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A social history of clients’ perspectives on and use of traditional healing therapies in KwaMashu M Section, KwaZulu-Natal, 1960s-2000s.

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This thesis focuses on the history of traditional healing from the client’s perspective. It does this by examining the perspectives on and experiences of various African men and women who lived in KwaMashu’s M Section in Durban between the 1960s and 2000s. These clients are of different ages, education levels and socio-economic backgrounds. This study seeks to determine what these people think about the value and use of the services of traditional healers and traditional medicines in their community. It also seeks to understand whether their perceptions of and use of traditional healing therapies in this KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) community have changed over time and in what ways. In addition, it examines whether KwaMashu M Section clients have historically adopted pluralistic health-seeking strategies and thus encouraged borrowings across different healing traditions. The research is important as many Africans living in KwaZulu-Natal continue to use traditional healing therapies on a daily basis. This means that it remains a popular alternative to biomedical health care services. Moreover, although there has been much literature produced on the subject of traditional healers, few scholars have worked on the “patient’s view” on this subject. My research contributes to this wider historiography on traditional healing by exploring the voices of clients of traditional healers. It seeks to expand the focus on patients in medical history.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.