Figurative and poetic language in indigenous healing: An African perspective

  • M Makgopa
  • M Koma
Keywords: Praising, indigenous healing, ancestors, ditaola, divination bones.


Praising in African culture and tradition is used to denote identity formations. Through praising, one’s membership to a clan, community, ethnic group or nation can be identified. In the search for a new Africa, praising, which links Africans with their past, is another form of folkloric expression that has a major role to play. This article highlights the significance of the connection that exists between indigenous healing and poetry. Using the case study method, one indigenous healer was identified and requested to participate in this study. Data was collected by using interviewing and participant observation methods. The investigation focused primarily on the different kinds of divination-bone fall spatial arrangements and their interpretations by the indigenous healer. Concept studies approach and hermeneutic analysis were used in understanding and interpreting the data since the authors’ interest was on the interpretation and analysis of usage of figurative and poetic language in indigenous healing. The study found that praising in indigenous healing plays a significant role. Through praising, the problems of the patient are brought to the fore. It was also found that figurative and poetic language is used to praise the divination bones before and after their fall. Praising was also found to be used, in some instances, to refer to the disease that the patient might be suffering from. The different kinds of animal totems and their interpretation are also discussed.

Keywords: Praising, indigenous healing, ancestors, ditaola, divination bones.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1683-0296