Somali Traditional Healers: Role and Status

Author: Abdullahi Mohamed Ahmed

Medicine and Traditional Medicine


More than half of the somali population live in rural areas and refer their health problems to traditional healers, in some areas where the two medicines coexist, people may prefer the traditional system because of their belief and the satisfaction they gain from it. The Somalis have their own concepts of the causes and curing of diseases. Like other African societies, the ancestors play a great role in the lives of the individuals. Still many diseases and natural calamities are attributed to not satisfying the ancestors enough. Moreover, Somali had contacts with Asian countries, like the Arabs, Indians and Persians, from which they imported healing systems.

Some causes of disease in Somalia are considered to be evil eye, envy, sin or a mistake against someone in the society, or super natural causes such as spirits or Jinni.

The Islamic religion arrived in Somalia with its own concepts of disease and therapy which has intermingled with the pre-islamic concepts.

In this communication, we will look over the healing systems, types of healers and their roles in the society.

Material kindly provided by the Roma 3 University's Somali Archive

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