School of Applied Human Sciences

UKZN Psychology students visit healing village in KZN

Psychology Honours students undertook a fieldtrip to Umsamo Institute, the healing village in Greytown owned by renowned healer, author and poet Dr Velaphi Mkhize. They gained practical experience of the work done in caring for patients who present with different mental illnesses and disorders, including the consultation procedure as well as the different people involved.

The day started with a visit to eMpophomeni (Albert Falls), where the students witnessed the work done by amathwasa (novice sangomas) during the cleansing ceremony for patients.

They then departed for Esigodlweni and were welcomed by Mkhize and his amathwasa.  Mkhize, an initiated man and a spiritualist, is well-known for his illustrious radio career. A teacher at the Institute, visionary and healer, he spent the day teaching students about African values and ancestral wisdom. He traced the links between worlds, realities and mind-sets and showed the students around the Institute to witness its holistic approach to indigenous healing.

Mkhize located Nguni Mediumistic Divination within its socio-anthropological context and from the perspective of a practitioner and perpetual student, observer and advocate of this form of divination. He drew on his own experience of what happened when he received the call and his research on how other healers were called.

Mkhize noted that, ‘Culture is the product of history. It is the sum total of the people’s way of life. Part of our responsibility is to bring back that culture, the culture of people, the culture of an African, Ubuntu and pride about who we are so as to pass it on to the next generation.’

The visit tied in with the students’ study of psychology in an African context, where they move away from learning about mental illness from a Western perspective to examining it from an indigenous one.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Humanities Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize stressed the importance of such visits and noted that they are ‘closely related to practical work and will be repeated every year and used for teaching purposes.’

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