As one travels around the city of Gaborone, he/she will definitely not miss the glaring makeshift billboards, or be assaulted by young men and women handing out pamphlets advertising traditional healers who claim to be able to heal each and every ailment and social problem. Their healing powers range from healing heart diseases, impotency and diabetes, to solving social problems like unemployment and marital problems.
What is even more surprising is that these miracle workers are almost always Phd holders from foreign nations. Foreign sangomas have taken Botswana by storm, and embarked on a blistering advertising campaign in which they claim to be able to heal almost every ailment.
The biggest question is whether these sangomas are genuine or just con artists.
In traditional African society, sangomas are regarded as holy and blessed people who have a special relationship with the gods, through which they can bring good luck and cast away evil spirits. They command a lot of respect in the community, and their powers are never questioned. In fact, going to see a sangoma is regarded as a sacred adventure in African society, and sangomas are almost always isolated from the rest of society. But the sangomas of today are completely different, instead of being revered; they proclaim their powers to the public and advertise their ability to solve all kinds of problems.
Foreign nationals have joined the lucrative alternative healing market in Botswana, promising the highly superstitious Batswana heaven on earth.
These Sangomas have taken centre stage and often advertise in newspapers and pamphlets, outdoing each other in a frenzy to woo the gullible and ready to pay Batswana.
“Is your partner cheating on you? Do want to stop it? Do you want to be loved by your partner, to control family matters, and retain your husband? Do you want to make your private parts bigger? No matter how your situation may be, through my strong ancestral powers all is possible, many have been successful through my spell casting and it’s also your chance to experience a complete change in your miserable life, it’s never too late” read one of the advertisements.
Mogoditshane is one area that is highly infested with these sangomas. Many of the residents have visited the sangomas to try their luck, and a number of them shared their experiences with The Telegraph.
One of them, a man who only identified himself as BIG, said he visited a sangoma from Malawi after reading one of his pamphlets. But, he rues they day he went to see the Malawian doctor, because the sangoma disappeared after swindling poor BIG of his money. “I lost my lover, two goats and my money to that man. He was nothing but a fake” said BIG.
Another woman said she took her daughter to visit the sangoma after it emerged that the daughter could not keep a man in a relationship. “She had evil spirits, and all the men that she met dumped her. The sangomas took my P5000 and three goats, and still my daughter is unmarried” she said.
Most of the other residents say that the sangomas never spend a lot of time in one place. After swindling residents of thousands of Pulas, they quietly disappear to seek greener pastures elsewhere.