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6 South African Celebrities Who Are Sangomas

South Africa has no shortage of celebrities who are sangomas.

There are many famous children of the soil who have accepted their ancestral gift of ubungoma (traditional healing) in the past decade alone.

Boity Thulo and Letoya Makhene are two of South Africa’s most recognisable sangomasin the entertainment industry.

Other South African stars like Mshoza, Kelly Khaumlo and Lerato Sengadi have also reportedly been on this spiritual journey.

While becoming a traditional healer is a great honour, being a celebrity who is a sangoma is sometimes frowned upon.

Scoop Makhathini made headlines earlier this year when he accused some celebs of faking their ancestral calling because it had become “fashionable” in the entertainment industry.

“All of a sudden, every Tom, Dick and Thandi is having a calling…I’m just gonna relax and watch the liars play themselves out. The ancestral lashing will be unavoidable. JHB folk will bite anything, even s**t that can’t be bitten or faked. Yonke into bafuna ukuyendza ‘i-fashion’,” the TV presenter wrote on Twitter.

Drama aside, there are many South African celebrities who have trained for months to become a sangoma.

Zola Hashatsi

Actor Zola Hashatsi started his journey after the death of a close family member. “I think after my great-grandmother died in 2009, she became my ancestor and was always protecting me from evil things. I should have listened to the call in 2009, but I did not understand it… I still believe in the Lord, but I am a child of the soil,” he told the Daily Sun earlier this year.

Lerato Mvelase

Lerato Mvelase accepted her calling in 2015. The actress spent six months training to become a traditional healer. The time away from her family was tough but worth it. “It was very hard on my kids. I mean my kids sleep with me, even today. So for them to wake up and mommy isn’t there…it was very hard for my kids after six months of me being away but kids are very understanding actually. We don’t give them enough credit,” she told Metro FM in 2018.

Phelo Bala

Phelo Bala accepted the “call” in 2014 after experiencing physical body changes that scared him. He says his body “stopped working” and a doctor told him he had body flu. A family member advised him to see a sangoma and he soon learned the real reason for the changes in his life. While the Christian singer was criticised for becoming a traditional healer, he was determined to learn more about his culture.

“I am a sangoma; music is not my calling and I will not do it forever. Whether I have healed people through music or in my sangoma practices; my calling is in healing,” he told Drum magazine last year.

Nandi Nyembe

Veteran actress Nandi Myembe had her sangoma initiation when she was a teenager. “I was so sick that my mother had to take me to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. At some point, doctors had to test my urine and surprisingly it came out with soil but there was nothing wrong with me,” she told Drum in 2016. While the Ashes to Ashes star is no longer a practising sangoma, she assists her daughter, who is also a traditional healer, with her healing duties.


Popular kwaito musician L’Vovo revealed in 2016 that he went on a five-month spiritual journey in KwaZulu-Natal to become a sangoma. But he admitted he did it to honour his grandmother and did not intend to practice his calling. “I did it all for my gogo. I don’t want to be a sangoma. I’m a musician, that’s all… I wouldn’t have ignored this spiritual calling as I respect my culture and my religion,” he told the Daily Sun.

Buhle Mda

The Soil‘s Buhle Mda took a break from her music career in 2016 to attend initiation school to become a sangoma. She graduated as a sangoma seven months later. Speaking to 702’s Azania Mosaka, Buhle said she has always been a healer. “I was born a healer. I was healing way before I went in for initiation. If God or my ancestors instruct me to do something, then I’ll do it.”


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