Citizen Reporter
5 minute read
26 Jul 2022
4:12 pm

New generation of traditional healers helps Gen Z connect with their spirituality

Citizen Reporter

Gen Z are much more open-minded to finding a version of spirituality that works for them and often turn to social media to find a community.

Gogo Nobelungu, born Gugu Ndabezitha but popularly known by her social media handle “Sis Gugu". Picture: Supplied

Gen Z – the generation of people born in the late 1990s and early 2000s – are doubling down on spirituality, and as a result, many young people turning to platforms like YouTube, Twitter and TikTok to find camaraderie and community. 

Gogo Nobelungu, born Gugu Ndabezitha but popularly known by her social media handle “Sis Gugu,” is counted among those leveraging the power of digital platforms to connect with other spiritual people.

Google Africa recently placed a spotlight on the healer and spoke to her about the different types of healers and mediums in the world, and what sets them apart. 

She began by explaining why she thinks Gen Z are not only seemingly more spiritual than they have ever been, but also why they are more open about their journeys.

“We know that there have been huge significant generational shifts and Gen Z is much more likely to question everything rather than follow in blind faith. They are becoming much more open-minded to finding a version of spirituality that works for them and often that means stumbling onto YouTube to find healers like me.”

Despite growing up in the Catholic faith, Nobelungu says she was always drawn to African spirituality. 

Gugu Ndabezitha
Gogo Nobelungu, born Gugu Ndabezitha but popularly known by her social media handle “Sis Gugu”. Picture: Supplied

With a family background of healers, who practised in different lineages, Nobelungu eventually accepted her calling to use her gift of healing people across the world. 

Sis Gugu currently identifies as a clairvoyant, a phenomenon described by Google Africa as “a gift which allows people to see future events and how they correlate with the past or present”.

“They may have different mediums of where they receive their information from, in my case, my base will always be my ancestors who show me visions for people. I use water and a white candle to receive the visions,” explained Gugu, who now also works as a content creator under the umbrella of spirituality. 

While she now enjoys a major following on social media, she says becoming a content creator wasn’t always the goal.

“If I’m honest, I wasn’t always ready to embrace the ‘content creator’ title. My online presence has really been a result of me just speaking my mind because I’m such an opinionated spirit. I already have a devoted following on Instagram, but my followers were constantly asking me to jump onto YouTube, so it was a no brainer,” she said. 

Gugu’s first YouTube video garnered over 20 000 views in less than a week, and was the driving force behind her decision to leap into content creation.

“I think people resonated with the video because it gave them a real and personal insight into my spiritual journey. When it comes to talking about African spirituality, I always wanted to challenge what we were taught about traditional religion. 

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It’s important to use my digital platform to have these honest conversations, where we can interrogate everything and ask hard questions. That’s why it was critical to enter into a space like YouTube with its huge global reach, especially since I found out that many of the people who enjoy and consume my content live outside of South Africa,” added Gugu. 

Over the years, Gugu says she has worked to find creative ways to engage with her largely Gen Z audience and she has discovered a formula that keeps them coming back.

“I like to create a safe space where there’s no judgement as I engage with people from all ages, religions and walks of life. This is super important with an often divisive topic like religion so a friendly and welcoming atmosphere gives my followers the freedom to speak freely. 

“I hope I can help them embrace and lead their own spirituality. Everyone is looking for a healer to guide them, but spirituality is not group work, it’s about individuality that comes from within and finding your own way.”

Despite being young and a part of Gen Z herself, she says she isn’t really tech-savvy so navigating the online landscape has been a bit of a “learning curve” for her. Another challenge comes with the fact that the job also comes with its fair share of negative sentiment.

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“I was always aware of the trolling that I would receive online and that is just a negative by-product of becoming a content creator. Instead of rising to the bait, I use these as teachable moments where I can confront them and challenge their criticism, whilst fostering more open debate,” remarked Gugu.  

That is not enough to deter her from her passion, however, as Gugu enjoys the benefit of the opportunity to break down stereotypes and misconceptions about spirituality, and the people who practise it.

“There’s a common misconception that spirituality on the continent is somehow primitive or uncivilised, so we really need to unpick that colonial narrative. Whilst we have a lot of work to do, there’s small progress being made.”

Another misconception that Gugu and other creators in this space are breaking down is about how healers look. 

“I certainly don’t fit the ‘stereotypical’ perception of what a spiritual healer looks like. When I started out, I was constantly attacked for my appearance and it created a broader essence of doubt in terms of my credibility. However, I am proud of my look and whether I wear coloured wigs, nails or lashes, I’m still able to resonate with my followers. It’s important for people to see me as more than a healer; I’m an ordinary person with real emotions and desires. My spirituality doesn’t take away from my style or my extravagant nature,” she said.

Another creator she looks to in this space is recent winner of Big Brother Mzansi, Mphowabadimo, who is also a traditional healer. Prior to her win, Mphowabadimo used her platform to share more about her spiritual journey and continues to do so even after her win. 

“That on its own is huge and I’m glad she is unapologetic about who she is because she’s an inspiration to our generation,” said Gugu.

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Compiled by Kaunda Selisho