Umoya: Understanding the Experiential Value of Traditional African Dance and Music for Traditional Healers


  • Nonkululeko Sheilla Sandlana Department of Psychology, University of Fort Hare, Alice, Eastern Cape, South Africa


From time immemorial traditional African societies have been considered healthy, well integrated and maintaining an enviable degree of social control over their members. People used to gather, share ideas and sing together in an attempt to communicate with the supernatural forces, especially during times of adversity. Western therapeutic approaches do not take into cognisance the spiritual dimension in the lives of the majority of the African population; an oversight on the resourcefulness of traditional African approaches. The aim of this study was to investigate the experiential values of traditional African dance and music for traditional healers using a psychodynamic perspective to conceptualise the study. A descriptive qualitative research design was used and data collection methods included focus group discussions, in-depth interviews and participant observation. The findings revealed that traditional African dance and music offers a safe environment for the release of the unconscious energies. Vibrant music can be thought provoking, heightening the traditional healers’ emotions and spirituality. Furthermore, traditional African dance and music brings the traditional healers closer to their ancestors, enhancing a sense of acceptance, commitment, forgiveness for any disobedience observed, hope, safety and self discovery. The findings brought to the fore therapeutic benefits for the dancer suggesting alternative ways of coping with their difficult life situations.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n3p541


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How to Cite

Sandlana, N. S. (2014). Umoya: Understanding the Experiential Value of Traditional African Dance and Music for Traditional Healers. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 5(3), 541. Retrieved from