Spiritualists say mental health should not be mistaken for ancestral callings
If you’ve been contemplating the journey of go thwasa (initiation to become a sangoma/traditional healer), you might want to make a pit stop at your nearest psychiatrist clinic because according to spiritualists, the debilitating signs and symptoms of various mental health conditions are often mistaken for ancestral callings.
With the mushrooming of new age millennial sangomas popularly known as ‘Slay-ngomas’ against the alarming changes in the global burden of mental disorders, sangomas such as 26-year-old Charlene Nadine Motshegwe aka Mkhulu Sphandla have raised concern saying that, “Mental health issues can be mistaken for a calling because some of the signs are similar including: seeing things which other people aren’t seeing and hearing voices”, symptoms often associated with mental conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Mkhulu Sphandla advised that the only way to be sure is to seek medical assistance or consult a sangoma for clarity.
“When a person has a Sangoma calling, he or she will experience a wide variety of signs but the major ones are, ‘Dreaming of traditional rituals and sangoma attire, dreaming of water, snakes, dead relatives, dancing with sangomas, dreaming of mountains and digging medicines.”
Sphandla explained that if one is truly called, their dreams are vivid and always come to pass. She further explained that people who are called have heightened senses as well.
So what can happen if a person without a calling goes through initiation school and starts practising? Sphala answered, “You can face very harsh punishment not only directed to you but the people you falsely help as well, because a calling is really sacred and if you lie about it, your badimo [ancestors) can punish you by making life very difficult for you. You can even get very sick or go mad,”she said.
The 26-year-old sangoma said that although she always knew she was different because she would hear voices and see her grandmother in her dreams, her calling was only revealed to her in 2019 when she consulted another sangoma.“
A two time bone cancer survivor, Sphala is now dedicated to helping people with jobs, relationships, dream interpretations, cleansing and sedimo related issues. The new age sangoma is located in Gaborone Block 9 and Tsholofelo East for face to face consultations and also offers online consultations.