Original Research

Turning mirrors into windows: Knowledge transfer among indigenous healers in Limpopo province of South Africa

Jan R. Maluleka, Mpho Ngoepe
SA Journal of Information Management | Vol 20, No 1 | a918 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajim.v20i1.918 | © 2018 Jan R. Maluleka, Mpho Ngoepe | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 11 October 2017 | Published: 23 May 2018

About the author(s)

Jan R. Maluleka, Department of Information Science, School of Arts, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, South Africa
Mpho Ngoepe, Department of Information Science, School of Arts, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, South Africa

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Background: Knowledge transfer is an unavoidable process when it comes to indigenous knowledge especially in Africa, the continent known for its oral tradition. Such knowledge is in danger of being obliterated as a result of a number of factors, including lack of interest from younger generations and low life expectancy whereby knowledgeable people die before transferring it to the next generation as it is mostly not documented.


Objectives: This qualitative study utilised hermeneutic phenomenology guided by the organisational knowledge conversion theory to investigate the transfer of indigenous knowledge by traditional healers in the Limpopo province of South Africa.


Method: The study utilised a snowball sampling technique to determine the population. Data collected through interviews with traditional healers were augmented with observations done on two healers who were in the middle of their training when this study was conducted, as well as an analysis of records held by some healers.


Results: The findings suggestthat knowledge of traditional healing is believed to be transferred to the chosen ones through dreams and visions. However, this knowledge seems to be transferred through mentorship and apprenticeship, as well as interactions with other healers.


Conclusion: It is concluded that transferring knowledge of traditional healing goes beyond just transference; it is embedded as a belief system in many African communities. An in-depth study on the development of a framework to integrate indigenous knowledge of traditional healers into mainstream health system is recommended.


indigenous knowledge; knowledge transfer; traditional healers; Limpopo province; South Africa


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