We dig deeper into the practice of Witchraft and how ingrained it is in many churches in Africa. Following on from our first podcast on Ancestor worship with David Kobedi, Blaque interviews Saneliswe Jobodwana about witchcraft in the church. Saneliswe’s mother was initiated into the world of South African healing and spiritual manipulation before committing her life to Christ.
Sangomas, Umthandazeli and Umprofethi
Saneliswe unpicks for us the difference between a Sangoma, where there is no mention of Christian worship, and Umthandazeli or Umprofethi who have the Bible open and work hand in hand with the “Man of God” in many African Churches. These mediators interact closely with the Ancestors in an attempt to reach God.
“Most of [the Umthandazeli] have the Bible. Most of them quote scriptures. And most of them say it from a very genuine place. I think in general, when it comes to Sangomas and Umthandazeli, I think one thing that people need to know is that it’s not outwardly “I am trying to be evil!” Or “I am trying to hurt you!” Or whatever. They genuinely think that what they are doing is correct and this is how we can do it.”
Jesus Christ and The Trinity
However, the God worshipped in these instances is a singular God. There is no mention of the trinity or of Jesus Christ.
“…they never presented Christ. It was always God. And it was always God in a very singular… just God. So it didn’t really matter which God, it was just a god. Not once did they ever bring up Jesus Christ.”
Saneliswe gives us some helpful pointers on what to look out for and how to spot witchcraft or ancestor worship in the Church.
“for me, if it does not have Christ involved, if it’s not the trinity, then it’s not legit.”
Family Divisions Over Witchcraft in the Church
One of the greatest challenges as a Christian is coming to terms with family divisions over witchcraft in the church or Ancestor Worship in general. Saneliswe and Blaque both share how their deepening commitment to Christ came with major breakdowns in relationship between them and both their fathers. This is not unusual in the African Christian experience.
Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Light
However, when all is said and done, the Bible is very clear about what we need to do to be right with God.
Saneliswe” “I think the biggest thing that I just want people to know is that you can question. You can really. The Holy Spirit is so available. And if you are confused when you are in a church that doesn’t necessarily present it to you, go to your Bible! Pray to God. You will have answers. You will have a way out.”
Blaque: “The Bible tells us clearly that the law is there so that all of us may be exposed. Your Bishop. Your Apostle, your Prophet, Umthandazeli, whatever you call him, he is not above God’s law. All of us are sinners and all of us need this grace that Sane has been speaking about. The same grace that saved her and her mother. And that is what we need.
And you eloquently put it – there’s no fear in Christ. There is reverence for God because of how big He is. But a fear where you are scared for your life – not at all. So know what Jesus has done on that cross more than 2000 years ago is for you. He died for your sins. He died for your past, present and future sins. So give you life to Him.”
For a lightly edited transcript click the toggle button above.
“For me the main thing is they never presented Christ. It was always God. And it was always God in a very singular… just God. So it didn’t really matter which God, it was just a god. Not once did they ever bring up Jesus Christ. And the one time I did bring up Jesus Christ the lady was extremely offended. And I think the Bible clearly tells us that in order… one needs to go through Christ. You know what I’m saying?”
Witchcraft in the Church
Blaque: “Welcome back to The Gospel Coalition Africa Podcast. Blaque Nubon, your host, and I’m with another special guest… and she is right there! You see – why can’t all my guests just like be excited like that?! Everyone is just like…”
Saneliswe: “Guests, be excited!”
Blaque: “Be excited. What’s up Sane?”
Saneliswe: “I’m good man, how are you?”
Blaque: “Good! For those who don’t know you, can you tell us who you are, where you are from, what you are currently doing now?”
Introducing Saneliswe Jobodwana
Saneliswe: “My name is Saneliswe Jobodwana. I was born in Zambia and migrated to Australia. So, my early life was spent in Australia and then we returned back to South Africa in 1996. For the most part I have grown up between Johannesburg and Pretoria. Well currently I am a teacher and also an actor. So I am just sort of like juggling the two.”
Blaque: “And she is famous! This chick is just like “I’m an actor.” She is famous!”
Saneliswe: “Oh man! So, very, very, very in love with Christ. So thankful that he found me! So yah – I am in a good place.”
Blaque: “That’s dope. And I obviously wanna know how you met him. But before you get that – you mentioned something about being born in Zambia. And you moved back to South Africa – so I am like “why are you moving back to South Africa if you were born in Zambia?” How did your parents even end up in Zambia that you were born there?”
Saneliswe: “Yah – so my parents were heavily involved in the political struggle that was taking place in South Africa. And what had happened was that they were part of Umkhonto we Sizwe which was the military wing. And so they had been assigned to so many different places. One of them was Lesotho and then it was Zimbabwe and then when they had me they had just happened to be assigned to Zambia at the time. And that is how we ended up there. And so they left to go overseas because the struggle was coming to an end now and they also wanted to further their studies. And there were a lot of bursaries and scholarships that had been coming out at that time for refugees, and just foreigners in general, which are in need of further education.
A Foundation in Christ
Blaque: “Cool man. That’s a bit of history for you! You know what I mean! Cool man. So Jesus – yeah! How did you meet him?”
Saneliswe: “You know… OK. So it was one of those things where I never… OK, so in Australia the first thing that my mum did was associate herself with a church. And it happened to be a Baptist church at the time. And so I think the Gospel was preached in such a good way and there was such a community around her. And especially being a foreigner and also just a black woman in a predominantly white space. The first engagement I had with other races – and also white people in general – was in that Baptist church. And they were just so loving, so welcoming, so helpful! And so I was in an environment where Christ was preached. And so those are like the first 7 years of my life. So those were like the foundation phases. So I already had an understanding, to a certain extent, of who God is. But there was just no passion for God. You know? It was just like “Oh, you are preaching to me, that’s great!”
Being a Christian for me meant being a nice person. With what we understand as morals… But I had just no heart for it.
Blaque: “Like any 7 year old.”
Saneliswe: “Yeah! Being a Christian for me meant being a nice person. With what we understand as morals in terms of what is good, what is bad, and stuff like that. But I had just no heart for it.”
Understanding What Christianity Really Is
I think it only really started mattering to me when I was in grade 10. And nothing was really an event. I was extremely popular in high school. I was doing really well, I was prefect I was all of this stuff, you know? But there was just a void and there was an emptiness. There was a level of really feeling drawn towards a higher power. But I didn’t know what that higher power was. Fortunately for me God had sent missionaries who were very sound with the Gospel. And once they started preaching the word of God, that’s when everything connected. I was like “Oh! That is what it is!” And then when I started engaging with the Bible I am like, “Oh! This is what it is!” That’s why I always had an issue with “no I don’t wanna have sex before marriage” you know?
It wasn’t now just a moral thing. It was ‘this is what God requires’… All of the concepts and my ‘conscience’ and all of that started making sense.
It wasn’t now just a moral thing. It was this is what God requires. And now it makes sense. So all of the concepts and my ‘conscience’ and all of that started now making sense. That’s why I am just so grateful that even before the word of God was preached to me God had already given me a conscience. I really do think that he works thought that.
The Practice of Witchcraft
Blaque: “So we are talking about witchcraft is the big thing! But if you actually haven’t checked out the episode on witchcraft please go on the website – or here on Youtube or wherever it is that you are watching this and on our podcast as well – where we spoke to Rev. Kobedi.”
Saneliswe: “The Reverend!”
Blaque: “Yeah! About his experience with witchcraft. And so a lot of people wanted to kinda go deeper in that. And that is why we asked Sane to come and chat to us. So I think, under the umbrella of witchcraft, there’s… I don’t know what they are called in English though…”
Blaque: “So there’s a lot of different terms for them in different black communities.”
Saneliswe: “Maybe a prophet? Prophet?”
Saneliswe: “Sorta… somewhere around there?”
Blaque: “We would have to add an adjective before the term prophet – you know what I mean?”
Saneliswe: “True, true. Yah. There are just some words that… It’s like ‘yoh’. What is ‘yoh’ in English?”
Sangomas vs. Umthandazeli and Umprofethi
Blaque: “So you call them Umthandazeli. They were called Umprofethi in my hood. I don’t know what other hoods call them. But it’s basically like… They are not Sangomas.”
Saneliswe: “No. They have been… So their training is more water-based. So it won’t deal with roots and plants and stuff like that. Some of them do go into that, but it’s more water based and it’s more of a connection. Where it goes from the individual who talks to the ancestors to talk to God. And then God will say “OK, with this water I want you to pray for this person.” And it’s performance based. So if the person has been… Let’s say for instance somebody slept with somebody else outside of marriage and they contracted the HIV virus, then the Umthandazeli is not there to heal them with that water. They don’t qualify. So the person which would qualify is somebody who has had a ‘legitimate’ illness within the walls of marriage.”
Blaque: “Oh! I see, I see. If you deliberately go sin, you are on your own bro.”
Blaque: “But if life happens to you, then he can heal you.”
Saneliswe: “Yes, then he can come through. Because you are worth it. I think that’s just the foundation of that sort of religion or cult.”
Blaque: “In fact, can you explain the difference between a Sangoma – and you have obviously already alluded to the water thing – coz a Sangoma would normally use bones they would have plants… herbs… all that other kind of stuff. So can you, like for somebody who is watching this and they are like “actually I have never even heard about this!” What are some differences between the two?”
an Umthandazeli primarily works with water and not herbs. An Umthandazeli is in communication with God. And you can often find Umthandazeli at churches.
OK. I think these are differences just based on my experiences. I am sure somebody out there which has done African traditions and stuff like that might see or understand it in a different way.
Umthandazeli are found in the Church
According to my experiences it’s that an Umthandazeli primarily works with water and not herbs. An Umthandazeli is in communication with God. And you can often find Umthandazeli at churches. Like the Zionist church. You can also find them at sometimes the Methodist church. There are different other churches that you can find them at. Like AmaPostoli, you know? They also work with prophesying. So they will tell you about your future. They will tell you about what had happened to you. They will tell you where you are at – your status with God, and what God wants you to do. They rarely ever pinpoint “this person is targeting you or that person is targeting you.” It’s mainly about you as an individual. Whereas with the Sangomas that I have encountered…”
Blaque: “And these Umthandazeli have the Bible open?”
Umthandazeli… most of them have the Bible. Most of them quote scriptures. And most of them say it from a very genuine place.
Saneliswe: “Yes! Most of them have the Bible. Most of them quote scriptures. And most of them say it from a very genuine place. I think in general, when it comes to Sangomas and Umthandazeli, I think one thing that people need to know is that it’s not outwardly “I am trying to be evil!” Or “I am trying to hurt you!” Or whatever. They genuinely think that what they are doing is correct and this is how we can do it. You know?
Sangomas and their Practices
And so then when it comes to Sangomas, or the Sangomas that I have interacted with, they work with roots. They work with giving you things like luck. And making sure, like for instance, we used to use a cream which was called Phuncuka bemphethe. So, whenever evil comes towards you, or whenever somebody wants to hurt you or in any case – you will just slip out of their hand. Or if you are writing exams and you are not passing then you take some of that medication that they have given you, those roots, and you pour it onto your examination paper and then whether you studied…!
Sangomas… really do sell you all the white picket fence. They sell you the good luck. The blessings. They sell you the husband, they sell you the good job.
Blaque: “Where were these dudes when I did my matric!”
Saneliswe: “Haha! Whether you studied, or whether you’ve not studied, you are going to pass! You know, this is their calling card or whatever. And then it’s also for love. Makes sure that you… there was a bath medication that I used to use that when you were a child…”
Blaque: “The itchy stuff?”
Saneliswe: “No, it wasn’t itchy. But… I don’t know. I guess they vary!”
Blaque: “Yeah. Coz in my grandmother’s house we had that itchy stuff.”
Saneliswe: “No! It wasn’t. Thank God it wasn’t itchy! But yah – so as you grow up, you know, men can like you. And you look good and you are favourable and stuff like that. You know so that you can get married and have a child! So they really do sell you all the white picket fence. They sell you the good luck. The blessings. They sell you the husband, they sell you the good job. And then also they tell you about people in your life who are doing you wrong. And for me it was always the neighbour or it was always family. You know what I’m saying.
It was hectic stuff… if you don’t do A, B and C you are gonna die. Or you’re gonna be ill!
Blaque: “Which is literally the sum of everyone in your life.”
Blaque: “You live around neighbours, with your family!”
Saneliswe: “Exactly! So it had to be! And it was hectic stuff. Like were sending you… they sent a Meerkat to sit under your bed. I mean sit under your room and if you don’t do A, B and C you are gonna die. Or you’re gonna be ill!”
Blaque: “Yeah! We had cats on our roof!”
Saneliswe: “It’s always that. Yes!”
Blaque: “And the cats sound like humans! When they walk.”
Saneliswe: “Exactly! And you hear that and they will be like, “you know, when you hear that duff duff ek se nie – that’s them!” And so they do say things which you can… which when you go back you are like “yeah but that actually did happen!” You know – this did actually happen – you know what I’m saying?
Sexual Exchange for a Consultation
I think for me something that never… So when we would consult the things for me which always popped out that made me feel uncomfortable, was the fact that most of these Umthandazeli and most of these Sangomas that we consulted with, were men and they always wanted me to be left with them. You know, over night. Or me and my mum to be left with them overnight. And I always got the sense that they did not see me at the time – because I was a teenager – they did not see me as a young teenager. They saw something else going on there.
So there were always these sexual – is it innuendos? Or sexual vibes that I always used to get from them that would make me uncomfortable.
Promising Life or Death
they always offered you something that deep down in my heart I knew that this… only God can do this. Which was life and death.
And then secondly they always offered you something that deep down in my heart I knew that this… only God can do this. Which was life and death. So they would say “you are going to die in two days, so you must slaughter this chicken. So that you don’t die.” But how can you predict that?
Blaque: “Yeah exactly.”
Saneliswe: “Or the big thing for me was my brother had just passed away and they were like “we will bring him back.””
Saneliswe: “And that’s when I think the wires started going off in my mind and I was like “if he’s gone, there is something in me that is saying that God… The only person that could have prevented that – if it was according to his purposes and will – would have been God. And if that wasn’t prevented by Him, then who are you? You know what I’m saying?”
Blaque: “How can you claim such power?”
Saneliswe: “And this was just my young comprehension. Just putting things together. Where you are like “you know, something is not OK.””
Umthandazeli are not About Bewitching People
Blaque: “Sheesh. And then on the flip side, I think… You’ve obviously done a good job of trying to explain the differences. So if we go back to Umthandazeli, these guys wouldn’t in their intention they are not malicious in any way. They are not trying to bewitch people in your family that might be after you, by trying to bring back dead people…?”
Blaque: “But what they are doing is, “yo, we are trying to help you walk through life.””
Blaque: “So… “we commune with God…”
Blaque: “”And God tells us what’s happening in your life.”
An Kind of Trinity: God, Ancestors, Man of God
But God is not the only higher being that they commune with.”
Saneliswe: “No. They don’t.”
Blaque: “Who else do they…?”
Saneliswe: “The ancestors.”
Blaque: “OK. So they have this…”
Saneliswe: “Like a middle man.”
Blaque: “Yeah. So the ancestors are in between them and God. And so they… who do they consult first? Do they consult God first? Who speaks to the ancestors? Or…”
Saneliswe: “Normally it’s the ‘Man of God.‘”
if I am consulting with the Umthandazeli, then they will talk to the Pastor in that church. And then he will determine whether this story is worth taking to the ancestors or not.
Saneliswe: “In their lives. So if it’s… if the Umthandazeli is… if I am consulting with the Umthandazeli, then they will talk to the Pastor in that church. And then he will determine whether this story is worth taking to the ancestors or not. And then from that they consult with the ancestors. And then from the ancestors, the ancestors will then consult with God and them give them feedback on what God has said. You know? So in a way they are like… the ancestors and the ‘Man of God’ is like the Holy Spirit? In a way?
Blaque: “That’s why I was laughing earlier on because I’m like… it just sounds like the trinity that they have formed for themselves.”
You Get What People Think you Deserve
Saneliswe: “Yes, absolutely. And also I think I need to like emphasise that this whole thing is performance based. Based on what people think is moral and not moral. And what people deserve and what they don’t deserve. You know? Which is a complete contradiction to the Gospel! So that was the big thing.
this whole thing is performance based. Based on what people think is moral and not moral and what people deserve and what they don’t deserve. It is a complete contradiction to the Gospel!
But in terms of intentions, I have also come across Sangomas which I don’t think their intentions were malicious. I’ve come across Umthandazeli which I don’t think their intentions were malicious. So I think that subconsciously they have… they are operating in evil. And I mean if you are not for Christ then, you know…”
Blaque: “You are against him yeah.”
Saneliswe: “Exactly. So it’s one of those situations. And that is where the difficulty comes in.”
But How can there be Witchcraft in the Church?
Blaque: “Yeah. So I think just if somebody is listening to this and they are thinking to themselves “but like these guys are at church!” You know what I mean? So… what’s the issue? As we were chatting off camera like one of the conversations we had is that these guys have the Bible open. So when people go to them they are like “yah, they might be talking to ancestors but they justify it with the scriptures.”
These guys have the Bible open. So when people go to them they are like “yah, they might be talking to ancestors but they justify it with the scriptures.”
So it’s not like a Sangoma where you walk in, there is no Bible at all. And when you walk out you know there was no God factor in there. There was nothing. I was directly talking to the ancestors. This guy was the medium whatever the case is. But these dudes here, they are like “no but we open the Bible! We have the church uniform.” Like, your grandmother wears that uniform.”
Witchcraft in the Church: What to look out for…
Blaque: “”And we have a building where we all meet.” So… what are some things that people can look out for that…”
the main thing is they never presented Christ. It was always God. And it was always God in a very singular… just God… Not once did they ever bring up Jesus Christ.
Saneliswe: “I don’t think I can really tell you what are things. For me the main thing is they never presented Christ. It was always God. And it was always God in a very singular… just God. So it didn’t really matter which God, it was just a god. Not once did they ever bring up Jesus Christ.
There is no Mention of Jesus Christ
The one time I did bring up Jesus Christ the lady was extremely offended. And I think the Bible clearly tells us that in order… one needs to go through Christ. You know what I’m saying? That is the entire thing you know? So, for me, if it does not have Christ involved, if it’s not the trinity, then it’s not legit.
Blaque: “Sure. Did you have a conversation with this lady about why she is angry?”
Saneliswe: “No I didn’t! Because I was like a little girl at the time, you know? I was a teenage girl. And I was like, I remember in the consultation I was like… oh! This was when I was telling her that I said to my mum that morning “I’ll come with you but I’m no longer using the medication.” I had thrown away… I had burnt all that medication with all my brother’s CDs – rap CDs! I burnt everything! I was now in Christ!!”
Blaque: “2Pac belongs in the ashes! With these guys’ medication!”
Saneliswe: “Eminem! All of that. And that’s when I was like – this brother was built for me. I was created to be his sister because I… it’s so unforgivable, you know!? So I had burnt all the medication and I had told my parents.
That was one of the reasons why me and my Dad don’t talk to this day! Because I had said that. And it was such a conflict because at the same time you need to respect your parents – you know – that’s a requirement. But at the same time I knew that if I continue in this then I am choosing a god. You know so it was just such a struggle!
If it does not have Christ involved, if it’s not the trinity, then it’s not legit.
But I think the mark for me in terms of completely just denouncing that faith is the fact that there was a piece that came in that if I follow Christ everything will be sorted out. And at the end of the day God knows my heart. That for me was the big thing. That this woman… none of them talked about Christ. And when it was brought up she was very angry. Angry to the point where she chucked me out.”
Saneliswe: “Because she even said the line “we uthando God” (“You love God.”) And that was something that rang though my mind constantly. That “why don’t you want that?!” You know? “What is the big deal with that? You were OK with God, right up until I said that.””
Family Divisions Over Ancestor Worship
Blaque: “In fact, I’m not surprise that you went through that, because I went through that myself.”
Blaque: “Yeah, with my Dad.”
it’s very syncretistic… congregants in the church can go consult Sangomas and still come back to the church and say “the Sangoma said this” and still consult Umthandazeli in the church as well.
Blaque: “So in fact what he said to me – coz he goes to one of these churches. And so it is very syncretistic, obviously. You worship ancestors, you worship God. And so congregants in the church can go consult Sangomas and still come back to the church and say “the Sangoma said this” and still consult Umthandazeli in the church as well. So its fine – like you can bring all of it – you know what I mean.
So I remember having a conversation with him and obviously I told him like “I believe in Jesus and he is the focal point of the Bible.” And so he was like “yo! First of all, Jesus was a dude like the rest of us. He was a man. And he was white” – which is obviously a lie. But “if I can worship a white man I did not know, I’ve never seen, who am I to tell him that he can’t worship his ancestors who he shares the same blood with. Who he has seen.” So even on that basis alone he has a better advantage than me. He is worshiping people he has a close connection with. He shares the same blood. He’s seen them – he has touched them. I’m claiming that I’m saved by a guy who’s blood does not run in my veins. So we had the conversation – chatted, chatted, chatted. Eventually he was like “yo listen! It’s actually disrespectful for you to put Jesus above me as your father. The order is God, me as your father, then whoever and then Jesus somewhere.” You know what I mean? And I was like “Oh smack!” So I get… we can go through a list of things to identify but the main heart is they don’t want Jesus!”
Blaque: “They are cool with God. They are cool with the ancestors. But the minute you say “Jesus is God. He is the one that you have to go to in order for you to go to God.” It is like “nah!” you’ve messed up the whole thing.”
the minute you say “Jesus is God. He is the one that you have to go to in order for you to go to God.” It is like “nah!” you’ve messed up the whole thing
Saneliswe: “And that’s the whole thing! That’s the Gospel! Cut him out there’s nothing.”
Blaque: “You chatted about your mum – earlier on – just being involved in this kind of stuff. Run us through that experience. Somebody who’s watching this might be thinking… I shared about my Dad, you shared about yours, but there’s more stories in light of all of this about your mum. Would you care to share?
How My Mum Became a Sangoma
Saneliswe: “OK. So, what had happened was the more we were consulting with these people, and I just, I need to say that there was such a focus on fear. And captivity. So there was always “if you don’t do this you will die. If you don’t do this your ancestors will be angry at you.” I was even told…”
Blaque: “”If you don’t do this you will be poor.”
Her firstborn child had passed away. So their explanation was ‘the ancestors are angry at you! The ancestors of your husband’s side are angry at your because your husband is angry at you.’
Saneliswe: “Exactly! So there is always fear involved. Whereas in Christ it’s always freedom. It’s always love, its always peace. So you know, that in itself also is kind of like the distinction of the two. And so what they said is… my mum wasn’t getting employment. Her marriage wasn’t in a good position. Things were just really going wrong. Her firstborn child had passed away. So their explanation was ‘the ancestors are angry at you! The ancestors of your husband’s side are angry at your because your husband is angry at you.’
And so here is the thing, my Dad was severely abusive. And he is still very, quite abusive. And so their reasoning for his abuse is because my mum was just not a good person. You know?”
Saneliswe: “Or my mum was giving him a difficult time. So not only does she now have to plead with his ancestors, so that her life goes well, she also has to apologise to him!”
Blaque: “Wow! Sure!”
Saneliswe: “And so with all of that their whole thing was “if you don’t want to do that – if you don’t want to go to your husband’s ancestors and plead with them and stuff like that – then you have to answer the calling over your life.”
Saneliswe: “So these are the two options that you have. And if you don’t wanna do that one…”
Blaque: “So you are losing either way.”
Saneliswe: “You are gonna lose either way.”
Blaque: “You are already pressed to the corner and you have to apologise for that, if you don’t…”
Saneliswe: “Exactly. And they used the “your older child has already passed away – you don’t want your other two children to pass away!” And as a single mother – because my Dad was not really present – it was one of those things whereby “OK I don’t want my children to die. I don’t have work. I don’t have this…” they really get your weak points, you know what I am saying.”
Training as a Sangoma
So she went in for the initiation and she was there for three weeks. Had a terrible experience. She was not fed. She had to wash from a wascom – you know, she was not allowed out of a confined space for two weeks. She couldn’t engage with her children. She couldn’t engage with anybody outside of that space. The way she was taught the roots and stuff like that was under a very oppressive, two oppressive… an oppressive couple which for every root she learnt about, she had to pay an amount.”
For every root she learnt about, she had to pay an amount
Saneliswe: “So it was extremely oppressive.”
Blaque: “So let’s make some money on top of that!”
Leaning on Christ in Hardship
Saneliswe: “Exactly! So she had a really bad experience with it but you know she turned it around. In the sense that there were points that she picked up. And she was like “had I not have gone through that experience I don’t think I would have known God in the way that I have known Him.” Because the only person she had to lean on was Christ. Which became very beautiful in that sense. But that is what she went through.”
Blaque: “So with all of this that is happening – I mean let’s pop in with your mum. You guys when to a Baptist church when you were like 7. And now you are back here and all of this stuff is popping. You, in your 14 year old brain, you are thinking about all this stuff. When is the breaking point when you both like “listen – it’s Jesus or nothing.””
God just gave us that conviction. There was just a conviction of “this is nonsense. If we die we die! If we don’t have money we don’t have money! And let’s see! Let’s see if God is God.
Saneliswe: “I can’t say it was anything that… I can’t say we took a decision. I felt like God just gave us that conviction. There was just a conviction of “this is nonsense. If we die we die! If we don’t have money we don’t have money! And let’s see! Let’s see if God is God.” You know what I’m saying? And I know that that’s not my conviction because I tend sometimes to be very wimpy. Like “Oh! I can’t do that – oh hey!” You know what I’m saying? But there was just a conviction that… and I think my mum seeing how convicted I was convicted her. She often says that “Jees – you know when you were at that age and you were saying this stuff I was like – yoh – OK I kind of also need to…”
Blaque: “As the adult!”
Saneliswe: “Yah! You know! And that’s why I really do think that it’s really good to have a childlike character when it comes to God. I understand why he alludes to that in the Bible. Because there is just a freedom that children have that “I’m gonna do this and if it turns out really badly I’ll well you know!”
Blaque: “As a kid I don’t think about the consequences…”
Saneliswe: “Obviously there is wisdom and blah blah blah. So it was one of those that I really had a conviction and fortunately we had a conviction at the same time. That this is nonsense. We are not gonna do this. If we die it’s OK. If we don’t have money that’s also OK and whatever.
Christ Puts an End to Fear
My whole thing was “I don’t wanna sleep scared anymore. I don’t wanna wonder if I am goanna die or not. I don’t wanna feel like there are Meerkats and there is this and that. I don’t wanna wear a rope around me! I don’t wanna go and tie… you know. I don’t want that! Psychologically I am not in a good place because of all of this! So let me see what Jesus can do.”
But I just wanna make it clear that that was not a conviction that just came about. It was a conviction that I really do believe that God gave me.”
Blaque: “Yeah the Holy Spirit.”
Saneliswe: “From there, things cleared out. I mean it was actually like ridiculous! There was no more fear anymore. You didn’t have to hide your things when you were at swimming galas and things like that because your cream has stuff inside there! You didn’t have to explain to people why you are putting stuff on your eyebrows or whatever. And then also if things happen, this is life, things happen!”
Blaque: “The world is broken. The world is fallen. There is sin in the world.
Witchcraft Feeds on a Cycle of Fear and Power
So I was saying that, in our previous podcast, I kind of described the cycle that Sangomas keep us in. Particularly like with worship to ancestors. Which is fear and power. So you are fearful and you go to a Sangoma. He or she shows you how powerful the ancestors are. They resolve your problem and then you are fine for a moment or whatever, and then another fear creeps in, and you go back to them again and it’s power. And then you go back and it’s fear. You know what I mean? And those two concepts work well in African culture.”
Blaque: “Because if you take the Asian culture, for example, they have honour and shame. It’s a very honour and shame based culture. So I am like if they dabbled in ancestors their ancestors would play on their shame. They are very afraid of putting their family to shame. They are very afraid of appearing as shameful people in society. So what the ancestors would promise them is honour. And then whenever another shameful situation appears they will go back to consulting them so that they can get honour. But for Africans it’s fear and power. And they play on that. Again, another thing, I am like I have never heard of anyone who goes to a Sangoma even Umthandazeli and Umprofethi just to hang out. You go hang out with God. People think we go to church just so that we can get stuff from God. No! I love God’s people. I love hearing from God. I just wanna go pray to God and just be like “thanks for the week” or just “here’s how I’m doing” or whatever the case is. But I am like with ancestors, or Umprofethis, Sangoma…
Saneliswe: “Give and take.”
Blaque: “Yah. I’ve never heard of anyone who is just like “nah I’m just gonna go and hang out. Check out how the ancestors are. Just be like are you guys cool? I’m alright. I’m also cool. i just wanted to let you know I’m cool.” Whatever, I’m just like – it’s always a thing. It has to be a big event. Somebody is dying, somebody needs a job. Somebody is bewitching me! Even good events. Like we had a baby, now it’s like cool – we need to go thank them.”
Saneliswe: “Slaughter, yes.”
Blaque: “Somebody is dead – we need to go tell them that somebody’s joining you or something. Whatever the case is. Just ordinary normal life they don’t feature!”
Blaque: “Until something big happens.”
Longing for Consistency and Accountability
Saneliswe: “And also there is just no accountability. For behaviour. You can be any which way. You can be an extremely abusive human being. You can be somebody who isn’t… you know there is no conduct in terms of your character. There is no teaching you how to be a specific way. There is no reaching out to the next person. You know there is no making sure that your community… there is no community! In general. So there is just no accountability whatsoever. And it’s very deep in patriarchy. You know there is a lot of patriarchy and women are blamed for a lot of things you know? Which that actually speaks to society in general. It’s not just that. But that is another thing for me that is…”
Blaque: “But I would say – let’s double tap on that – it’s more used there because there is the God element…”
Saneliswe: “It’s more condoned”
Blaque: “…there is the ancestral element. So it’s like “if you are not gonna listen to me – these dudes game me authority. These dudes made me. So you had better!” And it is just more fear. And again you mentioned the point of community. I don’t think community would exist when there is secrecy. You know what I mean?”
Saneliswe: “Way too much secrecy! And also I need to one up you constantly! You know I think with the ama 2000s and you know with where the world is right now there is that sense of “I burn impepho, I have a conversation with my ancestors” you know? In that sense. But again, you know, it’s not… it’s still a take and a take and a take.
And there are no long lasting eternal effects. There isn’t a promise of what’s going to happen on the other side. If God has given us absolutely nothing in this lifetime, like if you are just poverty stricken and you are disabled and there is nothing else for you, you’ve got eternity. And that is the biggest deal of all deals.”
Saneliswe: “Yet still God provides for us. He keeps us. And in all of these things. So there is just no long lasting effects. There’s no long term plan. And then also you now also have the psychology and the emotional effects of “I am praying to an ancestor who was highly abusive when they were alive.” Or “I am praying to a grandfather or a grandmother who was absent!” What are they doing for me on that other side that they couldn’t do for me on this side? You know what I am saying?
Blaque: “Suddenly your affections change. I am like ‘you didn’t care for me here.'”
Saneliswe: “‘But suddenly now you care for me on the other side?’ And then also it’s with terms and conditions. Lots of terms and conditions.”
Christ is Consistent and Delivers on his Promises
Blaque: “On the flip side, when Jesus cared for us when he was on earth, he cared for us! Now that he is in heaven… you know what I mean?”
Saneliswe: “Exactly! Consistent! There is consistency.”
Blaque: “He always loved us. Before the foundations of the earth his love was there.”
Saneliswe: “Yes. No matter how undeserving we are. And that is it! That it. There is no ‘mar what whats’ in between. There is no catch over there. You know that’s why I guess it is very, very frustrating when you do go to a church and you know the blessing is attached to a car. Or the blessing is attached to a this. You know which I do believe is a form of witchcraft too. So it can tap into that.”
Witchcraft is Performance Based – There is No Grace
Blaque: “There is something that you mentioned earlier on. Just about how this whole thing is performance based. And obviously that directly contradicts the Gospel of grace. Care to explain more for us? Like what do you mean that it’s performance based? Give us examples.
Saneliswe: “The one example I can give to you is the one Sangoma that we went to was consulting with families before they consulted with a single mother. Even if the single mother came before the family was there. So, based on that performance, this is a lady who has a husband, so she is of more value.She is more wise. And they actually need more help because there are children involved. And it’s a family and the ancestors honour family. OK?
So already, this woman is at the bottom of the pile. Having to wait for all of these other families which are coming through, because she is single. Clearly she made a mistake in life or whatever. This is their understanding. And she doesn’t deserve to be treated as equal because of that. And also performance based on how are you… how much money are you giving me? What are you willing to give up in order for me to be able to do this for you?
Performance based also sexually. I do know that there is a trade that could have happened if my Dad was only alive. You know? In terms of… and he probably wouldn’t even know that he’s doing the trade. But it’s “leave your daughter – I need to work with her – you don’t have to pay me.” Do you get what I am saying? That is not straight up prostitution. It give you a reason that “hey, I am gonna actually be helping your daughter.” But if my mum wasn’t there it would be like “no, why must my daughter stay? Why is she staying the whole night with you? For what? Were is she gonna sleep?” You know what I am saying? So performance based in that sense.
That people believe that if you are a ‘good citizen’ with high morals then you deserve to be treated a specific way. And then just in general like the ancestors. It’s “I will give you blessings and this and this if you do A, B and C for me.” So in that sense. Whereas in Christ there is just absolutely nothing I can do to receive the grace of God. There is nothing I can do to receive conviction in my heart. Before I even know what love was I was loved.”
Saneliswe: “And even when I do trip up now, I am still gonna be loved. And you know, eternity is guaranteed. There’s no terms and conditions. Whether I am the best person or really the worst person – that’s what it is. But also there are benefits! Like you are gonna want to do good if you are in Christ. It’s just, you are gonna want to be that way.”
Blaque: “Its the fruit.”
Saneliswe: “Exactly. It’s just what it is. Fruits that don’t even need to be what the world says fruits are.”
Blaque: “That’s good man! I’m just thinking about somebody who’s in one of these churches and if you have read any page in the Bible you will know that you are a sinner.”
The Similarities between Umthandazeli and the Pharisees
Blaque: “I think that Romans 3 particularly. No one is good. No one does what is good. No one does what is righteous. No one seeks God. So I am thinking about somebody who is in a church like that. Quote unquote “church.” And they are like “yo listen, I know I am a rubbish sinner, but does this like pharisee tendency that Umprofethi, Umthandazeli promote, that will only deal with the pharisees basically. People who uphold the law, people who are morally good. People who say the right things. When they come for consultations – yo we will talk to those guys. But if you go out and have sex before marriage – yo that’s on you – God does not care about that. Your ancestors don’t even care about that.”
Saneliswe: “And yet there is no accountability!”
Saneliswe: “So if you do steal, or you do have sex before marriage the ancestors don’t… you know there is nothing. There is nothing there. There is no accountability for your character and whatever. But at the same time if you do do it we are not gonna deal with you.”
Blaque: “If we find out…”
Saneliswe: “Lots of contradictions.”
Blaque: “Elevating themselves again. So I think that’s another big thing. And it feeds to the fear. If obviously I’ve messed up and these dudes are the only people that can actually get my soul cleansed, I am not gonna tell them! That this is what I did. I am fearful so I will probably go talk to them under a different guise or whatever. And I am just like that is not Gospel at all.
Looking for Answers? Read the Bible and Pray
Saneliswe: “I think the biggest thing that I just want people to know is that you can question. You can really. The Holy Spirit is so available. And if you are confused when you are in a church that doesn’t necessarily present it to you, go to your Bible! Pray to God. You will have answers. You will have a way out. I know for me when I was making the transition – the two times I was making the transition! From abu umthandazeli into Christ, and also when I was in a charismatic church which just really wasn’t preaching it the right way. You know I thought I had to be saved many times! You know – it order to be saved!
Blaque: “Yeah every Sunday.
Blaque: “We should actually have a podcast about the alter call guys!
Saneliswe: “No really! I think the thing which helped me the most was a guys from the Baptist church who I used to work with at CUM books was like, “just go and read the first 4 books in the New Testament and that will sort of explain I think the Gospel to you and make you understand what your standing is. Who is Christ, what has he done for us, what is the Trinity and all of that stuff that will give you a nice understanding of that.” And then pray. That’s it. I am big on the church but whilst you are transitioning and you are not really… you don’t really know where to go. That is your biggest ally. The Bible and prayer is your biggest ally.”
Saneliswe: “So I think that that’s the big thing.”
The Only Way is Jesus
Blaque: “Yeah. That’s good! On that note it is true, the only way out is Jesus. No one is above the law of God. The Bible tells us clearly that the law is there so that all of us may be exposed. Your Bishop. Your Apostle, your Prophet, Umthandazeli, whatever you call him, he is not above God’s law. All of us are sinners and all of us need this grace that Sane has been speaking about. The same grace that saved her and her mother. And that is what we need.
And you eloquently put it – there’s no fear in Christ. There is reverence for God because of how big He is. But a fear where you are scared for your life – not at all. So know what Jesus has done on that cross more than 2000 years ago is for you. He died for your sins. He died for your past, present and future sins. So give you life to Him.
And with that said man thank you so much for watching! Thank you so much Sane for… I don’t know if we are high-fiving we are fist-pumping! Are we doing gang signs?”
Saneliswe: “No! come on we were born in the 80s. Not them. We are not there – no.
Blaque: “Thank you so much for this. I hope it was encouraging. Please share it – let other people know. And we are gonna make more podcasts and episodes around the topic of witchcraft and just ancestors and that kinda world. So please do follow and subscribe to all our channels and everything else that we put out man. With that said thank you so much. Peace and Grace.”