African Journal for Physical Activity and Health Sciences

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Umbilini Experiential Knowledge and Indigenous Healing Praxis in Ukunyanga Tradition

LN Mlisa, P Nel


The study discusses the understanding of amagqirha (diviner healers) regarding the practice of umbilini, a therapeutic skill in ukunyanga tradition. Qualitative data on the maintenance of umbilini was collected from 94 participants including amagqirha, their initiates and clients in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa, using integrated data collection methods. The researcher’s experiences as an igqirha and experiencing other cultures’ healing skills also form part of the discussion. Results indicated that amagqirha, and initiates believe umbilini should be sharpened, awakened and nurtured to sustain its power and effect. Various specific cultural related rituals such as ukuhlamba (cleansing), intlombe (séance), which are birth and initiation rites as well as eating ubulawu were identified as key strategies used to awaken and maintain umbilini. Findings suggest how deep rooted those strategies are to sustaining the power of umbilini. The results invite further studies on the valuable contribution that umbilini could make towards general life wellness and health protection beyond the scope of its employment by traditional healers.

Keywords: Amagqirha, Intuition, Awakening, Umbilini, Sharpening, Ubulawu (Specific Medical Plants Used to Awaken Umbilini), Nurturing, Kundalini

AJOL African Journals Online