The role of lethuelas/sangomas in Lesotho. “Traditional” beliefs, spiritual professions and Christianity among the Basotho

Agnieszka Podolecka

Abstract


This article investigates the place of lehuelas/sangomas in Basotho society, their vocation, work and relationship with Christian churches. Lethuelas, also called sangomas or shamans, are healers, diviners and/or mediums. Thanks to the country’s mountainous isolation, their vocation and work can be observed in its most primal and unspoilt version, passed down for generations without much influence of outside shamanic traditions or New Age forms of shamanism encountered in other Southern African countries. The article includes the data gathered during the field studies conducted in Lesotho in March 2013 and January 2019 in four regions: the capital city of Maseru (250 000 inhabitants), the Nazaretha/Roma region, the villages and tiny settlements in the western part of the Maloti Mountains, and the Butha-Buthe district in the north of the country.


Keywords


African spirituality, sangoma, lethuela, lingaka, shamanism, healing, divination, ancestral spirits, Lesotho

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References


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