This study can be described as a journey into the discourse of ‘sangomahood’. It focuses on the narrative of a female sangoma in South Africa and how she experiences her ‘sangomahood’ and gives meaning to it in her specific cultural context. By qualitatively exploring her narrative an attempt was made to understand and illuminate the experiences informing her ‘sangomahood’. This journey starts with an introduction to the two discourses of health namely the dominant, scientific discourse of Western medicine and the alternative discourse of traditional healing. In this part of the journey the historical, anthropological and sociological perspectives on medicine are discussed, as well as the different views of Western medicine and traditional healing pertaining to healers, practices, illness and patients. The methodology and context of the research are then explained. Narrative analysis is used to explore the themes in the sangoma’s narration. The sangoma’s narrative is then introduced by means of five letters that I, as the researcher, write to her. In these letters I also reflect on the difference between her experience and mine, as well as the impact of her narrative on me as a psychologist trained in the Western perspective. This journey was undertaken to create a greater understanding of the culture and experience of ‘sangomahood’. This research also intends to make psychologists aware that the telling of a narrative is never a neutral process and that their clients’ stories always have a certain impact on them, as listeners. Each individual experience is shaped through time, by a specific cultural context which becomes the lens through which people experience and shape the world.
Dissertation (MA (Counselling Psychology))--University of Pretoria, 2008.