out of focus, blurry, colorful and very contrasted portrait of a healer from South Africa by Thom Pierce

Sangoma A photography project by Thom Pierce

‘Sangoma’ is the name given to traditional healers who play an important role within many different sections of South African society. In rural communities they are many people’s first port of call in times of need and illness.

Through a combination of prayer, dance and medicine (Muti), Sangoma’s contact the ancestors for advice and prescribe natural remedies for illness, good fortune and physical improvement. To become a Sangoma is not simple. Chosen by their ancestors, the training and initiation can be long and arduous. The work is an emotional and physical commitment which, combined with western medicine, forms part of many people’s healthcare choices.

In recent years, Sangoma’s and institutions of western medicine have frequently worked together to define their separate roles and acknowledge the importance of each other within modern South African society. Sangoma’s are accepted in several denominations of the christian church, their diverse rituals and attire can be informed by their varying ethnicity and religious affiliation.

Monthly Photo Contest

color portrait of an elderly woman by Can Sever
© Can Sever

2022 Visual Storytelling AWARD Deadline: 31 January 2022

The art of visual storytelling encompasses a wide range of possibilities with at its heart, the will to tell a story.

From classic social documentary to imaginative storytelling: this month we are seeking visual artists aiming to captivate; unique voices willing to share their stories with conviction and awareness.⁠

Portrait, street, documentary, landscape: All approaches are valid. Enter now and show us YOUR stories!


1st Prize: $1000 · 2nd Prize: $600 · 3rd Prize: $400

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