Mangwenya: Demystifying traditional healing practices

MUSICIAN Diana Samkange, who doubles up as a traditional healer, is determined to modernise and demystify traditional healing which many people associate with grotesque and frightening images.

Popularly known as Mangwenya, her totem, Samkange told the Daily News on Sunday at her Harare apartment that gone are the days when traditionalists were synonymous with dirt and an unpleasant aura.

“Five years from now, my products (herbs and other traditional medicine) will be found in local pharmaceutical shops. I am working tirelessly to brand the products and complete paper work with local authorities,” she said.

“The idea is to remove the stigma associated with traditional healing methods. We need to inspire the young generation, enabling them to feel proud of their traditional medicines. This can only be done if the packaging itself is charming.”

Mangwenya’s refreshing approach to the business which not many people would openly talk about has made her a darling of the elite.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. I don’t put on trademark attire for traditionalists when helping my clients. I just look simple and ordinary though I regularly take my snuff (bute). Bute is more of my ‘Bible’. Owing to my casual approach, more and more clients are coming as they feel at home.”

Unlike other enterprising traditional healers who advertise their services in the media, Mangwenya believes spirituality should not be advertised.

“Mine is a gift from God; I do not consider it as a job. I am a musician and a farmer of note. I am surprised with some spiritual healers who advertise their services in the media,” Mangwenya said.

“I help a lot of people in society; the majority of them are the elite but I do not charge for my services. The satisfied clients will come back with testimonies, other clients and tokens of appreciation.”

Mangwenya carved her musical career as an urban grooves artiste before pursuing mbira in 2010; the move exposed her to typical practices, norms and values of the African traditional religion and subsequently established herself as a traditional healer who uses a combination of herbs, medical/religious advice and spiritual guidance to solve people’s problems.

“I do not have problems with Christians as I grew up in the Methodist Church; I respect all the religions in this world but my only concern is when people are forced to do what they do not enjoy because of fear of the society.

“We have freedom of worship in this country and people should just come out in the open with their religions. I know a number of prominent Christians who spent the whole night with us in biras kumapako uko but they publicly attend church services half-heartedly for the sake of society,” the mother of one said.
Samkange’s family has stood as a pillar of her strength, she claims.

“When I embarked on this spiritual trajectory some years ago, some sections of the society alleged that I was possessed by demons but my parents were supportive from the word go.
“Since I embarked on this spiritual voyage, 2019 marks my 10th year without spotting artificial hair as weaves and wigs trigger severe headaches,” she said.   

With four studio albums under her belt — My First Diary (2008), Kumagumo Erudo (2010), Kumaziva Ndadzoka (2012) and Kwayedza (2015) — Samkange has managed to tour a number of countries showcasing her music talent.

“At times, I feel proud to see fans manifesting while I am on stage. Mbira music and traditional songs such as Dzinomwa Muna Save have this healing effect on people,” she said.