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Saturday, March 3, 2018


(Johannes Maswanganye’s “Face of a Sangoma”

Phansi Museum’s first major exhibition of 2018 takes a closer look at the beauty, magnificence and mystery of the art of the izangoma and their role as the healers and conduits to the spiritual world.

The izangoma are considered to be of the most respected members in their communities and play a significant role in the lives of many, probably the majority of people living in South Africa. Equivalent to the same people working in similar fields in the humanities, for example doctors, ministers and priests which are sadly rich with opportunities for quacks, con-artists money-grabbers and naysayers.

Regrettably, most of the research and writing done on the indigenous practices of the izangoma and the izinyanga (herbalist) undermine this mystical art with horror stories of spells, witchcraft and body-parts putting aside that they themselves live in a world of star-signs and tea leaves all the way through to the conspiracy theories of the pharma industry. The art of the izingoma is synonymous with beauty and creativity. With this exhibition, Phansi takes a look at the other side, at the tools of transformation, how beauty can heal, how medicines can repair and how the izangoma guide and direct their patients to believe in their own power and their ability to heal.

At the exhibition visitors will come face to face with magnificent beaded and embroidered textiles, beaded mats and hairpieces and by medicine containers in all sizes and shapes that celebrate their mysterious content with beads and other adornments - all using their own persuasive avenues such as brand names, perfume bottles and money belonging to the other worlds around us.

The isangoma and inyanga, often one and the same person in the community, is the go-to help person when there is something troubling you; be that physical, psychological, fear or pain.

The izangoma are not employed or in business – they are called and this is their art, ubuntuArt – This is their art, ubuntuArt. It is remarkable

The exhibition runs until April 30, 2018. Phansi Museum is situated at 500 Esther Roberts Road, Glenwood in Durban. Contact Sharon Crampton on 031 206 2889 or email or visit