Notes of Interviews with Traditional Healers
Kenneth L. Leonard∗
Department of Economics
1 Mbonge sub-division, South West Province, Cameroun 2
1.1 Healer number 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
1.2 Healer Number 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
1.3 Healer Number 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
2 Iringa Rural District, Tanzania 10
2.1 Number 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
2.2 Number 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
2.3 Number 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
2.4 Number 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
2.5 Number 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
3 Old Shewa administrative region, Ethiopia 29
3.1 Number 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
3.2 Number 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
3.3 Number 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
3.4 Number 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
3.5 Number 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
3.6 Number 6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
3.7 Number 7 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
Research funded by NSF grant #94-22768 and a University of California Rocca
1 Mbonge sub-division, South West Province,
1.1 Healer number 1
What are the symptoms or diseases which you treat? Palaber, and poisoning;
Distended abdomen (He asked a young girl of about 4 to come out. He was
treating her for her distended abdomen. More details about this case ahead.);
Stomach Pain (Bellybite) in both men and women; Charms for protections;
Continuous menses; Elephant disease.
What is the procedure for coming for a consultation? No consultation fee
is paid before seeing the doctor. If he decides to take the case (he did not
mention under what circumstance he would refuse to take a case) then he asks
for a cutlass, a hen and 5000 cfa (in this case of the child with the distended
Anyone from another village would live with the doctor, on his compound
(which was not abnormally large), both children and adults. This seems to
imply that all of his cases are treated on a continual “in-patient” basis and
there is no “out-patient” consultation. The child, for example has been here
one week already and the mother is also living on the compound with the
What is the procedure for treatment and how long might it last? He will
not say how long the child will stay on the compound undergoing treatment.
It depends on the strength of the treatment. The payment made, however
does not depend on the amount of time that the child stays. This payment is
determined at the time of consultation and is to be paid if the child gets well.
If she does not get better she can leave, and go to another provider.
Do patients just leave or do you decide that there is nothing that you can
do for them? The doctor will decide that he is not able to cure the disease,
and will often recommend that they go to a hospital, though he does not
recommend speciﬁc hospitals or doctors. Many of his patients come to him
from a hospital or health center where there was nothing that could be done
Are there additional payments at any time during the treatment, for ei-
ther medicines or other services? No, the ﬁrst and last payment, and any
appreciation after the cure are the only payments.
How is the ﬁnal payment made, and does it depend on any particular char-
acteristics of the patient, or the disease? The payment is determined before
the treatment begins. It does not depend in any way on the status or economic
class of the patient. It does depend on the “strength” of the disease. The ﬁrst
payment does not depend on the illness. In the case of the child with the
distended abdomen the payment will be 10,000 CFA when the child is cured.
What are the procedures for collecting the ﬁnal payment? In one case a
gendarme came from Kumba for treatment of poisoned legs. The doctor cured
him, and asked him for the 15,000 CFA (the assumption is that this was an
agreed upon price before treatment began). The gendarme left and did not
make the payment. The doctor expressed great conﬁdence that the gendarme
would be back at some point.
It is in fact quite common that someone would be cured and refuse to
make the payment that was agreed upon. The doctor says that he leaves these
things up to God.
Do you revoke the cure of someone who does not pay, and has not come
back for some time? No. On this point he was adamant. He leaves such
situations up to God. He does not do anything like this.
Can people take credit for the payment of either the ﬁrst payment or the
last payment? Yes. Especially with the last one, since if he does not let them
pay over long periods of time they might not pay at all.
Is the individual examined and treated as only and individual or do you
ask to meet or hear about members of the family? This is speciﬁcally put in
the question of poisoning. Someone has poisoned this person is he concerned
about who it is and what to do with respect to that person? He asks how the
poisoning came about. People know generally who poisoned them and how.
However, this is of no consequence to the treatment. He needs to know only
that it is poison and not why or who.
How many people do you see in one year? He sees about 3 or 4 people a
month on an out-patient basis; people who are within the village. He currently
has 3 people living in his house, which would mean that he sees about that
many a month on an in-patient basis.
How long have you been practicing? He learned the trade from his father,
learning to pick the proper herbs and leaves. He started the trade as an adult.
He is now teaching his children. He uses exactly the same medicine that his
father used and has no problem ﬁnding the same herbs and leaves that his
What are the religious roots of your practice? He had mentioned God many
times and I wanted to know if he viewed his practice in a Christian setting or
an animist one. He is a Christian and it is to this God that he refers when he
speaks of God. Church of Global Frontiers.
1.2 Healer Number 2
What are the symptoms or diseases which you treat? Belly Bite; Barren
Women (if God permits); He can stabilize changing Menses; Headaches (Mi-
graine headaches); He can cure poison, but he is not the popular one in town
for this. They generally go to another healer; Impotency in men; He does not
do witchcraft protections. His father did, he was a sorcerer. (His father left
him some medicines with which he can transform himself into the required
animal to go and get the proper medicines to treat witchcraft. But he does
not use these.); Convulsions
What is the procedure for coming for a consultation? The advance payment
depends on the sickness. If it is necessary that the medicines be cut with a new
cutlass then a cutlass is demanded. Generally a hen is demanded as well. Not
all medicines require new cutlass-es and then he just uses his own, and does
not ask for one. The cash payment can be up to 1,000 CFA for the advance.
Treatment is done on an out-patient basis. He would make a potion for
convulsions, for example, and then send it back with the child. If the person is
cured – in the case of convulsions – then the payment would be an appreciation.
None is required after this point. For a barren woman he would ask for a hen,
a head of tobacco and 2500 CFA. If they conceive then he expects 4000 CFA.
Many people however do not make this last payment. This is more of a problem
with those who come from outside of the area. He does not hex people who do
not pay. He was also very clear about this. He can revoke the cure and bring
back the illness but he does not think this is in the spirit of the cure and he
does not do this. Payment does not depend on anything but the illness.
He will refer people to other doctors, both hospitals and traditional healers.
He has given patients some of his own money (3000 CFA in the case he talked
about) to go to the hospital. In some cases they will come back and in others
they will not and he looses this money.
Is the individual examined and treated as only and individual or do you ask
to meet or hear about members of the family? His father would look into a
medicine pot to determine causes of poisoning and ask the patient to bring
the necessary people to him before he would start the treatment. He would
basically frighten them into leaving the patient alone. He does not do this. He
treats only the individual.
He learned the craft from his father who was a sorcerer. He started when
he was young. He went to work for Pamol (a parastatal palm oil plantation)
for a while and then he came back to the practice. His children are learning
and he would apprentice another child if they came to him. He would ask
10,000 CFA (I assume to be paid during or after the apprenticeship period)
and he would teach the child everything. If the child does not pay, he will
forget everything he has learned. When he does pay the doctor will bless him
The doctor also sells charms against various things. During treatment he
will make protections against those who would interfere with the treatment.
This is part of the expected services provided and his patients do not pay
extra for that. For others he will sell them. A charm which contains whiskey
(I assume that this means that it is a strong one) would cost 10,000 CFA for
Credit? All payments can be made in installments.
He does not use “white-man” medicines but he does refer people to the
hospital. He is Presbyterian. He is not currently working since there has been
no one to see him for a while.
1.3 Healer Number 3
What are the symptoms or diseases which you treat? Liver (with the permission
of God); Fever (all types); Poison (all types); Barren Women; Impotent Men;
Irregular Menses; Witch Craft; Swollen limbs (ﬁlariasis); Eye Specialist; He
does not do bone-setting;
What is the procedure for coming for a consultation? He will turn people
away whom he cannot cure. In some, but not all cases, he will refer these
people to other traditional doctors. He does not refer them to hospitals.
Other traditional healers will send people to him.
Once he accepts a person he asks for a chicken and a cutlass and a cash
payment according to what he is instructed or inspired to charge. It is not
constant, and it does not depend on the status of the person or the symptoms.
This original charge can reach 5,000 CFA.
Everything beyond this initial ﬁrst charge is appreciation. The appreciation
is not required and it can be as simple as a plate of food, or more expensive.
The ﬁrst payment must be received in full before the treatment starts. People
from outside of the village live in the village while they are being treated.
Some will stay in his house.
Is the individual examined and treated as only an individual or do you ask
to meet or hear about members of the family? We was a sorcerer so he has the
capability to ﬁnd out those who have poisoned his patient. He now instructs
the person to return home and reconcile with the person who has caused the
poison. Without this reconciliation he will not treat the person, since it will
not be eﬀective. He will not ﬁght the witchcraft.
He sees about 1 to 2 people a month.
He learned the trade from his father and is teaching his children. He cannot
teach anyone who is outside of the family, since this is family medicine.
He does not have the power to revoke cures. However he was quite adamant
in the fact that he does not revoke cures ever.
He does not go to church but he does believe in God.
He does not refer people to hospitals, he does not use “white-man” medicines.
He receives people from hospitals and they get well.
He can give a protection against poison. He does not give protection against
automobile accidents, though he seemed to imply that other doctors did. He
cannot poison others but he can cure the poison. He would not even like to
know how to poison someone.
He cannot do judgment or trials, the procedure by which you discover a
thief or try to determine the guilt of an individual brought before you.
2 Iringa Rural District, Tanzania
2.1 Number 1
The professor lives in a rather large house which was quite crowded with peo-
ple at the time we arrived. He has a separate building nearer the road which
he uses as his clinic. There were three to four people there when we arrived.
It is a fairly large building and could easily have four large rooms. There was
a sign board out on the road advertising his services.
What are the diseases or symptoms which you treat? All diseases according
to how the patient explains them. He realizes what medicine is necessary
according to this ; Epilepsy; Lunacy; All STD’s; barren women; And bone
setting? No, deﬁnitely not, though he can do bone pain.
Do you decide after meeting the patient whether or not to accept the case?
The patient explains the symptoms then I understand and then I can identify
the herbs necessary. The translator pointed out to me later that this process
of listening described is an actual listening quite unlike the process used in
modern medicine. It seems as if the healer relies on his patient to verbally
transmit most of the relevant information.
Most diseases can take a very long time to cure. The patient must ﬁrst
pay him something so that he can travel to ﬁnd the medicines. He refers to
this as an advance.
Example: Cancer, starts in the leg and joints and moves to the hips. Can
be quite painful and the patient cannot sleep or work properly. The patient
must bring him a hen. He asks which leg is in pain and they remove that leg
from the hen (he didn’t say whether or not the chicken is killed ﬁrst, but I
assume that it is). He went out to ﬁnd a bundle of sticks. Each stick was about
3 inches long and they were tied together in a big thick bundle that looked
like a wheel. Tied with bark. About 1 foot diameter. He said they were roots,
they looked like pieces of split wood. These are boiled in water with the leg
of the chicken for up to 2 hours. This potion is then drunk by the patient
over the course of the next two months until he is cured. In extreme cases the
patient can stay one or two weeks with him so that he can examine them. He
does most of his work on an out-patient basis, but he ﬁnds that when people
leave they often do not follow the prescribed regime very well. He claims they
will drink his potion and then go out drinking beer which destroys it’s power,
so he likes to have them in his house if it is a severe case.
Payment There is the advance which can include a hen and money for him
to travel and get the herbs. 500 - 1000 Tsh. He often sends a boy and was sure
to point out that the boy receives his share of this money. The ﬁnal payment
is decided at the very beginning of the regime. It is only paid if the person
gets well. It can depend on the severity of the illness, the length of time that
someone has been suﬀering, and the status of the individual. When someone
has been suﬀering for a long time and has paid a lot of money here and there
without success the healer knows that he cannot ask much money of them.
He must take care of them for less money. Someone who is poor cannot be
refused either so the payment is lower for them as well. For long term illnesses
he would generally ask the patient to report to him after each month so that
they can monitor the progress of the cure. He lets people pay in installments
over long periods even after they are cured.
Very few people do not pay. He said that if they did not the disease would
return, however he did not ascribe this to an act of his own, simply the way
the diseases worked.
In the case of epilepsy it can take 1 to 2 years to cure. Lunacy can take
only a few weeks. He would ask for 5000 Tsh for epilepsy though he claims
others will ask for 10,000 - 20,000 Tsh or even a cow.
Do you have illnesses which are caused by problems outside of the indi-
vidual, with for example the family and then do you involve the family in the
cure? He does ascribe problems to improperly performed functions in the fam-
ily such as burial. He does not attempt to cure such things. He merely informs
the patient that they must perform a particular function according to custom
before they can be cured. If a parent has been improperly buried the person
will have to slaughter a goat or a cow on his grave. It doesn’t seem that the
healer beneﬁts materially from this act.
How long have you been practicing traditional medicine and from whom did
you learn the trade? He has been practicing this art since 1970. His father was
not a healer. His great grandfather was a healer and the spirit of his ancestors
came to him and instructed him to heal people. He was not apprenticed under
anyone. He is not currently teaching anyone the craft. He has a few boys
working under and around him but he is not yet convinced that they have any
gift. He would very much like to pass on the trade to someone else.
Do you ﬁnd it more diﬃcult to ﬁnd herbs and roots now than it used to be?
He is somewhat surprised by this question and thinks for a while. Yes, some of
the trees which he used to ﬁnd very easily have been uprooted or cut down by
the inhabitants and now he must travel much longer distances to ﬁnd them.
After, over a beer we talked at length about the herbs which he uses. He
is quite enthusiastic about their powers and wishes someone would come up
there and test them to see what medicinal powers they have. The translator
talked about the department in charge of such investigations at Muhimbili.
But the professor said they have only looked at herbs from Tanga region and
they have not shown interest in these. We talked about the various herbs and
the powers they are reputed to have. He has continually been forward with the
herbal side of his practice and reluctant with the “magic” side. My experience
is that there are few truly herbal healers. Everything even around herbs is
steeped in tradition, and ”magic.” A short discussion on snake bites and the
various protections they oﬀer. He says that he knows of a local cure which
involves some herbs introduced into the blood through a razor cut which make
the person smell bad to snakes. Unfortunately that person must not kill snakes
or the potion will not work. This is a suﬃcient deterrent for most people so
they won’t get the potion.
Does the government encourage or discourage your practice? Clearly I in
some way represent the government so I do expect bias in this answer. He says
the government helps healers. He has been to many seminars on these topics
and he enjoys the cooperation between government and healers.
Do you use other types of medicines when those are powerful for curing
diseases? Yes, he uses Arabic medicines and they have very strong powers
against spiritual problems. He buys them from Indian stores. On further
questioning he said that he also uses Western medicines and he buys and
keeps these as well. He does not write prescriptions. He implied that he is not
forthcoming with his patients about whether he is using traditional or western
medicine in their cures. It is diﬃcult to ask this question without forcing an
We talked about the tendency to ﬁnd the cure for AIDS. He says that
there are many healers who claim to have the cure, but he knows they are
all lying and they are not among the reputable healers anyway. He thinks
that if the money which is being spent on research in the west were shared
with them they could really work hard to ﬁnd something among the various
powerful herbs they have. He has done some work with AIDS patients and
though he can alleviate symptoms for up to 3 months he cannot cure them or
permanently alleviate symptoms.
This addresses a concern of mine that healers make people believe they
have been cured when in fact they have not, since this healer does not seem to
consider three months of better health to be cure. He really thinks in terms
of the long run.
He is 59 years old, has 2 wives, 18 children and is Roman Catholic.
2.2 Number 2
A smaller more common compound. Small room which does not seem to be a
What are the illnesses which you treat? Barren Women; Epilepsy; Cerebral
Palsy; Headache; Chest pain; swelling of lower limbs; STD’s: gonorrhea and
syphilis; He does not treat broken bones. He can but patients go to government
centers for this.
Beginning Payment 600, 1000 - 2000 Tsh. Some conditions require a hen.
Treatment begins immediately and continues until the person is cured.
Some conditions require that the person stay at the healer’s home (for
example swelling of the lower limbs) some that they can go (for example barren
women). For some conditions a relative will come and call the doctor to go
and see someone, when they are very sick.
Final payment The payment depends on the patient’s wealth. For poor
patients payment is left open. For others who can pay the payment is agreed
on ahead of time. There are some herbs which need to be searched for and
the healer sends someone to the bush to ﬁnd them and then pays them. The
payment also varies according to the duration. The longer the duration the
more you pay. Then there is appreciation. When asked again what he means
by the length he explains. What he means is that the payment depends on the
severity which is known at the beginning. This is most often correlated with
length of treatment though not always. There are some diseases which are
severe but are short and there are some diseases which are not severe but can
last a long time. Payments are agreed upon after the treatment. This seems
to be a contradiction from his earlier statement, as I pursue it it appears the
second statement is closer to the truth. He says they are cured and they leave.
After some time they agree that they are cured and come back and pay. He
and not the patient is the one who decides to terminate treatment. The patient
and not the healer is the one who decides if the treatment has been successful.
If not they resume treatment or move on.
Do patient’s refuse to pay what he asks? Yes , when this happens he leaves
it up to God.
In the case of family problems. He can solve such problems. There are
methods to determine whether or not it is this type of problem. Depends on
the condition. If they come alone he treats them there, but if there are other
problems in the family he returns with the patient to his home to treat him
there. He can protect those in the family with herbs (protect from the disease
or problem of the one member).
His healing is a gift from God. His grandfather was a healer. Some of his
children will learn the trade.
He uses Arabic medicines to treat evil spirits. They seem to be popular for
this. He does not use western medicines.
He will refer patients to the hospital. They also come from the hospital to
He has been 30 years in the practice and is now 60 years old.
He has no more diﬃcultly ﬁnding herbs now that he used to.
He has good cooperation between the government and himself. He gets
many patients referred to him from the local health center. The implication
here is that the staﬀ at the health center recommend to a particular patient
that they go to see this traditional healer. This implication is born out in
other interviews as well.
He can see no patients sometimes and 10 per day at other times.
They come from many distant places to see him.
do they come for anything in particular? No everything.
Why do they pass other healers to come and see you? No particular reason,
but they see many healers and if they do not have success with one they
continue on to another.
He is Roman Catholic
2.3 Number 3
He treats: Diarrhea with blood; Blood problems; Chronic headache; Chronic
Malaria; Giddiness with loss of consciousness.
All payments are based on appreciation, whereby there is no agreed upon
payment either in the beginning or the end. The patient simply pays what
he wants to pay. He accepts what he terms a ”reward” in the very beginning,
better called an incentive I think.
If they come from a long distance then they can stay with him. Otherwise
it would seem that he treats on an out-patient basis.
The duration of the treatment can be one month or one week. The ﬁnal
payment is only an appreciation which will depend on thankfulness. There are
many who leave without making any payments. There is no payment during
the treatment for medications.
Family problems He refers to inherited diseases which is not what I was
getting at. Very few of the healers understand at all what I am talking about
here. After further questioning he says that there are problems of improperly
done rituals, or bewitching. This can also happen from poor handling of herbs.
But the patient will tell the healer what the problem is. He does not deﬁne
He learned the skill from his grandfathers. None of his children are learning
yet (they are still young). His ability to heal is a gift from the Arabs and his
ancestors. He uses both traditional and Arab medicines and skills. Diﬀerent
problems require diﬀerent treatments. He is practicing a mixture of local
traditional medicine and Islamic traditional medicine. The healer is generally
a respected member of the religious community and performs a function in the
He receives instructions in his sleep from two people. Implication that
one is Arab and the other is one of his ancestors. As he says this he laughs,
nervously, or out of embarrassment. He is Muslim but he treats everyone.
However when we go out later for a drink he orders a beer, so I don’t know
how serious he really is or whether customs are very lax here. He does not
order it directly but mumbles under his breath that he wants a beer and the
translator then orders for him.
He can see up to 10 patients a week. Patients come from all over. People
regularly come to collect him to have him visit patients in their villages. He
has 5 children and one wife. He does all of the work of collecting herbs himself.
He does use western medicines both for himself and for his patients.
2.4 Number 4
49 years old. He was bared from the Roman Catholic Church for his practice
of traditional medicine. This is by far the poorest or simplest compound we
have seen among the traditional healers.
What are the illnesses which you treat? infertility; epilepsy; psychoses;
Regarding the procedure when someone comes to visit you, Do you physi-
cally examine the patient? He uses three separate methods to determine what
the problem is: 1. He has a “headboard” which he places on the ﬂoor and then
pushes by putting pressure on it with his hands from the middle. The action
of the headboard then gives him his answers. 2. He has a bottle ﬁlled with
sea water which he shakes. 3. He wears a necklace of beads and cowrie shells
and then sleeps and when he wakes he will have determined the problem.
Do you rely on the patient to explain their problems? In fact he does not
even need to see the patient. He can base his diagnosis on the explanation of
Are there cases in which the patient explains his illness in one manner and
you realize that the problem is really something quite diﬀerent? For example,
a person might complain of chronic illness when they have failed to bury a
member of their family properly? Though this question was not asked the
answer was an implied yes, from his answer to the previous 2 questions. The
divining procedure is to ﬁnd out the true cause of symptoms. There can be
quite a degree of discontinuity between illness and symptoms.
Once you have met a patient and agreed to accept their case, is there any
payment which they make at this point? 200 to 300 Tsh
Cash or other objects for example a hen? In the case of infertility a hen is
brought and slaughtered. He then uses the ﬁrst egg that hen has even laid to
make a potion for the patient to drink. It is not clear whether he needs both
the hen to slaughter and the egg or whether in some cases he needs one and
in other cases he needs the other.
How long does the typical treatment last? 1 to 2 months
What is an example of a short treatment and how long does it last? Swelling
of the limbs : 5 days
What is an example of a long treatment and how long does it last? Epilepsy
: 6 months
Do patients stay here with you during treatment or do they take their
medicines and go home? Those who are seriously ill will stay with him at
his compound. He has a separate compound from his living quarters where
he keeps his medicines and if the patients are mentally ill they will stay there
(there did not appear to be adequate living space there – shelter – so I don’t
know how this was done). He doesn’t want the mentally ill to disturb his chil-
dren. Patients who are not quite as ill would return home during the treatment
and come to see about twice a month.
Is it more diﬃcult to treat a patient who is staying at home? Do you ever
speak to members of the family to help you in caring for the patient, especially
in cases in which the patient is very sick? Those who understand well can go.
If he feels they will not understand or follow his instructions well he will have
them stay with him.
Do you ever visit patients in their home? When? Yes he will follow patients
home. Especially when he is expecting them and they do not come, he will go
and ﬁnd them to ensure that everything is OK.
Once they are well how do they pay you? 2000 - 3000 Tsh; epilepsy 3,000;
barren women 5,000; Then there is appreciation beyond this. (He has a very
long term deﬁnition of being cured: for example in the case of a barren woman
who can bear a child he does not expect payment until the child has reached
7 years old. If the child dies before this then he has failed in this cure.)
Has this payment been agreed at the beginning of the treatment or do you
discuss it only at the end? Beginning.
What are the various factors which can eﬀect the amount of payment which
you would expect? Economic status? Yes ( a poor person would pay only a
hen). Severity of disease? yes. Length of time suﬀering before coming? no.
Number of other healers or doctors already visited? no.
How do you collect the ﬁnal payment can people pay after a period of time
or by paying in small pieces? Sometimes it can take up to a year to pay him.
Does anyone ever leave without paying? Yes, more from those who have
traveled a distance. There are a few from the village who do not pay, but this
What do you do when they do not pay? If the patient has the money he
takes them to a traditional court of law. If they are poor he leaves it.
Does the disease return? Not automatically.
Can you poison such a person? Yes, he has herbs to make them sick again
if they do not pay.
Are there cures which involve other members of the patient’s family? By
this I mean are there diseases which are caused by problems in the family and
how does the family get involved in curing such diseases? Not in the sense
of inappropriately followed customs. However he can make an herbal potion
which will make an alcoholic no longer want to drink alcohol. The wife or
eldest son of such a man would come to see him and he would make the herbs
for them to take as well as for him.
Do you get involved in educating people about ways to improve their health?
Do you think vaccinations which are given at dispensaries are useful? Yes,
all of his children are vaccinated.
Do you ever give injections or cut the skin to administer drugs? Most
cures require only drinking. Curing the bewitched requires that the potion be
introduced directly into the blood.
Besides herbs, do you use other types of medicines, such as Arab medicine?
Do you use western medicine? No.
Do you feel that the government helps you or hinders you in your work?
He had a license but he let it go because he didn’t get very many patients. I
got the impression he believed the license would aid him in attracting patients
and discovered that it did not. He did not appear to see any other reason to
have a license.
Do you cooperate with the staﬀ at the local dispensary? Yes. He receives
many referrals, especially mental illnesses, dehydration, and low haemoglobin.
Do you refer patients to the dispensary? yes. Does the dispensary refer
patients to you? yes.
How many patients do you see in one week? 1 per month come to his place.
Where do they come from? He often goes to Morogoro and other big places,
where he has been taken by family members of the ill and then he will treat
other people while he is there. The implication is that he sees more patients
in this manner.
How did you learn the trade of being a traditional healer? His grandfather
and grandmothers were traditional healers. He learned the trade from his
father. It seems that they always attribute the “gift” to those relatives, parents
who are dead, not to those who are alive. When asked who taught them then
they mention the father.
Do you see it as a skill or a gift? It must be a gift from God.
Are you planning to teach your children? They are still young but he would
like them to learn.
Are there many traditional healers who are women now? Not like there
used to be.
Would you teach one of your daughters? It depends on the interest of the
What types of illnesses do women healers treat? Is it diﬀerent from the
types treated by men? No, they are good though at barren women and epileptic
children who have not been burnt. He explains that there is a belief that if
an epileptic child has been burnt he can no longer be cured. It is not clear
whether or not someone else would be able to cure a child in this condition.
2.5 Number 5
76 year old, Muslim in practice since 1927 (means he would have started at
What are the illnesses which you treat? Polio; Convulsions; Kwashikor;
Cancer; Not fractures, but bone diseases; Cerebral Palsy.
Regarding the procedure when someone comes to visit you? Do you physi-
cally examine the patient? Some of the cases are obvious (polio), Children are
harder to diagnose.
Do you rely on the patient to explain their problems? Yes
Once you have met a patient and agreed to accept their case, is there any
payment which they make at this point? He does not expect anything in the
beginning. The local RMA is with us and both the translator and myself are
under the impression that almost all of these answers are designed to please
someone, either me or the RMA, so I don’t know how much we can trust all
of these answers.
How long does the typical treatment last? 2 to 3 weeks for an adult.
What is an example of a short treatment and how long does it last? 2
What is an example of a long treatment and how long does it last? 2 to 3
Do patients stay here with you during treatment or do they take their
medicines and go home? They stay at his place.
Do you ever visit patients in their home? Yes, sometimes.
Does anyone ever leave without paying? People always pay at least 1000
Tsh or a hen.
Are there cures which involve other members of the patient’s family? By
this I mean are there diseases which are caused by problems in the family and
how does the family get involved in curing such diseases? Yes, he goes to the
family for help in understanding the diﬃcult problems.
Do you get involved in educating people about ways to improve their health?
Yes, for childhood diseases he gives health education to the parents or the
family. He attended a seminar on traditional medicine where he learned these
things. He tells them that polio is a contagious disease, Kwashikor is a food
problem. He then goes on to describe what he tells parents of children with
Kwashikor. He really doesn’t remember that well and is continually looking
at the RMA for support. I cut him oﬀ by saying I understand. I don’t really
believe this stuﬀ. I think that these traditional healer seminars are a very
illustrious thing for healers to attend and he thinks that either the RMA or I
will have some power over future invitations and is telling us what he thinks
will help his cause the most.
Do you think vaccinations which are given at dispensaries are useful? Yes.
Do you ever give injections? No, just rubs the herbs when introduction
into the blood is necessary.
Besides herbs, do you use other types of medicines, such as Arab medicine?
Do you use western medicine? No.
Do you feel that the government helps you or hinders you in your work?
They appreciate him.
Do you cooperate with the staﬀ at the local dispensary? yes.
Do you refer patients to the dispensary? yes.
Does the dispensary refer patients to you? yes.
How many patients do you see in one week? 6, 8 10.
Where do they come from? Everywhere. He is seen as a specialist especially
What is the strangest or most interesting case you have ever had? A case
of polio in which the child who could not move is all of a sudden beating his
chest and then proceeds to drink 20 liters of water. All this is before he starts
He learned the trade from his grandfather and father. All of his children
are learning, boys and girls. He does not see himself in an Islamic role at all.
3 Old Shewa administrative region, Ethiopia
Interviews with the last 3 healers were conducted by Daniel Phinheas and the
record is from his notes.
3.1 Number 1
A 45 year old Islamic Kembata man.
At the beginning of the interview I am informed that he has two medicines
which he makes.
One is a medicine which counteracts the eﬀects of the ziley a worm which
can bite when one is digging with bare hands in the dirt. It usually bites the
ﬁnger and has poison, which if not counteracted, can lead to the loss of the
ﬁnger. The other is a medicine which can purify meat which is suspect. Usually
the animal has died from an accident and has not been properly slaughtered.
People would not generally eat this meat without taking some safety measures.
When asked about payment he says he accepts none at all. I then ask if
he treats people from outside of the village and he says that he does. I say
that I ﬁnd it hard to believe that he does not ask for at least a gift from
such people. At this point he says that indeed he does charge everyone for his
medicines. He grabs a small bunch of grass in the ﬁngers, swirls his ﬁngers
like he was stirring a liquid and drops the grass. This gesture is interpreted to
me with the approximate words, I prepare the medicine over the money which
they have brought, implying that the swirling motion has taken place over
the coins which have been brought for him. This gesture was to be repeated
by all of the four healers I interviewed in this area and I took it to mean
that medicine is never given without the proper payment given at exactly that
moment, and money is never given without the medicine being ready. A true
He charges 20 centimes for the anti ziley potion and 1 birr for the medicine
for the meat.
He learned the meat potion from his father and the ziley one from his
mother. He will teach his children but he believes that if he teaches too many
people the potions will loose their power. He claims to be the only one around
who knows these two potions. I forgot to ask how many patients he sees in one
week. But I heard from Damen later that he is not one of the more respected
healers in the area. He is a polio victim and walks on his hands, while dragging
3.2 Number 2
Midwife and traditional healer; A female Kembata, protestant, 60 years old.
We visit this woman at her house. She is glad to see us and has her daugh-
ters begin to prepare us food. We are conducting this interview through one
English to Amharic translation and then one Amharic to Kembata translation
and back. Two men are trying to help in the later translation and at times
it is confusing. Terfesa (the English to Amharic translator) is aware of this
confusion and attempts continually to keep it to a minimum. I believe that in
this interview he succeeds.
About the midwife part of her practice: When do people come to see you?
She visits people when the time to deliver has come or when there is an emer-
gency. The family will come to her and call her. If it is far they might send
a horse for her to come. She now continues to talk about the preparation
of hot water, washing hands, clean razor etc. I believe she has learned that
these things are encouraged by western medicine, however I have no reason
to believe that she does not in fact do these things. Her skills come to bear
especially in arranging the baby if it is not in the proper position. She uses
butter and hot water (externally) and often that is just necessary is to calm
the woman. She can abort as well. The implication is that if the baby dies in
the womb, this might be necessary. She mentions the case of twins and says
that she can abort one without harming the other. I investigated whether or
not there was a strong fear of twins in the area, and although they are not
favored I don’t believe there was any reason to believe she would abort a live
fetus in the case of twins. What I took this to mean was that she could abort
when only one of them died. Clearly she performs early term abortions as well,
but I did not investigate the circumstances. If she believes that a pregnancy
is beyond her capacity she will advise that the person go to the hospital. No
elaboration of circumstances.
Prenatal Care? If a woman is concerned, or sick she will visit the midwife
before term. If it is a ﬁrst birth or the woman has a past history of problems,
she will visit as well. Menstruation during pregnancy was mentioned speciﬁ-
cally as a problem. She laughed a little about the nervousness of women giving
birth for the ﬁrst time. Her standard charge is 5 birr. Appreciation is usually
from 15 to 20 birr.
Other treatments Abortion, two types from roots and from fruits; Buda
relief from many diﬀerent curses; Urinary Tract Infection; “Rainbow” liver
problem; Food in the nose from eating too fast; In the case of barren women
she can cure them if the problem is from an improperly cleaned womb.
She uses the following diagnostic procedure for buda: She listens to the
patient and, as she says, sometimes she knows the problem is not what the
patient is saying. In this case she prepares a medicine and puts it under the
nose of the patient. Then the patient smiles and then drinks the potion. At
this point the patient will start speaking quickly and will give the names of
the people who have cursed him or her. It is a sort of truth serum.
There is no advance. The medicine is given in only one dose and the person
pays at this point. She was adamant that her medicine never, absolutely never,
fails to deliver.
Abortion 5 to 12 birr for the poor 50 - 70 birr for “those who have property”;
Budano payment 2 to 5 birr; She does not get gifts in this department. She
learned the herbal skills from her father. She learned midwifery by practicing
moving the children on herself. People laugh when I ask who she learned
midwifery from. She learned the abortion medicine from woleta sidamo, for
which she paid. She is not teaching anyone and claims that no one has asked.
However her sons know all the herbal medicine and their wives know all the
She sees 3 to 7 people a week and has been practicing for 40 years. If
people are referred to the Awasa hospital for delivery they will instead come
3.3 Number 3
Woman Healer, Moslem, Gurage (silte’), 60 years old.
Her main practice is as a midwife. She also treats a liver disease which is
refereed to as “disease of birds”.
On the practice as a midwife: She only helps to deliver the child. She
does not do pre-natal care. There is no cash payment for her services however
people always give her a gift of butter and other food (which can be valued
at between 3 and 5 birr perhaps). Nothing else is given. I have moved to
this question much too quickly. She is very nervous and reluctant. There are
two men helping to translate the Amharic into Gurage and this is causing
confusion. As well there are at least three women around trying to answer for
her. At this point I try to comfort her by backing oﬀ of the questions about
money, but I think it is poorly translated and it doesn’t help. So the English-
Amharic translator chases everyone away and we gradually regain control of
the interview and the woman’s conﬁdence. But for part of the interview she
is literally facing exactly away from me, presenting only her back.
Anyone who is born by her help considers her as a second mother. As they
translate it, anything they would think to give to their mother they will also
give to her. During celebrations or anytime they come back to visit they will
give something. This is not true of the women who have delivered with her
help, nor is it true of women of child-bearing age. The client is the child, not
the mother. She sees 2 to 3 patients a week for delivery
As for the other potion which she can prepare: People come to her almost
as to a pharmacist. They know what they want and they just demand that
medicine. If they have already visited modern medicine they will need two
doses, otherwise they need only one dose. They pay 5 birr and they get the
medicine and leave. In the case in which they need two doses, if they are a
relative they would pay only once otherwise they would pay twice, once each
time they come. She gives out the medicine only on Wednesday and Saturday
so people must come on that day. She sees 4 to 10 people a week.
Teaching: She teaches many people to be midwives. Anyone interested
in following her on her rounds basically. All her children have learned how
to make the other medicine. Only her children however. She learned from a
woman who came to visit her as a guest. One of her boys was sick and the
woman taught her how to make the medicine to cure him. She sometimes
does make exceptions for poor people in terms of payment. She once referred
a woman to the hospital whom she could not help.
3.4 Number 4
45 years old, Moslem, Silte (Gurage), Male.
He cures only Kitre (stomach ache); Someone will come to him and they
tell him what they need (the potion basically) and whether it is for a young
or an old person so that he can determine the proper dose. He will refuse
patients who are weak since the medicine he prepares is very strong.
Payment is exchanged at the time the medicine is given. They come to
him and tell him they need the medicine and he tells them to come back once
it is prepared. The payment is 5 birr for those who have traveled very far and
2 birr for adults from nearby and 1 birr for children from nearby. They take
the medicine and within half an hour they vomit. If they have come from very
far he will send the medicine home with them.
The payment varies only with adult-child and distance. His father used to
charge 50 cents and he upped it to 2 birr. He considers this so reasonable that
he does not give a lower price even to poor people.
No one gives annual payments or gifts of any kind.
He uses only herbs.
He sees 3 or 4 patients a week. During the holidays (since people eat more
meat and this increases the incidence of the particular disease) 10 people a
He learned his skills (he sees it as a skill not a gift) from his father. He has
taught his wife and he will teach his children.
3.5 Number 5
63 years old, Orthodox Christian, Oromo, Male, 35 years of practice. He is a
Debtera (Religious Scholar) and Yemedhanit Awaqi (Herbalist).
What conditions do you treat? Buda (evil eye); Stomach ache; wounds
which fester and ooze puss; VD; epilepsy (seizure); asthma; devil possession;
mitch; insanity caused by eating poisoned food or drinking a poisoned drink.
(Mitch is a disease which is contracted when one eats fat and goes outside
and is seen by a person who gives you the evil eye and you are cursed.)
He consults the patient to determine the cause of illness. He will physically
examine the patient and listen to his explanation and meet with other family
members. When a patient who needs examination like for problem of buda
comes he feels the patient’s whole body, takes his pulse and temperature (with
the hand). For instance, when a person with problems of buda comes and
can’t stand or sit properly because often it throws them and they don’ t want
him to touch them, he wants a family member or members to hold the patient
fast so that he can examine him. He immediately knows the person who has
problems of buda by feeling the person’s pulse and blood pressure. Wide
open eyes is one of the symptoms. First, he burns the medicine and forces
the patient to inhale the smoke (often a family member helps him in holding
the patient fast). Then the buda discloses his or her name where and why he
or she attacked the patient. Then by reciting some verses from the spiritual
books he breaks the power of the spirit and exorcises the spirit. Second, he
applies a solution to their body Then, he prepares a concoction, ﬁlters the
solution, puts some honey and butter (to make the solution drinkable). The
patient then has to drink this medicine at least for three days. If he isn’t cured,
he should drink the medicine for 7 days, sometimes even more. Since there
are some herbs which are dangerous he is very cautions and careful about the
dosage of the medicine he gives to the patients.
The dosage depends on the age and on the seriousness of the disease. Sex
doesn’t count. After he has cured them, successfully exorcized the ’buda’: He
then writes magical phrases from the spiritual books he uses for this purpose
on a piece of paper. He then sews the paper into an amulet on the end of a
string which he gives them to wear around the neck. This is done to fend oﬀ
the spirit of the buda so that it can’t come back to the patient again. He does
this because the patients, after they are cured, want some kind of assurance
that the problem of buda doesn’t recur.
He will refuse a patient when it is beyond his ability.
Typical payment is cash between 5 to 20 birr. He does not accept payment
in kind (he objects to payment in kind).
A short treatment might last only 7 days. A long one 30 days. It doesn’t
depend on the type of illness, some cases are just longer than others.
Sometimes patients stay and sometimes they go home. In some cases the
patient only feels the pain at a speciﬁed time. He urges the patient to stay
with him so that he sees the symptoms for his own.
If they return home (with the medicine) they will return every 7th day
until they are cured. It is not more diﬃcult (provided the patient heeds the
instructions). The assumption is that it is now the patient’s responsibility to
keep to the instruction. He will have family members help him. He instructs
them what to give the patient and what not, when and how. If the patient
is very sick and can’t come, he depends on the information he gets from his
relations. He gives them the appropriate medicine, so that they give the patient
the medicine as instructed by him. But there are some instances for example
when he knows the patient or the patient’s relatives intimately, he might visit
the patient at his home at the request of the relatives. Otherwise he fears for
his life. He fears that some of the spirits might try to kill him and he feels
protected from this when he is in his home.
Patients do not pay for the medicines as they are given. Nor do they
make any payments during treatment. In almost all cases the payment is at
the beginning and can vary depending on status, severity of the disease, the
length of time suﬀering, the number of people already visited and the origin.
The ﬁnal payment is usually the ﬁrst payment. In some cases poor people
can pay either at the next harvest or after a speciﬁed period of time if they
make an oath by the archangel Michael ﬁrst.
There are very few instances of someone leaving without paying but if they
do he prays and then they return and pay him, sometimes even more than
what they originally owed.
People do not pay him when they are not sick. He does not get involved in
health education. He does not give injections. He uses herbs and magic scrolls.
He does not use western medicine but he does use some Arab medicines. People
have come to him because western medicine has failed, so he would have no
use of it. He buys some sort of dyes from Arab shops in Addis. There are
7 types of dyes which come from abroad. He blends these dyes with herbs
according to the instructions to make medicines.
The government as a whole neither helps nor hinders his work. They used
to hinder it but now they don’t even bother with what he does. He does
cooperate with the staﬀ at the local dispensary. If he feels it is beyond his
ability he sends the patients to a conventional medical care unit. But often
the patients come to him with a claim that western medicine has failed to cure
them. Those who know his ability send their patients to him. Some health
staﬀ even advise their patients to try a traditional healer. He also sends his
patients to be treated by holy water in addition to his own medicine. If his
medicine runs out he will send the patient to another debtera with a letter.
They send patients to him when it is beyond their knowledge or ability.
He sees 2 to 5 patients a week; both local and distant. He specializes in
buda and Asthma.
He strongly believes his skills are a gift from God. He also told me that he
even sees revelations in which God himself shows him which herbs to use and
how to prepare the medicine. He learned from other scholars. He both paid
them and served as servant while staying at their place for about 2 months.
He said that it is a very diﬃcult process learning from other healers. They will
show him how they cure a patient with asthma say and then show him one of
the herbs they use. But this herb alone is useless so after trying it he has to
come back and beg and beg to learn about another herb. This can go on for
months until by trial and error he has put together the right combination to
cure one thing. He is still undergoing this process.
He is not teaching anyone. He wouldn’t like to teach his children because
he fears that they will be harassed by the government as he was and they
might not be as good as he is and he also fears some spirits might harm them.
He isn’t harmed because he is a man of prayer. He would accept someone from
outside of his family as a student. They would pay him and serve him while
learning. He would teach a girl. The manner in which his teachers charged
and his manner is the same only the amount is diﬀerent.
3.6 Number 6
35 years old, Orthodox Christian, Oromo, Male The practice is known by the
name of Bale Wukabi (A spirit medium)
He treats paralysis, Buda Jinni, Demon-possession, seizure (epilepsy),
liver disease (yowef beshita; breaks spells ; those who are sick or in a crisis
or bad condition because of failure to obey and give oﬀering to the Wukabi
which their forefathers were doing and barrenness
The treatment for epilepsy: the patient is instructed to wear around the
neck a rope on which someone was hanged.
People do visit when they are not sick: When they are in a diﬃcult situation
or when misfortune befalls them and they want to ﬁnd out if there was any
solemn promise they’ve made to a Saint or God and breached unwittingly or
failed to give their votive oﬀering. They also come when they have marriage
problems. They come to him when someone else did them wrong and they
want him to cast a spell on them or curse them. So that when things go astray
they come to him and beg him to break the spell promising to pay the wronged
party full retribution and settle the matter peacefully.
Can you help people with problems of buda? Yes.
He does consult and he does not physically examine the patient. He does
not rely on the patient to explain his problems. He wants to know both the
problem and its solution from the Gragne Aba Gugsa (the wukabi)
To determine the problem his wife, himself, and others come together and
chew chat, pray (hadra) recite and call the spirit (Aba Gugsa) in. Then the
patient screams in a loud voice. He then holds the patient by the forehead,
spits on him, exorcises the buda, sprinkles blessed water on him. If the
calicha didn’t come on him when the patient screamed, instead of casting out
the buda he asks the buda to give him time and to do him no harm.
He accepts everyone seeking help from the wukabi. But there are instances
in which the wukabi says this is incurable (for example when it is from God).
Then he tells the patients indirectly that they won’t get well and sends them
He does not accept payment in the beginning. He does not say pay me this
much. The wukabi wouldn’t allow that. They pay when they are well and as
much money as they can on their free will. Often when patients come, they
bring chat, but this is also on their free will.
What is an example of a short treatment and how long does it last? Buda,
Jinni likift cured in a matter of minutes
What is an example of a long treatment and how long does it last? If the
patient has been sick for a long time it can take 3 days maximum for buda.
Do patients stay here with you during treatment or do they take their
medicines and go home? Normally they come to his place every Thursday
and spend the night there. If they are cured they go, if not they return the
following Thursday. He does not visit them in their homes and treatment takes
place at his house.
Regarding payment? Payment can depend on the wealth of the individual,
the severity of the disease, the length of time they have been suﬀering and
how far they have come from. It can also vary according to the will of the
patient and poor patients would be expected to pay less, though it is their
will. People will even buy him clothing when they are well. Since no payment
is required, no one will leave without paying.
Would people ever pay you when they are not sick, a tithe or annual pay-
ment? Annually on October 19th, the feast of Saint Gabriel he slaughters a
bull or cow or sheep (according to the instructions of calicha) and prepares
a feast to which he invites people. But his awilia doesn’t instruct him to ask
for some sort of oﬀering or tithe.
He doesn’t get involved in health education, nor does he doesn’t give in-
What are the kinds of things you use as medicines? Magic Scrolls. i When
someone does some harm on someone else they come and ask him to put a
spell or curse on that person. After the curse they suspend a coin or put a
needle on a wall. This is done so that the curse may come to pass. Then when
this curse comes into eﬀect the person who has done the cursing will come
to him to beg him to break the curse and make peace between the two. He
doesn’t use western medicine. Because his work is spiritual he does not give
nor prepare medicine.
He feels that the government at large hinders his work. He refers patients
to the local dispensary but they do not refer patients to him. He also sends
patients to be treated with holy water at church. He also sends patients to be
treated at other bale wukabis and they send patients to him.
He sees 5 to 10 people a week, but since they come and go at night unnoticed
there can even be more. His wife, who is instrumental and present in the seance
says that it is about 5 to 10 people. They come from Assab, Dire Dawa, Naziret
His art is a gift.He didn’t learn from anyone. The wukabi rested on him
and then he began the practice. It cannot be taught but the wukabi doesn’t
discriminate between male and female.
Since the wukabi is hereditary the manner in which he accepts money and
the manner of his forefathers is not diﬀerent. It is the same wukabi.
3.7 Number 7
The ﬁrst page of notes from this interview has been lost.
Often the wukabi instructs cancer patients to be treated with holy water
at the local St. John or God the Father Church.
People who have problems with their marriages, those who suﬀer misfor-
tune and are in a ﬁnancial crisis and those who want to ﬁnd out if their
fore-bearers were involved in the practice come to her seeking her wukabi’s
help. The wukabi then tell if they wronged someone else and need to com-
pensate or do penance, if they were cursed of if there was any engagement in
their family in the practice. If there was any involvement she then orders the
person to call their relatives to bind the wukabi to the family.
When people with problems of buda come to her, Wednesdays and Fridays
are the days she does hadra. She chews chat, beats a drum and screams with
a hoarse strange voice. When a person with problems of buda cries, her
wukabi then casts out the buda and commands him or her to make an oath
by the name of a Saint, angel or God not to attack the person any more.
She then gives the patient boiled chat to drink. The reason she said she
gives her patients Daiya is because it was blessed by the renowned bale
wukabi in the country who was known through-out Ethiopia as ‘The Lady of
Arsi’ (Ye Arusiwa Emebet).
Normally those who seek help from her wukabi don‘t have to explain their
problems because the wukabi knows both the cause and the antidote to their
problems without being told.
If somebody curses someone else using her wukabi name and eats with that
person afterwards the curse will be on the one who put the curse instead of the
one being cursed. In such instances the one who puts the curse comes to seek
help from her wukabi then she calls both of them, they put 7 ten cent coins and
do aye (spit on each other) as a sign of forgiveness and reconciliation. Then
the person who puts the curse gives 10 birr to the wukabi as compensation.
It is advisable that patients stay with her until they are cured. If they go
home and don’t come as often as they should they won’t get cured.
When farmers have problems with their oxen or experience crop failure
they make a solemn promise to her wukabi to bring one tenth of their crop
yield when their problems are no more and bring tithes every year from their
She says that even some civil servants and merchants bring tithes to her
wukabi. In the month of April (Miazia she slaughters one white sheep and
one white sheep with black dots as a sacriﬁcial oﬀering to her wukabi.
When she was young plague hit her family. Many of her kinsmen dies.
And she became sick. They began to wonder as to what happened to them
she was taken to a hospital and to traditional healers all to no avail she said.
Then they took her to a known bale wukabi who looked into the past and
told her this story.
An anonymous bale wukabi when on the way to the place his wukabi
was taking him to reside in was met by her great grandfather, a priest. He
and his men then clubbed and stoned him an left him half dead. When the
bale wukabi made a recovery, he put a curse on their family saying, let what
comes hereditarily on me, come on to your children and grand children. Which
is tantamount to saying let my line of generation be yours. And she was told
that because of this curse now his wukabi resides in her.
Then they took her to the famous bale wukabi in which the wukabi of
the late ‘Lady of Arsi’ is believed to have dwelt. There she was heard and
more importantly, won her aﬀection.
On the lady’s death, since she loved her so much, the lady’s wukabi dwelt
in her alongside the former one. She now believes on of her wukabi is a
blessing from the lady tuﬀti and the other a curse.
When I asked her if the tow spirits conﬂict with one another she said they
work in tandem, and more over they are called by one name.