As a staunch Christian, who used the gospel to preach life to others, Mkhulu Makhanya’s sermons failed to save him from depression, as he was in denial about his ancestral calling to be a traditional healer.
In primary school, he says he would often predict the weather or days when the school bus would arrive late while sometimes gathering his peers around to tell their fortune. But the Soshanguve healer, now 34, thought it was common to be “in tune” with such abilities.
“My entire life I grew up as a Christian boy in the Methodist church. I joined a confirmation class and started fooling around with preaching, trying to be funny. But it caught fire and I realised I could actually preach.
“As time went on, I realised I was getting good at the ministry thing and I would preach. Apparently, I was an odd teacher as I told stories outside the dogma. Christianity highlights the presence of men in the Bible, but when I looked at it, the first disciples of Jesus were women. Jesus’ best friend was a woman. So, I always focused on such things and I think that’s what made me an interesting preacher.”
Dressed in a red leopard-print cloth tied around his waist and a medallion hanging from his neck, he recalled how his life was chaotic, despite following the word of God. Applying to be a minister at the church came with turmoil, hardships and what seemed like bad luck.
“Application forms would disappear, the person in charge of admitting me suddenly doesn’t like me. On the other hand, school was tough for no reason. I would repeat the course I really enjoyed doing, Electrical Engineering, so many times. Marks would go missing or I would suddenly get sick in the morning of my exam and fail to write. I felt numb, misplaced and had no sense of purpose.”
Feeling depressed, Mpho contemplated ending his life. He, however, found the desire to live one night when he mysteriously fell asleep while planning his death and dreamt of his late aunt.
“She said the gift of life is to achieve peace.
“If you are a peaceful human being, you will be peaceful in your afterlife. I then woke up 10 minutes later and that dream absolutely took away my desire to kill myself. I then decided to go back to my roots and consult a traditional healer.”
During the consultation, Makhanya was told of his calling, which took him by surprise and left him in denial for three years. His denial came from Christianity’s ideas of African spirituality: “It was demonic, dirty and backwards and once you go into it, you go deep into poverty. Plus, Christianity is cool.
“I decided to run away to Switzerland with my Swiss girlfriend. But shortly after I arrived, I broke my leg while snow sliding and was told it would have to be amputated. I decided to pray for it every day and the surgery actually went smooth.
“I flew back home and healed.”
Makhanya accepted his calling in 2016 where he went through a five-month initiation process that involved isolation, dreams and visions and learning about muti, herbs and healing.
“I got to appreciate Jesus more after that because I realised the miracles performed by Jesus were spiritual, but not limited to Him.
“As healers, we get to experience things that Christians only talk about. Things like turning water into wine is normal for us. We are allowed to bend the laws of nature to manifest what is called miracles. Anyone who is allowed into the school of mysteries can perform such things.”