oa Alternation - The occult, the erotic and entrepreneurship: an analysis of oral accounts of ukuthwala, wealth-giving magic, sold by the Medicine Man Khotso Sethuntsa

Volume 15, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1023-1757



This study examines the way in which the economic, the erotic and the supernatural are brought together in the practice of ukuthwala, the Xhosa term for a dangerous, powerful procedure for long-term wealth, widely believed to involve the ownership of a wealth-giving being1. An individual receives medicine for ukuthwala and acquires a familiar, the mamlambo, which bestows wealth upon its owner. However, the mamlambo's owner is required to sustain the ukuthwala pact with sacrifices that come at a great personal and moral cost. The combination of the occult, the sensual and the economic that characterises the ukuthwala process is embodied in the form of the mamlambo. The word mamlambo derives from the Xhosa for river, mlambo. Because u-Ma-Mlambo, her full name in Xhosa, resides in deep water, she is known as 'the mother of the river'.

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