A rooster walks on top of roots used in traditional healing at BiMwanahija’s clinic
A women screams in apparent pain as a dark djinn (spirit) is leaving her body, while other women pray around her at the Shifaa Herbal clinic. People who go there believe that they can be cured of physical, spiritual and mental illnesses caused by djinn possession while listening to a Sheik recite words from the Quran.
Two women believed to carry dark djinn (spirits) have private consultations with Sheik Abdul Rahman & Sheik Nsoor. In order to push the djinni out that is causing their illnesses, the Sheiks physically hold the women and speak angrily to the djinn inside of them. It is believed that the Sheiks have power bestowed on them by Allah, that gives them special strength that the djinn are afraid of.
Handwritten patient files at Kidongo Chekundu Hospital, Zanzibar’s only psychiatric ward. Most families believe that mental illness is caused by djinn (spirit) possession, so rarely bring patients to the hospital until the situation is dire.
Women face the wall to better focus on recitation of dua or prayers at the Shifaa Herbalist Clinic. They came to be to be healed of spiritual and phsyical illness believed to be caused by djinn (spirits), through the Quran.
Rooftops of homes in Fuoni village just outside of Zanzibar City, Tanzania
A woman in the process of being cleansed of a djinn possession (supernatural being that forces people to do it’s will) that is believed to be causing her stomach pains at the Shifaa Herbalist Clinic . The act of the dispossession often leads to screaming, running, and writhing as the words from the Quran are like fire to the spirit
A gurney is rushed across the yard at Mnazi Mmoja public hospital.
At hospitals in Zanzibar everything— including daily meals, washing and transporting to different departments— must be supplied by a patients family and friends versus hospital staff
A sign giving directions at the Mnazi Mmoja Hospital the largest on the island .
Fatma Hamad, holds her 2 yr old daughter Khadija, while examining the child’s x-rays at Mnazi Mmoja government hospital. A month prior the child’s leg became paralyzed after a high fever and convulsions. The hospital recommended an x-ray to check for infection but ignored any testing for possible nerve damage. Finding nor relief at the hospital, Mrs. Hamad went to a traditional healer who told her the cause of the paralysis was djinn (spirit) possession.
A mother and her children sit in a field of a farm near Mkokotoni, village .
Apprentice healer, BiSalama, cuts medicinal roots with a machete at traditional healer Bi Mwanhija’s clinic. The roots will be doled out to patients to make teas to aid in healing
Herbs lay on the floor of a traditional healers clinic, used to help prevent miscarriage and diarrhea.
Patients queue outside the waiting room of traditional healer, Bi Mwanhija’s clinic. She is considered one of the best on the island specializing mainly with pregnant mothers and children. She has been in practice for more than 20 years.
Traditional healer, Bi Mwanahija, massages infant, Abduli Juma, age 3 months. His mom, Semeni, brought him in because he is very lethargic and can’t hold his own head up. Bimwanahija believes that the baby has a djinn (spirit) possession, though hospital doctors say he has an incurable brain issue.
A few weeks after his birth, infant Ahee Bom’s skin began to darken and peel off in strips. His mother first brought him to the public hospital where they told her the baby’s skin would hopefully heal on its own. A month later, as the condition worsened, she took him to the traditional healer BiMwanahija,, pictured here.
Infant, Ahee Bom, lays on the bed he shares with his parents & 2 siblings in their home. After birth, his skin began to significantly darken and peel off in large strips. The traditional healer, BiMwanahija, bathed him with 2 scrubs made from medicinal leaves. Photographed here a few weeks after the process .
Salha Abdallah , 43 yrs old, prepares an afternoon snack of bread in her kitchen while her son ,Ali, looks on. She has 7 children in total and her youngest , 1 year old Nurdiin, was born with Down Syndrome. She goes to BiMwanahija’s traditional healing clinic weekly to get the child massages that she believes invigorate him
1 year old Nurdiin, born with Down Syndrome sits on the couch of his home. He is the youngest child of his 43 year old mother ,Salha Abdallah who has 6 other children. She goes to BiMwanahija’s traditional healing clinic twice weekly to get the baby massages that she believes help invigorate him .
Money drawer where payment for services rendered at traditional healer, Bimwanahija’s clinic. She charges based on a sliding scale
An infant is stretched by traditional healer, BiMwanhija at her clinic, which is meant to promote blood circulation
Eight month old, Muhammad Ali with his mother Nadra in the living room of their home. Muhammad suffers from pain resulting from an extreme incarcerated hernia (distended belly button). His mother brought him to a traditional healer to get herbs to try alleviate some of the discomfort, which she says is helping. The hospital diagnosis was surgery , but Mrs. Ali is concerned the child will die there if he undergoes the recommended procedure
Traditional healer, Bi Mwanahija, massages pregnant patient, Maryam Juma, 29. This is Maryam’s 5th pregnancy though she has no surviving children (3 miscarriages and 1 was stillborn). Both she and the healer believe the reason for all the failed attempts is because a troublesome djinn (spirit) has attacked each child in utero.
Apprentice traditional healer, BiSalama separates small portions of medicinal leaves to be given to patients at BiMwanahija’s clinic
Semeni Juma holds her infant son, Abduli, age 3 months in her lap at the waiting room of traditional healer, BiMwanahija. The mother brought him in because he is very lethargic and can’t hold his own head up. BiMwanahija believes that the baby has a djinn (spirit) possession, though hospital doctors say he has an incurable brain issue
Traditional healer, BiMwanahija, carefully examines 1 month old, Mohammed Salum, who presented with malnutrition as he wasn’t able to ingest breast milk. The hospital did not understand the reasons he couldn’t feed so just sent him home. They did give the mother powdered milk & glucose but as she couldn’t afford it on her own after the first week, she tried goats milk + porridge to no avail The baby died 2 weeks later after this photo was taken
Khadija Joka Haji, age 78, the aunt of traditional healer, BiMwanahija in the sitting room of the home. She moved into BiMwanahijs’s house 4 months ago, as she was having health problems. Now she gets traditional medicine, balanced meals and exercise which helps with the small ailments that are beginning to plague her
Worn pages of the Quran used in bestowing blessings by traditional healer, Mrisho ,in Jambiani village
Women recite Quranic duas
Sheiks stand over women at the Shifaa Herbalist Clinic who hope to be healed of mental, spiritual or physical illness through recitation of the Quran
A Shiek pours water on the neck of a woman. It is believed that cold water while chanting verses from the Quran can be enough to help dislodge the djinn (spirit) that is causing the illness
A Sheik at the Shifaa Herbal Clinic holds down a women who is in the process of being dispossessed by a djiin (spirit) that has allegedly been causing her to steal small items. As the djinn is leaving her body she had convulsions and tried to fight the Sheiks, so is being held down to prevent this while other women pray around her
After a Saturday session of religious recitations, two women converse. The Shifaa Herbal Clinic becomes a sort of meeting place for the women, just like a community center as women on Zanzibar generally pray at home instead of at the Mosque
Women being blessed by Sheik Salum, the founder of Shifaa Herbal Clinic as others wait their turn
A woman “possessed” by a dark djinn (spirit) being led out of the main recitation room by Sheik Mohammed. The sound of the Quran being spoken angers the djinn who in turn make the women violent sometimes
Women come to the Shifaa Herbalist Clinic in Zanzibar City, Tanzania to be healed of physical & mental illness caused by djinn (spirits), through recitation of the Quran
Transistor radio with an electric line strung through a window. Most homes in the smaller villages don’t have televisions or modern electronics