Daughter of a Sangoma

Society & Culture | By Mildred Dube, Voice Over Artist / Blogger / Motivational Speaker | 28 December 2016

For many in Africa, traditional healers are trusted advisors on matters of the body, mind and spirit although in most parts are not officially recognized by the governments. Traditional healers are of the African Traditional Religion, God seen as the creator of the Universe in the same manner as within Christians and we communicate with God through our ancestors.

Born and raised in a traditional family, my mother who is a Sangoma/traditional healer made sure that I was rooted to our African culture. I now have the ability to connect with my ancestors, I honour them and I believe my life rests firmly on the foundation of their sacrifices.

My ancestors are a tremendous source of healing, guidance and companionship. What I enjoyed the most growing up were the traditional ceremonies such as the ritual killing of a cow or goat, the pouring of sorghum beer and dancing to the traditional songs. Through these ceremonies I learnt how to play the Drums,Mbira,Hosho and how to communicate with our ancestors.

Annually a traditional thanksgiving ceremony is held, sacrifices are made to the ancestors for protection, health and prosperity. This is an opportunity to communicate with the ancestors, call them on for good luck, blessings,fortune,assistance and guidance. To beseech them we give offerings such as slaughtering of a cow and home brewed beer. People sing and dance wearing different outfits which include beads, leather, different colours of cloth, indlukula/ngundu and worship tools such as “intonga/tsvimbo”. My mother being a medium chosen by the ancestors to become their host, during the ceremony she becomes possessed by the ancestral spirits, they act and speak through her, it has always been my duty to dress her accordingly during this time.

Having the spirits communicate through her does not only happen during traditional ceremonies, different people consult her anytime with  issues such as illnesses andcleansing, these are all issues that she is accustomed to treating with some blend of herbs, animal parts or rituals. After a person has been healed they bring gifts such as money, pots, plates, cows and goats.

 I had an ancestral calling, I took the bravest step and accepted my calling. A ceremony was held for me where a goat was slaughtered as a symbol of my sacrifice to the ancestors however this does not make a Sangoma because the ancestors who inhabit me are just spiritual guides. This is not something that you chose, you are chosen, I’m not different but simply gifted. I have dreams in which I see things that are going to happen. I am not afraid or ashamed to having accepted my calling, it is a life of purity where ancestors that are living in you are there for you.

When someone has an ancestral calling there are signs, my signs were constant dreams of water and cloths since a very young age. My mother became a sangoma way  before I was born, I was born in 1994 and I grew up witnessing the life of a sangoma. I was taught the traditional dances and how to embrace the spirit of the ancestors. My mother knew that having a calling would be difficult for me but it’s the way of our culture and tradition.

Accepting an ancestral calling is not as complicated as it is believed to be. It simply requires sincerity, purity and a deep understanding of what it is exactly that you are accepting. Accepting This path does not necessarily mean you have to give up your life. Not accepting the calling could cause serious problems for the family such as marital disharmony, miscarriages, feuds within the family and financial problems.
I did face challenges growing up as I had friends who came from Christian families which identified Ancestors as demonic. I was often told that I believed in evil spirits, my beliefs were insulted and it went right to the heart of what made me. In school I felt like most teachers did not like me because during religious studies they had nothing good to say about the African traditional religion knowing well who I was. I hated school and I sometimes wished for a different family.

My Christian friends would invite me to church, I did enjoy being in church but I felt unwelcome because oftentimes the preacher would curse tradition and I always felt that it was personally directed to me. I got used to the insults, it was rough at first but then I later became good at arguing my position and I stopped going to church.

Many people do not realize that the subject of belief is very sensitive and everyone has their own story. People spit out hurtful words not knowing exactly what they are doing. Africa is falling apart because of judgement.

What I believe is wrong and what you believe is right? You stand as the judge, the jury and executioner over me! Does it make you feel superior? Does it make you righteous?
Religion is like a pair of shoes, find one that fits for you but do not make me wear your shoes.

Africa’s culture lives on, our traditions have stood the test of time. Our traditions are packed with provisions and laws for all stages in life and these have helped every African to live in an acceptable manner.
Zimbabweans are not proud of being African, they have been mercilessly brainwashed. Everything African in inferior and everything Western is good they believe. We Africans were without religion until the westerns colonized us, demolished our sacred shrines and our beautiful art was burnt to ashes. We Africans were stripped off our identity, culture and tradition.

Other African countries like South Africa love and embrace their culture but Zimbabweans are ashamed of their culture.

We should learn to respect and honour differences, become bonded in a common culture peace which commits all to love humanity.

Let us be proud of who we are, let us portray our culture and traditions wherever we go. People look down on Africa and this should be changed.