Former advertising copy writer Vuyiswa Xekatwane healing the broken and afflicted in society

Gogo Mahlodi will be hosting a healing workshop in Soweto, on Saturday, 30 April and a tickets that includes brunch and drinks cost R500 each.

By Edward Tsumele, CITYLIFE/ARTS Editor

At Face value, former advertising copy writer and arts journalist Vuyiswa Xekatwane looks like any young urban woman in her 30s. She does a lot of things that young people of her age often do in the city, such as having fun, attending music festivals and dining and wining.

In fact after having this interview at Kicheners, a popular quirky bar in Braafontein, frequented mostly by students and young professionals, she headed straight to the Cotton Festival at the Station in Newtown where there was a hip hop festival going on for the second day. Vuyiswa had been attending the festival since it started on Saturday, ending on Sunday 24 April 2022.

And yes, we have bombed on each other several times at a popular drinking place in Newtown, frequented mostly by artists and other arty types. There is nothing to suggest that Vuyiswa is more than what you see.

However appearances can indeed be misleading. Vuyiswa traverses two lives, the life of a young 30 something old woman quite active on Johannesburg’s social scene and vibrant cultural scene, and that aspect of her life is very visible. There is yet another invisible life that you will not pick up easily, unless you are meticulous enough to notice beads that she always wears on her wrists.  Those beads are not there as part of her fashion accessories. They represent something deeper spiritually. She has the spirits of her ancestors in her, that manifest themselves, when they need to, enabling her to heal the afflicted and broken in the urban concrete of Johannesburg, an urban space that has left many broken and disconnected from their roots and the wisdom of their ancestors as they embrace without screening modern ways of the West, particularly the capitalism system that encourages individuality and pursuit of materials things. This urban rat race unfortunately often leads to the neglect of people’s spiritual inner self.

This is where Vuyiswa’s gift of healing comes in, assisted by the three ancestral spirits that inhabit her body, enabling her to heal many in society, young and old who flock to her practice in Soweto. She does most of the healing through the spirit of Gogo Mahlodi.

“Most of my clients are young people who are looking for something that connects them with their ancestors as they increasingly seek to redefine their identity, to close that gap that has been created by this spiritual displacement and disconnection from their ancestors. This lack of spiritual hygiene manifests itself mostly in urban spaces, as the way the cities are constructed, are such that they do not have room to accommodate people’s spirituality leaving many people disconnected from who they really are and are left with no relationship with those that have passed on.

And so my practice attracts a lot of young, educated people who come for healing and spiritual guidance. However old people who come often come because they are brought to my practice by their children. People come to learn how to create a relationship with their ancestors,”  she states.

Vuyiswa explained that the three ancestral spirits that live in her body have specific roles to play in her life as a healer that include diagnosis, prognosis and healing. All the three spirits are her ancient ancestors from both mother and father’s sides of family. Born of a Pedi mother and a Xhosa father, this second generation Sowetan told CITYLIFE ARTS that she is inhabited by Ndau, Nguni and Sotho spirits that manifested after undergoing a six month initiation ceremony in Mpumalanga in 20119. Ever since she has been practising as a healer and has left her corporate job completely to answer to this important ancestral calling.

The journey was not easy though as it was filled with many obstacles and tribulations, including a strained relationship with her staunch Christian mother who could not understand or accept that her daughter at age 27 at the time in 2018,  had this calling.

My mother a staunch Christian did not accept it and therefore our relationship was strained. My father did not resist that much, but I could see that he had fear as at first when I started having these strange dreams, including a scene with those relatives that have passed on, he causally told me that I should not read much into that. The dreams however persisted and I eventually consulted a healer who told me that I had an ancestral calling that I needed to heed. I did so in 2019, undergoing an initiation ceremony in Mpumalanga, alone and without much support from my family. However I found a community of healers who actually became the support structure that I needed.  I still have that community till this day,’ she said.

But dos she believe in God?

“I do and in fact I use the Bible in my healing and there is a lot of prayers that I have to undertake in my healing. Healing is in fact a deeply spiritual process that needs you to connect with higher powers. In order for you to do so, you have to surrender yourself completely to the spirit, including surrendering your body as the ancestors are present in your body, and they use your body to manifest themselves.

Brunch With Gogo Mahlodi: Spiritual Hygiene and the Body as a Site of Ancestral Communication.

After four years of practice as isangoma in Johannesburg, Vuyiswa Xekatwane, also known as Gogo Mahlodi,presents Brunch with Gogo Mahlodi.

Taking place on the 30th of April 2022 at Native Rebels in Soweto, the second instalment of Brunch with GogoMahlodi focuses on spiritual hygiene and brings into focus the body as a site and tool of ancestral communication.’

Gogo Mahlodi says the brunch was “Born out of the realisation that many people raised in the urban context of cities often face similar issues of displacement and knowledge gaps regarding culture and their spiritual identity, Brunch with Gogo Mahlodi seeks to create a platform that allows for knowledge sharing and community building through intimate conversations around spirituality.”

She continues, “From dreams to spiritual possession, mental health and everything in between, we look at the various ways our ancestors use the body to communicate their presence, their needs and sometimes, even impending events or danger.”

In addition to the body as a site of communication, “We also consider the indigenous understanding that mind, body and spirit are different components of one unit. How do our environments and consumption affect our spiritual wellness? What does it mean to be spiritually hygienic? How do we nurture our spiritual health? These are the questions we seek to answer as we share, eat and engage all our senses in communion with not just our ancestors, but with each other as well.”

The brunch features a guided workshop session followed by brunch and a Q&A session. Tickets for Brunch with Gogo Mahlodi are R500 and include the meal and bottomless mimosas.

For more information on the event and to purchase tickets please

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