknowledgement of cultural sensitivities, however I'm also not opposed to adding content that details further issues or complications that arise from traditional healing, that are sourced reliably and I'm happy to work with you for that, if you wish. The article is not meant to state that the power of ancestral healing works, but is meant to state that Sangomas believe in the power of the ancestors to heal. The verifiable part and facts is that sangomas believe it, not that it works. (I think the word belief would be the most commonly used word in the article) If there are areas that come across as factually suggesting that ancestral/traditional healing works, then let me know, and we can discuss and come to a wording that ensures that the reader understands that this is a cultural belief only. The aim of the article was to document the beliefs and traditional practices of sangomas in a neutral manner, it was not meant to endorse nor deny their practice. As a sign of good faith, I suggest taking a paragraph out of the article (leave the lede out for now) and highlight on talk what your concerns are about it. Let's see if we can work together to rewrite that paragraph that suites both sides of the argument, which is what the evolving collaborating nature of WP is designed to do. If we find that we can work together, then we can tackle more complex issues/areas of the article. If not, I'll see you in 4 months.... Start a new section, choose a paragraph, let's discuss it, the concerns and the source and what can be added, and then let's see if we can produce something better than what is currently stated. Mycelium101 (talk) 11:23, 27 June 2015 (UTC)

Removal of article tags[edit]

The tags of this article are being removed for the following reasons :

  • This article is a clear case of WP:OVERTAGGING and the tagger has yet to demonstrate any specific issues with the actual article content based on the tags.
  • The 'unreliable source' tag has been removed for the following reasons :
- The tagger has demonstrated a lack of understanding of the harvard shortened citation notation format used in this article and therefore has assumed that all references are 'obscure'. [33]
- In this entire conversation [34], the tagger has yet to provide one specific reference in the article that is deemed to be an unreliable source.
  • The 'speculation' tag has been removed for the following reasons :
- As this conversation demonstrates [35], the article is clear that it documents the *beliefs* of traditional healers and does not attempt to prove or disprove the beliefs. This article is designed to document the culture and traditional beliefs of traditional healers in South Africa, in an academic and anthropological manner.
- The only 2 instances of concern that were actually raised were rectified [36]
- Based on the conversations above [37], the taggers actions demonstrate that the article was tagged more for reasons of WP:JUSTDONTLIKEIT than of any content dispute.
  • The 'medref' tag is being removed for the following reasons :
- As stated here [38], this article is heavily referenced with sources that conform to WP:MEDRS - The article is linked to national and international bodies such as UNAIDS, WHO & the Treatment Action Campaign. The article is heavily referenced by the leading Professor of Botany in South Africa, Professor Ben-Erik Van Wyk and contains numerous articles that have been published in the South African Medical Journal, the South African Pharmaceutical Journal, The British Medical Journal and various other academic sources, such as the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of California Press.
- Same reasons as discussed in unreliable sources, the tagger does not understand the harvard shortened notation and therefore sees the references as 'obscure'. Mycelium101 (talk) 10:42, 10 November 2015 (UTC)

Loose References[edit]

Not sure why refs are here, but just to keep them out of the way of other conversations, added another section Mycelium101 (talk) 10:50, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

  1. ^ David M Cumes (2004), "'Africa in my bones pp.14
  2. ^ Campbell, Susan Schuster (1998). Called to Heal. Halfway House: Zebra Press. p. 38. ISBN 1-86872-240-6. 
  3. ^ Campbell, Susan Schuster (1998). Called to Heal. Halfway House: Zebra Press. p. 79. ISBN 1-86872-240-6. 
  4. ^ a b c d Ben-Erik van Wyk, Bosch van Oudtshoorn, Nigel Gericke "Medicinal Plants of South Africa" (2009) pp.10
  5. ^ a b c Truter, Ilse (2007). "African Traditional Healers: Cultural and religious beliefs intertwined in a holistic way". SA Pharmaceutical Journal. 74 (8): 56–60.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  6. ^ David M Cumes (2004), "Africa in my bones" pp.10
  7. ^ a b Liebhammer, Nessa (2007). Dungamanzi (Stirring Waters). Johannesburg: WITS University Press. p. 196. ISBN 1-86814-449-6. 
  8. ^ Richter, Marlise (2003). Traditional Medicines and Traditional Healers in South Africa (PDF). p. 8. 
  9. ^ Pretorius, Engela (1999). Crisp, Nicholas & Ntuli, Antoinette, ed. SAHR 1999. Durban: Health Systems Trust. pp. 249–257. ISBN 1-919743-53-7.  More than one of |author= and |last= specified (help)
  10. ^ Hunter (1936). The Function of Diviners. 
  11. ^ Liebhammer, Nessa (2007). Dungamanzi ( Stirring Waters). Johannesburg: WITS University Press. p. 171-174. ISBN 1-86814-449-6. 
  12. ^ Campbell 1998, p. 70.