The Psychological Value of African Cleansing Ceremonies

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Perspectives from survivors of violence in South Africa

Ihlambo is an African indigenous cleansing ceremony that has been used in an attempt to anchor the peace that has been initiated in some communities in KwaZulu-Natal.

Indigenous ways of healing have become increasingly important for the indigenous people of Kwa-Zulu Natal after mass violations of human rights and the deaths of many individuals and families in the 1990s.

This research was aimed at investigating survivors of violence's experiences of ihlambo.

The purpose was to establish the process and therapeutic aspects of these ceremonies through interviewing community members from Mbumbulu and Richmond which are both located in Kwa-Zulu Natal and both have a history of mass violations of human rights, from the killings of innocent people to displacing most members of the community.

This was due mainly to tribal and political wars.

In the quest for forgiveness, peace and reconciliation, these communities have participated in mass ritual cleansing-ihlambo.

The results of this research show that indicators of reconciliation and forgiveness for these communities are emotional wellbeing, mental healing, and the interconnection with ancestors.

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