Sometimes the scariest confrontation is that between the mind, body and soul. When the human trinity is so out of sync, you feel a deep depression, an existential problem and pity for the conflicted frail species that you are. Human. A mere mortal.
The incongruence of my dreams and aspirations in my reality is the greatest travesty and perhaps the genesis of my dilemma. At a point in time, five years ago to be precise, it was devastation-in-waiting upon the realization that I would not remain in the stagnant state of my beautifully imagined self. And boy, had I imagined!
To say the least, I had an extraordinary childhood. I exuded confidence and a high intellect, a blueprint for greatness. It was no mistake that everyone around me, myself included, dreamt I would grace NASA or similar space programmes as an astronaut. A divergence later in life and due to exposure from my chosen journalism career, I could see myself owning a news wire network or a fully-fledged media satellite television company. I even imagined walking proudly in Silicon Valley as a digital media strategist.
A few years before that, at the end of high school, I was dead set on becoming a chartered accountant and was in line for multiple scholarships. Such was the image I had worked hard for.
Thirteen years after high school, I was a media innovation manager and named a Mail & Guardian Young South African (2015) due to my work in the continent leapfrogging African newsrooms to the digital era. At the age of 30, I played an unprecedented role presenting a case in the continent for open data, data liberation, drone journalism and demilitarization of drones for media watchdog purposes.
In short, life was good, and I was well on the path to becoming who I had packaged myself to be.
Unbeknown to many, however, I had a lifelong secret that was kept between family and close friends. I had “the calling”.
I began seeing when I was about 5 years old but that was a very uncomfortable reality for my parents, both professionals in the health industry who wished for me to succeed in a western profession, becoming anything but what my natural rhythm was gravitating me towards! In their books, the linear progression for me was education, career, awards and marriage.
Like I said, we are conflicted beings. You have to appreciate the further confusion as a young black Zulu woman in modern day South Africa, who had the privilege of threading the parallels of a fast paced global media innovation life, yet one who returned home to Zululand to a very contradictory existence with the same parents burning impepho (Zulu incense) during ancestor veneration ceremonies.
For example, I had a high place amongst Zulu maidens-in-training and celebrated my 21st birthday with bare-breasted peers singing Zulu songs of femininity, fertility and praying to find strong husbands someday. Yet, I returned every semester to Rhodes University, my Atlantic Philanthropies scholarship and a true poised Rhodesian life, constantly changing between these pockets of identities.
As I ignored the Spirit Voice speaking with me and continued globetrotting in my very successful career, hardcore healer-initiation dreams and visions troubled me on and off work in Nairobi. A metamorphosis was in progress and the caterpillar was slowly crawling into her cocoon.
I began to compare, over and over, my daily pursuits versus the real me and interrogated the global spiritual laws that lay in direct contention to my Nguni spiritual reality and sangomaship. I often wondered why the later had been forced into the crypts, its practitioners stereotyped as uneducated ‘witchdoctors’. A large part of me was scared to be one of those witchdoctors ostracised by society. As my gift sharpened and my sight hovered above the universe; the past, present and future merging into a singularity and a clear line of consciousness, I began to resent politics and The Church which set the status quo for all knowledge in the world, including religion. I resented those who continue to suppress the indigenous peoples and cultures which are deemed substandard to their own. In my mind, I was a hypocrite too, for I was in bed with the suppressors as I spoke the language of building data liberation mobile applications, whilst getting a salary from global aid conglomerates who didn’t understand authenticity of indigenous people, their knowledge and validity of their spirituality. These thoughts haunted me, and work took away so much time and derailed me from accepting who I was meant to be. A medium.
Needless to say, I quit my job in Kenya and returned home.
Fast forward to 2019, I am now a full time Gogo, a practising Sangoma, an African shamaness. Sangoma is the IsiZulu word for clairvoyant, medicine woman or healer.
However, my existential dilemma continues for I do not fit in amongst Sangomas. My gift is something that they do not understand too, for I was never initiated in the usual pipeline through a Master healer. My guides came directly to me whilst I was in isolation in Kenya (a long story, hence the mayhem leading to quitting my job). They taught me everything from divination, scanning a human body using my eyes, controlling the healing fire in my hands and much more.
I often laugh and say I’m the black sheep of the magic family. I’m still an outcast trying to find herself in the world. The greying elderly in my community call me an Umfembi, a rare pure-mediumistic necromancer healer who directly connects patients with their deceased loved ones to assist them with unfinished business. Others call me a Porous One, one whose body is so light that spirits occupy momentarily to tell their stories, deliver important messages and in the process acquire assistance to transcend to the next dimension. Others call me the Spirit Walker, one who uses channeling and chanting methods to heal, tapping into natural elements (water, fire, air, earth, heart) to perform ancient sacred spells ripping the time-space continuum. Others call me Mngoma, one who dances to the drumbeat to awaken old knowledge and ancestor wisdom. Others uMthandazi, a faith or prayer healer. Others iNyanga, an herbalist or alchemist. So, the list goes on. The pockets of my identity!
If you ask me, I have no idea who or what I am. I just know I am a different Nqobile from that girl I knew in 2015!
My brother has often said that if scientists really wanted to uncover the wanderings of the human soul and wanted to understand time travel, they should come to see me. On my end, I have come to accept that we do not always get what we want but find a way to get that which we need.
I needed to be brought down to the level of my people in order to appreciate the important things in life. The groundedness and beauty of human connection. The feeling of tapping into someone else’s world to fully understand why their lives are as they are, understanding the positive impactful role I could play to propel a struggling or heartbroken mother, a self-loathing person, an ailing child, a woman struggling to conceive, a young person who just can’t reach their dreams to their health, self actualisation and holistic wellness and balance. I won’t even mention the wonder of venturing into the lives of those who walked this world before us – the many souls who have called me their grandchild, sister, helper and friend.
Now I’m not scared anymore, I laugh more. Engage more. I can even have a glass of wine and debate about the absurdity of the fourth industrial revolution in current day South Africa riddled by high levels of unemployment, whilst I counsel a five-year-old child who sees gremlins under their bed, performing invasive spiritual procedures to bring his mind to rest. I am no longer scared or ashamed to be called Gogo with a slight bow or curtsy when greeted.
As for my brother, perhaps his is the closest definition to what I will morph into next. A Time Traveler. A Looper.
That I can definitely look forward to, for we should always accept evolution and constantly morph into our true selves, in the process, not forgetting to reconcile all our identities as we proceed. We need to tap into our true selves, no matter how ancient, in order to deal with postmodernity with unshaken groundedness. The two, modern and old, are not mutually exclusive, for in my spirit travel, I have learnt that time itself is not linear. Our spiritual lives are a multifaceted connection, a network linking past, present and future selves in cryptic ways which create a holistic life experience. I had to go back in history and tap into the energy of my forebearers to become the healer woman I am today, a present state of being which will inform my future evolved self.