#SangomasBecomingCelebrities: Can sangomas be celebs and healers at the same time?

08 August 2022 - 10:45
By TimesLIVE
Sanah Masidi Seduba, 49, has been a traditional healer for eight years. She says she has healed a lot of people in her community, She says people consult for different issues. Some are sick, some have an ancestral calling and some are looking for missing people.
Image: Mosidi Seretlo/Gallo Images Sanah Masidi Seduba, 49, has been a traditional healer for eight years. She says she has healed a lot of people in her community, She says people consult for different issues. Some are sick, some have an ancestral calling and some are looking for missing people.

The image of sangomas in SA has taken a different direction, with many young sangomas using social media to popularise their healing abilities. 

Ubungoma, which means to be with song and is a belief that one may have healing powers bestowed upon them by ancestors, is considered sacred.

Although not kept a secret, showing off one's spiritual gifts is often seen as taboo as these are considered sacred gifts that should only be used for good. However, some sangomas are coming out to show the nuances of ubungoma, with healers like Makgotso Lee-Ann Mokopo, popularly known as Gogo Maweni, talking about practicing black magic. 

Gogo Skhotheni talks about 'love potions', polyandry and being 'hated'

Patricia Motsoeneng, popularly known as Gogo Skhotheni, is unashamedly living her truth as a sangoma and doing things the unconventional way. 

The traditional healer, who appears on Moja Love’s Dlozi Lam, Gogo Skhotheni  and Mzansi Magic’s iZangoma Zodumo, caused an uproar on social media when she revealed she had taken a second husband after her ancestors instructed her to do so. 

Nearly nine months ago, Gogo Skhotheni's second husband, Monde, joined her family and it has not been an easy transition for her, her first husband and mother, who does not understand her decision.

Young initiates speak of the influence of seeing sangomas on TV

The broadcasting of ubungoma has received a lot of flak on social media, but the constant airing of it has proved there is a demand.  

As more sangomas become celebrities and more celebrities answer when their ancestors call,  there has been a debate about whether the broadcasting of ubungoma is necessary and if the shows do justice to the practice.

Many people have aired their views on spirituality.

Here are five points by Gogo Dineo on accountability in ubungoma

Spiritual healer, teacher and trained sangoma Gogo Dineo Ndlanzi has been very vocal, teaching about African spirituality and bringing integrity to the ever-changing and growing discussions around the practice of it.

Speaking to TshisaLIVE at the second instalment and celebrations of Ancestors Day” launched in May 2021, she said patience is the most important tool on one's spiritual journey.  

She opened up again on a public platform with poet and activist Ntsiki Mazwai. 

Ntsiki Mazwai says sangomas must be held accountable

Poet and activist Ntsiki Mazwai blew off steam on Twitter about a sangoma who was a stripper. 

The poet told TshisaLIVE traditional healing bodies needed to regulate sangomas.

Ntsiki, who usually finds herself at the centre of controversies, said other races approached their spirituality with reverence. 

Gogo Maweni talks fame, controversy and being authentic despite backlash

Reality TV star and real life sangoma Makgotso Lee-Ann Mokopo, popularly known as Gogo Maweni, shared that she remains unbothered by the insults hurled at her and the labels she's amassed along with her fame, which include being called a “witch”.

The iZangoma Zodumo star has frequently shot up Mzansi's trends list when tweeps questioned her authenticity as a traditional healer, especially since she's seemingly proud of the dark side of her power.

But the sangoma is not  moved by naysayers and stands by the saying "there's no such things as bad publicity".

African Healers Association speaks about ‘sudden’ spotlight on sangomas

Dr Zukiswa Mvoko (Mkhulu Majola) of the the African National Healers Association says the gift of ubungoma has been taken lightly and finds the interest to broadcast traditional healing on television unnecessary.

Speaking to TshisaLIVE about the prominence of ubongoma content airing on channels such as Moja Love and Mzansi Magic, Mkhulu Majola said the shows jeopardise authenticity. 

“I'm not happy with the way media has broadcast the lives of sangomas. It reflects negatively on the originality of ubungoma and African healers at large. It is causing more confusion and more segregation among us as blacks, and to those who are finding their way or themselves and who they are with regards to [their] spirituality,”

Letoya Makhene talks about 'disappointing' ubungoma TV shows

Actress and sangoma Letoya Makhene-Pulumo has been a traditional healer for two decades and says the time has come for people to know sangomas exist and be aware of their journey. 

Opening up to TshisaLIVE, the actress revealed her journey started at the time when  stigma was still strong around ubungoma. 

“At some point we needed to get to a place where there wasn't this stigma when it comes to Bongaka. I remember 20 years ago [I] was going into initiation school, the stigma around having to answer my calling, and that's a painful thing [to] go through. For people to say these people are dirty, they smell, they are this and that.”

Moja Love, Mzansi Magic explain why they give sangoma shows the spotlight

TV shows such as iZangoma Zodumo on Mzansi Magic and Isipho Sethonga and Gogo Skhotheni on Moja Love have made it possible for viewers to tune into the lives of  sangomas.

TshisaLIVE spoke to Moja Love and Mzansi Magic to establish how the decision to air these shows came about. 

Bokani Moyo, head of channel at Moja Love, said the criteria used to select their shows was the same throughout.