Mphutungwane Traditional Healing & Consultation

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Zulu-English Translation pitfalls

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I've been struggling of late to put into a proper English context some of the concepts involved in African Healing.  I will look firstly at two words, Ukubhula/ukuhlola and Amadlozi.  I feel that the common English translations for these concepts (Consulting for Ukubhula/ukhlola and Ancestors for Amadlozi) are inadequate equivalents and leave a lot out of the true meanings as well as adding things which aren't there in other cases. 

Ukubhula/Ukuhlola does not equal consulting 
My problem is that on closer examination, the use of the word consulting implies some kind of a consultitive process which it actually is not. The word which is more appropriate is "check up". 
When you go for a "check up", you are given the facts about your current status (this could be health, finances, whatever you are querying).  In most cases you venture out for what you perceive to be an expert opinion precisely because you feel that something is not quite right.  That is precisely what going to see a Sangoma is about or should be about. 

You go because there is something in your life that you can see/feel is not right or something that you are not quite sure about but are aware that it is not as it should be.  ISangoma is the expert who can see "behind" the physical into the real influence behind each and everyone of us and absolutely everything that happens in our lives.  There are no freak accidents in Africa! Looking beyond the physical is not resticted to looking at Amadlozi only  but also looks at the influence of the living on our lives.  This can be both positive and negative influences.  People always think that someone has to physically do something to bring harm your way, but our thoughts and the words we use against each other is also very important. 

Amadlozi does not equal Ancestor
Generally an ancestor is understood as someone that you are directly descended from if my English is correct.  Idlozi is more complex than just a direct relationship.  The people who look after you could be non blood relatives as well as children of your that have either passed away or through miscarriag/abortion/still birth.  Also the term ancestor limits the extent to which extended famlies can influence ones life.  Again iDlozi is a far broader concept and collection of souls who reside with you.  The closer English word I think is "Guides" although this as well can be a little deceiving in that if iDlozi lakho has issues, their influence can be far from a positive one.

What does all this mean?
For me it means that from now on I will use the Zulu words and leave these definitions in the glossary.  In addition though, it helps me to explain what it means to visit iSangoma and these people that you will hear about who are ever present in your life influencing all manner of thing that you may not have thought possible.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 May 2009 11:12  

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