Movement 4: Triple E: EconomicsEcologyExplorations / EEE: EconomiEcologiEsplorazioni

The figure of the Herbalist-Healer in Uganda.New challenges out of contact with the National Health Organization policies


In this paper I will analyse in which way the traditional healers’ functions in Konzo society have changed when they got in contact with other religions such as Islam and Christianity.

Despite a lot of academic works about konzo culture, there are very few informations and researches about therole played by herbalists in their society and the changes occurred since the colonial era to nowadays.

It is possible that at first, medium and herbalist, were merged in the same social figure, but they started to separate because of the hostility of Christianity to medianic practices. Also the role of the herbalists changed along with the concept of cure inching closer to that of Western pharmaceutical drugs. This process has been incremented by the approach of the associations born to increment the health levels in Africa and by the new lines proposed by the WHO (mostly the “Traditional Medicine Strategy 2014-2023”). It aimed to develop international standards, to guide and promote researches about the use of medical herbs and encourage the integration with western health sistems.

These are part of the results of a field research I carried out in 2011 and 2015. In this field work I have spent five months with groups of traditional local “healers”. During that period I have had the chance to observe how any group was characterized by its own peculiarity by trying to comprehend the reasons of this new reality.


Uganda; herbalist; Bakonzo; Rwenzori; Muthawha ow'ebithi

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