For harmony between the living and the dead, vital for a trouble-free life, the sangomas believe that the ancestors must be shown respect through ritual and animal sacrifice.
The Sangoma, or otherwise referred to as a traditional healer are effectively South African shamans who are highly revered and respected. Their importance to the tribe’s community is vital, they fulfill duties from healing physical, emotional and spiritual illnesses, directing birth or death rituals, finding lost cattle, protecting warriors, counteracting witches’ curses, narrating history and most of all – communicating with the ancestors.
During times of celebration or an Initiation the possessed sangoma is called to dance and celebrate their ancestors. The sangoma will fall into trance where the ancestors will be channeled, signified by episodes of convulsive fits, followed by the singing of ancestral songs. These songs are echoed back to the ancestor via the audience in a process of call and response. The possessed sangoma will then change into their traditional ancestral clothing and dance vigorously while others drum.