My name is Makhosi Sphoko-Siphamandla Gwala, and I am named after a life changing Training on Traditional healing and Self – Actualisation journey. I thought I could escape my healing gift by supporting my family’s rituals without being the one to facilitate other people’s healing processes. My name is derived from the pain, suffering and a challenging journey of accepting my identity as a gay man and an African. My name has been appropriate to the various phases of my evolution as a man and an African child. Those who have known me from my earliest childhood call me “Sipha”, taken from my original – birth name Siphamandla, which means facilitating inner strength and being the agent for change. In my earlier years as a Researcher and a Business Development Consultant, I unleashed a significant amount of anger, fear, anxiety and bitterness on the world and the corporate environment because of the predetermined psychological wounds I had suffered as a Public Administration – Supply Chain Graduate, and at this time I embodied a grinding force and all other qualities often identified as being desirable for growth, although their potential to destroy the African soul and one’s being is never mentioned.
Being born in the village of Maphephetheni, facing Inanda Dam, the only way to escape the rural lifestyle was through education and moving into the city to chase dreams that are bigger than your current. However, for me, I was told from a very young age that there is no way I could escape my gift of being a Sangoma. My parents, sitting in a reading with the late healer, Bab’Hlomuka, said it was obvious that my childhood sicknesses were a call to become a Sangoma. Just as any other ordinary villager, I dreamt that one day I would escape my rural upbringing, not the teachings but the way I would live my life. I completed my university studies in record time with reasonable results and I went straight to get trained as a graduate in Knowledge Management Facilitation. Post that, I moved to the bigger city where the majority of South Africans, including other African youngsters has opted as a place of growth, prosperity and success – Johannesburg.
I wouldn’t have accepted my gift if everything was ‘normal’ in the bigger city. As my growth was concerned, I had a series of events that did not make sense to a normal human being so I decided to take my luggage and laptop bag and hit the road back home to see my parents. On the next day, I was advised to go seek help. That’s when I found myself kneeling down, asking for intwaso. As dramatic as the event was, it felt so real and authentic in a way that my connection with my Ancestors was felt for the very first time after denying my being.
I have matured into being a man of nobility and a facilitator for self-actualisation, change and family adviser through the application of Indigenous Knowledge Systems. I have fully embraced my calling to channel family development and restoration through the different African Indigenous Knowledge Systems, that ability to tap into the spiritual aura – by being guided by the Holy Spirit and both my Ancestors and those of the patient for the day. I have become the one who grinds and mix traditional medicine and perform all the ritual events at my patients’ houses, pleading to God and Ancestors for peace, growth and prosperity. In the African essence, being a healer means that you carry other people’s pains and allow them to be vulnerable in order to heal, grow and learn to love themselves, regardless of their sexual identity because gender restriction never existed in Africa. It is all foreign and very Western. If the world has to learn best practices from us, “it is our ability to build human relationship”– Steve Biko
Being born by of a life-resisting traditional healer – my father who thought was smart enough to escape the gift of being the chosen resident healer, I, myself went through hell and back thinking that Christianity would save me from my predetermined Calling of being an African Spiritualist. I have in turn allowed myself to explore both the corporate and consulting environment but none was fulfilling enough than that one evening when I decided to ride on the late Greyhound Bus, around 22:30 from the Johannesburg Park Station. Little did I know that this was the beginning of a more fulfilling life for myself and those around me. This was the beginning of my God’s and Ancestral calling. He who nourishes himself through prayer, serve his community and all the loved ones is a true definition of Ubuntu. That was the beginning of my fulfilling life.
Many are gifted but very few are chosen to heal and take the bigger responsibility of facilitating African rituals. There is a growing number of homosexual people turning into being Sangomas. The only difference between a gifted person and a healer is their ability to read, advise and facilitate all the necessary series of events that will lead into healing. Anyone can be gifted in different ways. Also, we need to understand that there is nothing wrong with embracing our African Identity for as long as we do not try to buy Ubungoma or fake it for the benefit of self-importance. Being a healer requires a lot of dedication, discipline and ability to walk the healing journey with those that are seeking healing through their African Identity. We cannot fake or imitate other healers to make a difference. It is a calling not a trend.
We as Africans are finally in a better space to think and practice beyond the current legislative systems so that the world can learn about our road that is less-travelled. Post colonization, Africans are drawn closer to Western practices because African Spirituality is confused with witchcraft. There is a difference between the two. Healing is the ability to empower people by using the Indigenous Knowledge Systems that will unleash their potential – body, mind and spirit. The world is patiently yearning to learn from Africa on these best practices that existed in the past are still applicable and powerful for the benefit of African communities. Only those that are chosen will be able to push the envelope