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This paper argues that popular healthcare practice in urban South Africa bears little resemblance to the essentialized descriptions of ‘Traditional African Medicine’ (TAM) that abound in the literature. It defines several key transitions that have occurred in African medicine, outlining how it can be re-formed on another basis which better matches both the pluralistic-syncretistic logic of current medical practices and the less deferential ‘spirit’ of those enacting them. We present the search for ‘embedded innovation’ formulated with Procter & Gamble as a recommended approach for cross-cultural product development (in healthcare and more generally).