Answer to Question #190508 in History for Andries Thabo Mogo

Question #190508

What were the main functions of shamans in the precolonial San communities

of Southern Africa?

Expert's answer

Shamans performed several functions in the pre-colonial San communities of Southern Africa as; Shamans were regarded by their community as prophets, diviners, and custodians of religious beliefs. Secondly, they used to hold all-night ceremonies in which the entire community dances, drums, and chants for their charismatic leaders. Thirdly, Shamans are not normally possessed by spirits; rather they control spirits and are believed to be able to fly and transform themselves into animals. Other functions include; healing, leading a sacrifice, preserving traditions by storytelling and songs, fortune-telling, and acting as a psychopomp ("guide of souls"). All these functions could be performed by a single shaman in a particular culture. 

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