Assessment of supernatural miracles in the geographical context of Kwasizabantu
Black magic: witches
In Zulu religion there are witches, called abathakathi (pl.). They occupy themselves with black magic. The umthakathi (sg.) is asked to do something bad to a supposed opponent. He is suspected to give a person something to eat or drink which contains a certain magic ingredient. For this purpose normal-looking corn flour or beer is used. It is said that immediately after it is taken, the magic ingredient is transformed into a snake, beetle, toad or a large fly. This is said to result in asphyxiation or death. The familiar spirits of the umthakati are baboons, birds, bats, cats, dogs and snakes.
White magic: medicine-men and diviners
From inexplicable little things to important events, sickness, adversity or when signs appear, the Zulus wonder who is responsible. They continually look for solutions from the medicine-men (izinyanga) and diviners (izangoma). They can diagnose patients and free them from injury by means of white magic.
The inyanga is often a herbal doctor, who can break the spells of the witch (umthakati or umloyi), working with the power of the ancestral spirits. He can make objectswhich can defend against sickness or calamity. He can heal or liberate anyone who puts himself in his hands. As proof of the victory he demonstratively displays a piece of bone, a tooth, a toad, a beetle, pieces of glass, needles, or stones, which he appears to have removed from the patient.
The emergence of live animals and objects from the human body is understood by Kwasizabantu as a sign of liberation or healing. This phenomenon is a rare occurrence these days, but the indigenous population accept it and believe it without question. In anthropology these phenomena are associated with the activities of diviners.