African Traditional Healers in the Media in Zambia’s Contemporary Times

  • Nelly Mwale The University of Zambia, Department of Religious Studies
Keywords: African Traditional Healers, Media, ‘Religion’, Contemporary Times


The article investigates the representation of African Traditional Religion (ATR), in the media in Zambia using a descriptive case study design. The article focuses on traditional healers as depicted in the media in a bid to establish patterns and ascertain the existence and forms of traditional religion in the cities. The article established that the traditional healers were portrayed to be on demand especially in urban areas. Despite this, the representation was largely negative as it carried demeaning terminologies and offences and crimes reported to have been committed by the healers. In addition, while the media negatively portrayed the traditional healers, they used the very media to advertise their skills and profession. The article therefore argues that traditional healers are still relevant in contemporary times as demonstrated in the functions they play, despite public condemnation. The article advances that modernity and technological advancements coupled with VRFLRHFRQRPLF FRQGLWLRQV KDYH OHG WR WKH FRPPRGL¿FDWLRQ of traditional healing. Most importantly, the presence of traditional healers in the media points to the fact that ATR is still alive in a self-declared ‘Christian nation.’ The article therefore recommends that the largely negative portrayal of some aspects of traditional healing in a way, which tend to stigmatise African traditional religion, needed to be problematised in academia.