We chat to Nokulinda Mkhize, a 31-year-old sangoma, about her digital healing practice and the misconceptions surrounding mental illness.
By: Fundiswa Nkwanyana
1.I started having nightmares at a young age. I didn’t know what they meant at the time. As a teenager, I realised that they were more than just dreams because they turned into reality. At the age of 17, I started taking medication for post-traumatic stress disorder and clinical depression. At 19, my ancestors came to me in a dream, telling me about my calling as a sangoma.
2. I was initiated as a sangoma when I was 22 years old. In my practice, I do divinations using the traditional method of throwing bones. I do cleansing, healing and protection practices with muti and the energy of water. I also connect with the ancestors in the spirit world, and they guide me. My clients consult when they seek spiritual guidance, affirmation or clarity in resolving issues in their lives.
3. As an online practising sangoma, I have found that there are many misconceptions about what I do. People think that I don’t need to be compensated for the work I do because it is through the ancestors. They also think that a sangoma is an old person, living in a village. They seem to believe that youngsters practise because it is fashionable, and that we do not lead normal lives.
4. I will be hosting talks on ubizo, mental health and intergenerational trauma. This is because people have difficulty navigating between mental illness and a calling to be a sangoma. Although the two are similar, they differ in many ways. I want to pass my knowledge and understanding of our indigenous spiritual practices, as well as the different types of spiritual calling in relation to mental illness.
5. I’m currently not available for personal consultations. This is because I recently became a gobela, and I initiate those with a spiritual or ancestral calling into the practice of becoming a sangoma. However, I am vocal about my work as a sangoma on my Twitter: @noksangoma and Instagram: @noksangoma accounts, where I share personal aspects of my journey as a sangoma, mother and wife.
6. I know my limits, and have learnt to have patience. I now know that there are things I can do and those I cannot do, and that it’s alright.
7. One of my favourite quotes is: “If you should see a goat in a lion’s den, fear it.” I read this quote in a book many years ago.
Nokulinda will be hosting talks on ubizo, mental health and intergenerational trauma in Johannesburg at the Victory Theatre on 3 September, and at Durban’s KwaMuhle Museum on 9 September.