Not everyone wakes up and just decides to become a traditional healer. Traditional healing is an innate experience which involves the ancestral spirit, Idlozi, and the ancestors of that healer.
So says Dr Ntombizanele Menze, a medical doctor and traditional healer who has started the Dr Zanele Menze Traditional Healer Foundation For Initiates.
Dr Menze said the journey of becoming a healer is a sacred spiritual path which requires resilience, discipline, patience and capital to cover training costs. However, not every initiate who has been chosen, or has the gift of becoming a traditional healer, can afford the fees required.
This is why she started the foundation. Her vision is to sponsor struggling initiates at the registered traditional healer schools in the country but her bigger vision is to restore the dignity of African spirituality while creating safe healing spaces and allowing healers to embrace and celebrate their gifts.
“I want to emphasise that the foundation will not by any means train initiates and people should not be confused. The journey of ukuthwasa is quite expensive,” she said.
“We need more traditional healers because the health system is overloaded at the moment,” she said, adding that there is a shortage of doctors and nurses and health institutions are moving in the direction of collaborating with traditional healers.
“We are hoping to fund healers who have a genuine calling and practise with pure intentions but we also want to restore the dignity of this practice. We want to embrace our gifts and practise it in a proud way,” she said.
Dr Menze said she is now looking for funding and other help she might get that would ensure that the foundation could perform its duty.
There are many negative perceptions about traditional healers, she said. When one does an internet search on traditional healers one would find results such as “penis enlargement” which is detrimental to those who have a true calling.
Asked how the foundation plans to make its mark, she said it aims is to support the truly needy that are gifted and will use their gift to heal the nation.
Furthermore, she said the foundation will do mentoring about Ubuntu and what is healer is about, not just in South Africa but in Africa as a whole.
The 39-year-old said her biggest goal is marrying western medicine with spiritual medicine.
Recalling her journey, she said her parents knew that she had the gift of becoming a healer because both sides of her family had “that spirit” but it was around her teen years when she started noticing the signs.
At first she was in denial about it but during her varsity years it became very significant. It wasn’t until around 2017, however, when she had a dream that Idlozi told her that if she did not take that path, they would kill her.