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Janzen, John M - Theories of music in African ngoma healing – The symbolism of the crab



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

John M. Janzen – Theories of music in African ngoma healing

The crab is a widespread central and southern African symbol of mediation between the human and the spirit world.

The crab, Na Nkala, is seen as a figure who scuttles back and forth between the water and the land, and between the visible world of the beach and the invisible world beneath the sands. In the second ngoma response, the gathered fellow sufferer/novices urge the young man to come out of his jail, out of himself, ….

Imagine an entire night of such self-presentation, confessions, and affirming counter-singings, in which you are able to pour out your anxieties, dreams and hidden frustrations to your ancestors, .. and those gathered about you.-They, in turn, respond directly to you suffering.

Additionally, as a sufferer, you are involved in helping others with their suffering. As a. common phrase in the songs puts this process, ’may Darkness be replaced by Light!’

The source of the experience

African tribal

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps


Music therapy