The San: A Tribe Where Sick People Are Healed Through Dance

Imagine a world where you could just up and dance your sickness away. This is what happens with The San (Bushmen), a group of people resident in the Kalahari region of Namibia and Botswana in Southern Africa.
The San People
The San People. (kwekudee)












They are believed to have originated from the oldest surviving lineages, practices, and cultures of man. One of these is the healing dance of the San, a ritual dance that is still being practised by the community till date.

Dance in the San Culture

San Dance

For the San, dance is integral, recognized as a thing that holds immense magical and sacred power. It is likened to praying to the spirits of ancestors and the gods. And, of all, the trance dance or healing dance is the most important.

What is the Healing Dance of The San?

Botswana, Kalahari, bushmen (San) singing and dancing around the fire (theoallofs)

The healing dance is a ritual that brings one into a trance or altered state of consciousness. In this state, the healers experience healing energy that is channelled to the sick by touching the parts affected.

Apart from healing, the dance is used to eliminate negative habits and drive away disputes and anger from the community.

How does this healing occur?

The Healing Dance of the San.

First, a big fire is lit in the village. Women and children then sit around the fire, singing and beating their hands at the rhythm of the music. Men, on the other hand, dance in front of the fire, wearing anklets and producing rhythmic sounds with each step.

As things get more frantic, some of the dancers enter a trance during which they come into contact with the spiritual world. While in this trance, the Shaman (healer) can consult with the spirits of the ancestors.

The sick are brought to his sight and the Shaman removes the disease from them, releasing the negative spirits into the night.


This sometimes is a painful experience for the healer. For instance, they may cast themselves into the fire as their spirits leave their bodies to save the people. In return, The people care for them by rubbing their bodies with sweat and flicking flywhisks to ward off “arrows of illness”.

This can last many hours, even all night, in a bid to drive out illnesses perceived to be brought on by evil spirits.

Watch the healing Dance below:

Other Dances of the San

The Eland dance is an initiation ceremony and it is done by women, majorly for when a girl reaches puberty.  According to the San, girls at first menstruation, give off evil influences. Their gaze could bewitch the antelopes! For this, they are secluded and made to engage in a dance of purification.


Other dances are used for fertility, foretelling, or for good luck before you go out hunting. Many of these dances seem like animal motions, and even this is sacred to the San.

What fascinates you the most about the healing dance of the San? Have you also heard of this African culture?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Home Shop Cart 0 Wishlist Account
Shopping Cart (0)

No products in the cart. No products in the cart.