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The late Mandoza released a song titled godoba (or hodoba). This song was a huge hit in the early 2000’s, but if you ask most people what the title of the song meant very few would tell you. 

The term hodoba means someone who is very good at being very bad (i.e., they are skilled at doing bad things). It can be used to mean a high ranking thief who is considered untouchable. In traditional medicine, the term uhodoba is used to describe a very skilled sorcerer. 

Uhodoba is just one of many names used to describe a sorcerer, other names include umthakathi, umsokoco, umkhunkuli, isazi, umbaluli, ugadada, umlumbi, and isalakwanda, which is derived from the proverb: “ukwanda kwaliwa umthakathi”

Historically, it has always been believed that witches were mostly women, however over time history has shown that there are men that dabble in occultic practices. 

As a side note:

There are practitioners that argue that “witchcraft” does not always involve harmful practices, this article will only highlight its negative aspects.

In general, a person that uses occultic knowledge for the sole purpose of causing harm to others is known as umthakathi in Zulu. The term umthakathi is used to describe a witch and a sorcerer, terms which are often used interchangeably. However, a witch is someone with inborn or innate occultic abilities, they can use their mind and thoughts to manipulate the thoughts and energies of intended victims. While a sorcerer uses incantations, instruments, and substances (such as concocted harmful medicine) to manipulate and cause harm on intended victims. 

In this article, the term umthakathi will be used to define a sorcerer. There are different types of sorcerers that can be distinguished in various ways including by functionality and experience. 

Types of sorcerers

For example, on the basis of functionality three sorcerers are identified:

  • A night sorcerer also known as umthakathi wasebusuku – this is the most commonly occuring and well-known type of sorcerer. A night sorcerer will typically have a familiar such as umkhovu (a zombie) and-or an animal such as a baboon. A familiar is a jinn or a conjured evil spirit that possesses a person, thing, or animal. An animal is a captured animal that has been fed harmful medicines and trained to cause harm to others. The type of sorcery practiced by this sorcerer can only be done in the dark. For example, they may use umbhulelo or umeqo, which involves placing harmful medicines for intended victims to walk or cross over them. Lastly, this type of sorcerer is usually a masculine, not to be confused with male. Meaning it can be a masculine female.      
  • A day sorcerer also known as umthakathi wasemini – this type of sorcerer practises sorcery during the day not at night. They may use idliso to harm their intended victims. Not idliso lomoya as this is administered when the victim is asleep, which is usually at night. This type of sorcerer can be a male or female. 
  • A lineage sorcerer also known as umthakathi wozalo – this is the most commonly occurring but less-known type of sorcerer. This sorcerer bewitches members of their own family. They typically will send a familiar such as utokoloshi to torment members of their own family. When a family has this type of sorcerer, there will typically be an underlying theme that affects the entire family. For example, this sorcerer’s family members will typically be widowed or unhappily married or abused or poor or sick or suicidal, etc. 

Sorcerers can also be distinguished by experience, namely, there are initiates, novices, and adept sorcerers. An adept sorcerer is known as uhodoba. 

What is uhodoba?  

Uhodoba is a great sorcerer, they are highly experienced in the field of sorcery. They are the antithesis of ugedla, a great healer. Uhodoba is a night sorcerer that rides a baboon facing backwards with his finger lodged inside the animal’s anus. Sorcery involves undermining and perverting an individual’s sexuality, hence the requirement to sleep with the mamlambo snake in order to gain riches and sleeping with utokoloshe to keep an intended victim unmarried and stagnant.  

The baboon is an animal that is pursued and captured in the wild by the sorcerer or by their familiar (umkhovu). After capture the animal is fed with concocted harmful medicines in order to suppress or kill its basic animalistic instincts. The animal is then trained to do the sorcerer’s bidding. 

How does one become uhodoba?

There are different beliefs regarding how a person becomes a sorcerer. In general, it is believed that a witch is born while a sorcerer is made. 

For example, Venda people believe that the gift of witchcraft is inherited from the parents, most commonly from the mother or maternal side of the family. In the case of a witch, it is believed that a mother who practices witchcraft can check if her new-born baby is a witch by throwing them against a wall. If the baby clings to the wall like an animal, the mother then begins training the child until their abilities are fully developed. Then through consistent practice a person becomes uhodoba.  

For most people sorcery is the result of a lack of self-control. A person who feels uncontrollable jealousy or hatred may resort to sorcery to feed the spirit of jealousy or hatred. Evil begets evil. Once a person starts casting spells and cursing others, the rush or high that comes from causing harm and watching others suffer is addictive. The more a person does sorcery, the better they get at it. Eventually, this causes the sorcerer to be very good at being bad.  

People who feel disempowered or weak, turn to sorcery to feel a false sense of power or strength. 

What does uhodoba do?

Uhodoba practices sorcery, which involves the use of rituals (rites), conjuration or invocation (which make us of words), instruments (or objects), and various medicines to give the sorcerer access to the supernatural for the purpose of manipulating people and things (such as weather or storms) and causing harm.  

When Moses and Aaron performed the first two miracles in the book of Exodus (in the Bible), the Pharoah’s sorcerers and wise men were able to replicate them. Moses and Aaron attributed the miracles as the “works of God” meaning God was performing the miracles through them. This points to the sorcerer’s ability to perform “miracles”, supernatural acts.   

Exodus 7 & 8

Type of medicines concocted by uhodoba

Uhodoba concocts and use different types of medicines, including but not limited to:

  • Imithi emnyama, black medicines. These types of medicines are used to perform sinister acts such as:
    • To cause the ancestral spirit to turn away in order to cause misfortune in a person’s life. This is typically done by a lineage sorcerer to bring misfortune (amashwa) to family members.
    • To bewitch the soil of graves. This is typical when a night sorcerer is creating izizwe. 
  • Iziphoso, medicines thrown (projected) to the intended victims with the purpose of causing harm.
  • Imibhulelo, spell medicines laid on an intended victim’s pathway to cause them harm.
  • Izibango, medicines to cause harm. 
  • Ushevu, poison that used for ukudlisa. 
  • Ukulumba, the use of magical medicines. 

Explore other related concepts by accessing idliso, izizwe, mamlambo, imfene, and umkhovu.

Safety precaution:

The use of traditional medicine in prescribed dosages will yield good results. Misuse and abuse may lead to complications. To learn about correct dosage, consult a traditional healer or a herbalist. You can also visit or email: to learn more about traditional medicine. 

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