In celebration of African Religious Heritage and Religion & Media Studies, the School of Religion, Philosophy and Classics (SRPC) presented two guest lectures by renowned i-Sangoma Ms Nokulinda Mkhize, who practices ancestral-based healing and spirituality in the digital age.
The lectures were in conjunction with the Introduction to Religion, African Systems of Thought and Religion & Media Modules.
Known online as @Noksangoma, Johannesburg-based Mkhize is an alumnus of UKZN, an i-Sangoma, wife and mother who has made the journey from fashion model to a sangoma.
Mkhize has formidable Twitter and Instagram followings, as well as a YouTube channel on which she breaks down complex esoteric intelligence to laypeople in a language and style relatable to their everyday experiences of love, sex, money and more.
During the lectures, Mkhize spoke about the Return of Nomkhubulwana in a colonised culture and i-Sangoma and divining online in the 21st century. She tackled the stereotypes linked to sangomas contrasting it against popular media and the reasons behind how these stereotypes are further entrenched.
‘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,’ explained Mkhize.
She continued to comment on the prejudice and stereotypes surrounding her vocation and beliefs saying, ‘People still think of ubungoma as barbaric. We still have to defend our practice and beliefs. This shows the extent of the damage of racism and colonialism and we still have a long way to go.’
She also talked about running her practice through her personal website, iThonga.co.za adding, ‘People are beginning to reclaim their heritage, so young people with the calling are not ashamed of it and are practising openly and proudly. There’s also a global shift, heralded by a feminist stance, and it is being done with pride and power. It shows a reclamation of spiritual modernity and the resilience of ancestors.’
Speaking about using technology to facilitate her practice seems a logical step for Mkhize ‘because technology is a huge part of my life and the world in this age. It allows me freedom and flexibility to express my gifts in ways that are less restricted, and has made me more accessible to people who need assistance.’
The lectures were well-received by students with many engaging in debates around sangomas simultaneously gaining a greater understanding of the practice and the spirit realm.
Photographer: Melissa Mungroo