Muti is the Zulu
word meaning medicine
. In brief it is any ingredient in a traditional cure. Sometimes it is described as "African traditional herbal
medicine". Often administered by a sangoma
, but the word can apply to any real or imagined active ingredient
Muti, used in South African English or in Afrikaans as a loanword refers to any remedy.
Muti has nastier meanings too. Some traditional muti is straightforward: a herb is made into a potion and drunk. Some is magical in its logic: Slaughter this animal, burn this offering. Some is real eye-of-newt and wool-of-bat stuff.
And some is appallingly worse. The Torso in the Thames case brought the appalling practice of muti murders to a western audience: some spells are so dark that the only ingredients that will do are fresh, human body parts, from a ritual murder.