The role of the medicine men among the Zaramo of Dar es Salaam.

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University of Dar es Salaam
This study of the urban Zaramo sets out to discover how the Zaramo socially and culturally understand and cope with their urban environment. It looks into the factors which facilitate or hinder the transition from traditional cultural life to modern urban society. It seeks to find the forces which guide and motivate Zaramo through this period of urban social change. The research revealed the central role of the medicine man in the urban Zaramo’s life. For this reason the focus was turned on him and his activities in relation to contemporary Zaramo urban society. In order to understand the role of the medicine man among the Zaramo today, 84 traditional medicine men and 9 Muslim clerics were interviewed concerning their therapeutic practices, methods and attitudes. One hundred clients of medicine men were interviewed to find out their problems, the causes, treatments given, payments and attitudes towards traditional medicine. One hundred and fifty Zaramo were interviewed in order to obtain quantitative data on Zaramo knowledge and practice of traditional culture, religion, religion, life cycle rites and medical practices in contemporary urban Dar es Salaam. In addition, some 200 Zaramo were interviewed on specific topics over a research period of five years. The quantitative evidence provided in this study substantiates the fact that the Mganga in his traditional role as healer of illness is well established in urban Dar es Salaam today. More than 700 medicine men are engaged in full time practice in Dar es Salaam and the number is likely to grow, not diminish. Between 8,000 to 10,000 clients are received each day for treatment by the Waganga. Through the situational analysis of numerous case studies and the mass of quantitative data, this thesis provides evidence to substantiate the main hypothesis proposed, that: The Mganga, is a key person in preserving traditional Zaramo culture, continues to function in modern urban society by adapting his role to the changing social conditions of his clientele.
Folk medicine, Zaramo (African people), Medical anthropology, Tanzania, Africa, Mganga
Swantz, L. W. (1974). The role of the medicine men among the Zaramo of Dar es Salaam. Doctoral dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Available at (