Integrating ancestral history into lives today

CELEBRITY SANGOMA Nokulinda Gogo Mkhize
CELEBRITY SANGOMA Nokulinda Gogo Mkhize

It is not often that a sangoma is a celebrity who displays her skills in the public domain.

Yet Nokulinda Gogo Mkhize is one of a kind who hosts her “Gogo speaks” annual talk at the Fringe in the Joburg Theatre in an energetic and vibrant way.

“With the Love and Legacy talk [the theme for this year] we are looking at ‘isintu’ – our [African] cultures, histories and how we integrate our backgrounds and ancestral histories into our contemporary lives,” Mkhize says.

Focusing on love and legacy is inspired by the youth in pursuit of self-understanding.

Therefore, the talk is aimed at using lived experiences to share and explain the present for their benefit.

“Young people in the city are struggling very much with understanding themselves in relation to other people in their social environments.

"And families in the city are struggling with how to raise their children and how to relate as parents under capitalism,” she says, adding that she has drawn this from her experiences with her clients.

“It [the talk] is about what it’s like to be young wanting to fall in love or falling in love in a city, [amid] high pressure and [scarce] jobs.

“Or what it’s like being a mother in a suburb or in the middle of the city or a township. All these things I think need attention.”

She says urban folks also suffer from being uprooted culturally.

Black people in urban spaces have had to reform their cultures and how they see themselves to deal with city lifestyles.

“You’re not in control of that city but you are a major player in building the city. You aren’t the power base of the economies of that city, it’s almost like the city is there to extract the life of a black person and that’s how it functions."

Mkhize presents the talks with her husband Tim Norwood in a discussion panel, featuring her sister Nomalanga Mkhize and CEO Nokwe Mtshali of Bertha Gxowa Hospital in Germiston.

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

Nomalanga, who has an academic background as a lecturer at Rhodes University in sociology and history, has chosen to focus on her areas of expertise while relating the theory to the lived experiences in life.

“I’m extending a conversation I consistently have with my sister around how society has to function particularly in South Africa and deal with a very hard economy after 300 years of being broken and oppressed,” says Nomalanga, adding that for the past 100 years Africans have had to deal with being labourers or economically excluded.

“I feel there isn’t sufficient understanding of the black mental health after 300 years of oppression, resilience and surviving. So as a historian and sociologist I’ve had an interest in the psychosocial effect of what that system does,” she says.

Mkhize says society has to find a way to take life forward, heal broken families and survive.

“We are bringing 100 years of resilience and surviving but also darkness, oppression and suffering … as lessons and look into building a new future.”

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