Thohoyandou, South Africa

Cameron Haddad

After a lengthy cross-Atlantic flight and a slow drive through dense patches of fog, we arrived in the beautiful town of Thohoyandou.

We are a team of two researching the socio-economic status and health care utilization of the traditionally religious in Limpopo, South Africa. We have been here for a little over a week and have been adjusting to life in Thohoyandou – driving on the left side of the road, the abundance of chicken eateries, but namely, the slower pace of life and work. In the first week, disorganization and mismatched schedules have proven challenging to our research project’s progress; however, we have still done some work and were able to get a better idea of the healthcare system and traditional healing culture in South Africa through individual conversations.

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Photo of us and Vhutshilo at his birthday party.

One issue we found in America while researching traditional healing was the immense variability of statistics on the prevalence and usage of traditional healing. Studies claimed that anywhere from 2% to 80% of South Africans utilize the services of traditional healers. Interestingly, we have found a similar discrepancy in some of our discussions with local people and new friends, with some claiming that the 2% metric is more accurate, and others the 80%. While our research project is admittedly not large enough to provide a robust answer, we hope that our project can provide more insight to this puzzling question.

We have also been learning a lot about Venda culture, and just a few days ago we were invited to our new friend Vhutshilo’s birthday party. He was incredibly kind and welcoming to us, like most everyone else here in Thohoyandou. While this was a lot of fun, we expect and also look forward to our research project picking up soon!

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