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Tracey Derrick Photographer South Africa


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Noluthando had a dream in which she was called to become a sangoma, 1995.
An initiate will find themselves a sangoma mother or father to teach them, 1995.
Mpepho, a wild herb is burnt - it's heavy smoke travels and makes contact with the spirits, 1995.
Initiates give a celebration ceremony where all sangomas are welcome, 1995.
Sangoma prophesies the future of Noluthando, 1995.
Dancing and singing to drums helps to induce trance, 1995.

Becoming a Sangoma

Dream healing

After I had begun my documentation with the African Zionists, Noluthando who had been a Zionist for many years had a dream – that she could become a sangoma or full time healer. I was then privileged to experience some of the ceremonies and the process of this initiation. The Zionist have always accorded much importance to sangomas and their role as diviners and traditional healers. They act as an intermediary with the ancestors, prophesy and prescribe natural remedies, mixing the role as councillors as well as medical doctors.

I have spent time in Salvador, Brazil in the province of Bahia, where there is the religion Candomblé. This religion has its origins from Africa and was transported by slaves from Nigeria, Angola, Ghana, Congo and Moçambique. Under oppression by the Portuguese colonialists they neither forgot their ancestors nor their gods. They managed to establish and continue altars to their ancestors while blending with the Catholic world. The name of a Catholic saint is generally used with the patron saint of Candomblé.

All three of these religions and rituals are traditionally African – using trancing, prophesy, initiation, purification rites, exorcism of demons – and are all synthesised with the Christian / Catholic notion of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), crucifixion and resurrection. The core of their culture is a circling dance of healers who activate extrordinary powers. Clapping and singing with such precision that they become like an organic being. In this way they face the Gods and their ancestors and turn themselves into strong medicine.

Group exhibitions

*  August 1996 Ifa-Galerie, Stuttgart, Germany.
*  September 1996  Volkskas Atelier National Exhibition, Pretoria Art Museum, Pretoria, South Africa.
*  March 1999   "Afriques", Musee de la Photographie, Belgium.
*  October 1999    Kulturen der Welt, website; artistica.de, Germany.

Solo exhibitions

*  November 1996 "Mois de la Photo" Biennale, South African Embassy, Paris.
*  November 1996 "Mois de la Photo" Biennale, South African Embassy, Paris.
*  April 1997 Association for Visual Arts, Cape Town, South Africa.
*  February 1998 Durban Centre for Photography, Durban, South Africa.