By Themba Maqala
MASERU – Life has its ups and downs, but amidst all the challenges I faced since childhood, nothing brought me greater joy than discovering my true spiritual calling. I hold dear the little details and memories from my teenage years, but there’s nothing quite like the present, where I proudly embrace my role as a spiritual healer.
Allow me to take you back to a time before I realized this gift, which I consider a blessing from both God and my ancestors. I understand that everyone has their unique perspective on spirituality, but for me, the specifics of those beliefs are less important than the journey we undertake.
Speaking of beliefs, I never imagined I would summon the courage to speak openly about this, but it all comes down to acceptance and commitment. As a young boy, I exhibited signs of spirituality that became evident around the time I reached standard five. While I initially lived a typical life, things began to shift gradually. Little did I know that these changes were paving the way for a massive transformation—one that would block out old troubles and sorrows while opening doors to someone new. That someone was me, someone who could proudly declare, “Yes, I am a spiritual healer.” Why should one’s gift bring unhappiness? Perhaps it’s because of the potential judgment from others who have no insight into the challenges faced along the journey. Nonetheless, I found unwavering support from my family during this pivotal time.
When I first realized I had a spiritual gift, acceptance was the initial hurdle to overcome. Acceptance can be particularly challenging when you’re someone who cares about others’ opinions and fears how people may react when you openly express your beliefs. In reality, acceptance is about taking control of your life and facing whatever challenges come your way.
Let me recount how I discovered my calling back in standard five. I was plagued by severe headaches (migraines) and ignored taking action, resulting in persistent illness. This downturn affected my academic performance significantly, especially considering I was known as one of the brightest students. Following my matriculation, I made the decision not to pursue higher education because it felt pointless at that time, given my declining academic performance. However, I didn’t immediately embrace the inkling I had about my calling. Instead, I visited various churches, hoping to find deliverance or healing for my condition. Severe headaches may seem like a common ailment among males who might dismiss them as mere back pain, but everyone’s experience is unique. It wasn’t until someone suggested I consult a traditional healer that I sought an alternative path. After trying numerous Western medical treatments with no success, I also began to have dreams that hinted at my calling. Despite these dreams, I hesitated to take action because I didn’t initially believe in Sangomas or anything of the sort.
One significant challenge I faced was being assigned to Sotho kids’ models. I wondered how other models would treat me, and I feared that my modeling career was over. However, the most daunting challenge I encountered was being told by one church that spirituality was demonic, an assertion I cannot endorse.
Even before I entered the initiation school, I had dreams filled with images of Sangoma attire, “Lifaea,” which confirmed to me that this was undeniably my calling. I realized that I couldn’t go against it; I had to confront reality.
I lived for years in fear of what people would say about me being a Sangoma. It wasn’t until last year that I decided to attend the initiation school. At that point, I did it with love and readiness to face any challenges that awaited me upon my return.
I made a promise to myself that I would love and accept who I am because people often judge from a distance without understanding what you’re going through. That was when I started embracing a proud version of myself. After completing the “Lefehlo,” I didn’t face any specific challenges, but I was healed from the troubles I had endured.
Being a Sangoma is not a sin, but we, as Sangomas, are also human and can make mistakes. Let us not be condemned for following our spiritual paths. One important point I want to emphasize is that spirituality is not demonic; it is a gift from our unseen elders.
As we all know, patience is a virtue. Today, everything that once fell apart has found its place, and I am proud to say that I am a traditional healer. Without the illness I endured, I might never have accepted my calling. Now, I have fallen in love with the new me. Importantly, my calling hasn’t changed my life to the point where I can’t still dress in modern attire.
Being a Sangoma is one of the greatest blessings in my life, a cherished part of my daily routine. Who would have thought that a young man from a small village in Semphethenyane would proudly declare his identity after years of struggle, suffering, and an incurable illness? Today, I can confidently say that I am healed after fully accepting and loving myself, regardless of what others may think or any racial prejudices.