By Mpolokeng Mokone Tshabalala
Upon hearing that I am a traditional/spiritual healer, people often respond with shocking remarks/expressions. There is an impression or image that traditional healers are supposed to be dressed in traditional gear and look dirty all the time.
In the olden days, traditional healers never used to bath regularly as they didn’t want to wash off any herbs they may have used. Then, most of the healers didn’t hold any jobs. I am a young, vibrant and professional woman who has a job. Going to work without washing would certainly scare off a number of people. For me, dressing well and looking good is something my ancestors/guides remind me to do daily.
My spiritual journey started in 1994 when I was doing matric. South Africa had just come into its new democracy and I was, 18 years old, looking forward to writing my final exams when I had a dream where I was told that I should be a sangoma. I was in an exclusive girl’s private school at the time and thought it was just like any other dreams I have been having since I was a child. So ignored it.
Fast forward 18 years later, I started my traditional healing training. The decision to start training was triggered by a number of things; my grandfather (the only true father I had ever known), getting sick, the IT company of which I was COO closing and the break-down of my marriage. At the time, I remembered a ZCC prophecy I had received when I just started working (aged 21) that said I will lose my job if didn’t do something about my calling and everything will stand still. I thought I had just started working, this can’t happen. So, then I ignored the prophecy. The traditional training process took three months where I went through a process of re-engineering.
Traditional Healing Training
I had to sleep on the floor, wake up each morning at 3am for prayers and make a fire to heat up water for bathing. I had to learn to fetch water each morning from communal tap before I went to work. This was a shock as I was raised in a township that had electricity and indoor plumbing since the 1960s. But I soon learnt to adjust and became proud that I can make a fire and cook pap over an open fire. On the spiritual side, I learnt to understand who my guides/ancestors were. As a child, I was always interested in our family tree and genealogy and wanting to know where I came from. At the time, I thought it was just a hobby but I realised through my training that I was just guided about my ancestors. So, when they presented themselves, I already had an idea who they were and how we related. It was amazing to learn which ancestor was responsible for which gift and which physical characteristic on my body. I have a lot of grey hair now which comes from my paternal grandmother, and I have been always tom-boyish which a characteristic from grandfather. Once in a while I would crave food or alcohol, items that would never yearn for.
Understanding my guides was a confusing process at times as I was not fluent in Setswana or any vernacular languages. I had to work extra hard to learn the different songs and dances.
The traditional healing training was difficult on my family and friends. My maternal grandmother had raised me to be a professional woman and didn’t understand all of this. She is still sceptical, even today. My children and sibling have learnt to accept my spirituality as part of who I am. I have lost a few friends along the way but there have be two are still around and our friendship is stronger.
Things didn’t get better immediately, after I graduated. I was unemployed for a further two years. My mother had to pay for my children’s private school tuition and I had friend sending money for airtime. I’ve always been intelligent, hard-working and successful. You can imagine the talk in the township about how I had fallen from great heights. But you know, throughout this process, I found the secret to my true happiness. As healer, there are a different number of ways to heal. I used my corporate skills to start an NGO that helped other NGOs to get access to funding. Through the process we helped establish a local tennis association. With the time I had, I discovered who I am and started living the life that works for me.
I still get to see spiritual clients which are mainly people who have a spiritual gift like me but didn’t recognise, or understand it. One of the biggest challenges people who have the gift face, is acceptance. Helping my patients to understand, accept and eventually channel their gifts has really been an honour. And I am grateful to God and my ancestors for choosing me to perform this role. There is nothing more fulfilling than being able to help someone who is lost find their way.
Today I have a regular job as a civil servant. I go to work each day looking great, and perform my job to the best of my ability. Then I go home and be with my family, those living and crossed over. It is all a matter of balance.
Dating is not easy on a number of fronts. First is the stigma associated with a traditional healer. People think you will bewitch them or they want to use their gift for their own benefit. Secondly, I just can’t have sex with just anyone. It must be something mutually agreed upon with my guides. Although they recognise I have physical needs, the person must be agreeable to all of us. Also the person must be able to understand that there would be times that I will have to abstain.
There are a couple of things I have learnt; (1) that I am not alone nor have I ever been. My ancestors have always been there with me and I just didn’t know how to talk to them. (2) My ancestors love me and want the best for me. We may not agree at times, but they want me to be happy and all their intentions come from a place of love. 1 Cor 13:13 talks about faith, hope and love and how love it is the greatest of the three. And that is so true. (3) Death is not the end, just a transition. (4) God is the alpha and omega. The ancestors are not above the Revered One. The journey has brought me closer and deepened my relationship with God.
It is really important to start living in the truth. And my truth is that I am an intelligent, capable and strong black woman who talks to dead people and has weakness for a well sculpted male body (ala Shemar Moore, hmmm).
Having accepted my gift, and living in the truth, has set me free and has helped other people around me who have the gift to accept it. The whole experience has taught me humility and respect.
Traditional Healing Today
My thoughts on today’s healing is that the practise is being taken advantage of by unscrupulous traditional healers who are just out to make money. It seems like you can find a spiritual healer on each corner now. There are traditional healers councils and forum but I feel like the practise could do with some image revamp and good PR to make people aware that the practise has changed and has been modernised.