Love and legacy with the Mkhize sisters

Sangoma Nokulinda “Gogo” Mkhize (left) and her sister Dr Nomalanga Mkhize (right). Picture: Ndileka Lujabe
Sangoma Nokulinda “Gogo” Mkhize (left) and her sister Dr Nomalanga Mkhize (right). Picture: Ndileka Lujabe

Sangoma Nokulinda “Gogo” Mkhize and her sister Dr Nomalanga Mkhize are gaining a “talk circuit” following as new thinkers, using traditional practice to guide contemporary life.

On Saturday they will be hosting the "Gogo Speaks: Love and Legacy" talk alongside Gogo’s husband Tim Horwood and Dr Nokwe Mtshali at the Joburg Theatre.

It will focus on practical lessons from isintu for relationships and families and will include a panel discussion by the siblings and the youngest hospital chief executive in South Africa, Dr Nokwe Mtshali.

It’s a rainy day in Johannesburg when we meet the Mkhize sisters at their home.

We are greeted by a surprised voice, clearly interrupting a sibling bonding session: “Ah guys you’re early, k’safuneka sigqoke, (we still need to get ready)”.

On Gogo’s lap is her last-born daughter, who, wearing a pink and white jumper, observes her mum and aunt while nibbling on popcorn.

We notice that both sisters are dressed in black leggings with grey and black jerseys. They decide on the bean bag beside the warmth of the fireplace for the interview.

This warmth translates into their conversation with us, making sure to give us a preview of the Love and Legacy talk.

“The discussion will focus on black parenthood, capitalism and the effect of capitalism on black families.

"And also look into how young black people are able to relate to each other in romantic relationships and just socially in general …basically everything under capitalism, relating of course to the core essence of the talk, which is Love and Legacy.

"Looking at isintu, our cultures and how we integrate our backgrounds and histories into our contemporary lives [is part of this],” Gogo says.

Nomalanga, who is a sociologist and historian, talks us through her part in the discussion which is largely influenced by her academic background and participation in the broader conversations on identity, love and relationships as a lecturer, columnist and vocal activist on social media.

“I’m being a bit of an opportunist because I’m extending a conversation I constantly have with my sister around how society functions or becomes dysfunctional after 300 years of being broken, but over the past 100 years having to deal with a very hard economy where we are labourers or excluded.”

She adds that, “as a historian and sociologist I have always had an interest in the psychosocial effects of what that system does and I feel there is not sufficient understanding of black mental health.

"What is the mental health of a black person after 300 years of oppression and brokenness and dysfunction and surviving.”

Part of the Love and Legacy talk will also look into relationships both romantic, relational and with family.

Nomalanga also spoke about her relationship with her father and former ANC treasurer general – now minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs – Dr Zweli Mkhize.

“My relationship with my father is tricky as a public relationship, but also honest as a private relationship.

"You know ... I sometimes call him out on his politics and he also knows when I don’t agree with him on certain things, like how I didn’t agree with Jacob Zuma.

"But I try evaluating what I put online versus what we talk about in private and we talk a lot. In private there’s a certain language I’ve had to learn.

"On how to hold them [parents] accountable and to sometimes direct them towards the protection of self.”

Ahead of the show, Gogo said she was preparing for the talk with her husband, who will feature in the show first.

She will also be undergoing a number of spiritual rituals including “ukuphalaza” (an induced vomiting ritual) and “ukuqula” (which means to honour and praise), to make sure everything is right when she gets to her audience.

“We want people to take whatever they need to take from the talk. Without us imposing or projecting our expectations on them.

"We are taking the conversation away from social media and talking [to each other] in person, to experience that vulnerability and honesty away from the anonymity of our phone screens”.

Gogo Speaks: Love and Legacy will be at the Joburg Theatre on 24 March at 2pm, tickets are R280 - R300


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