uGobela – The African Spiritual Hierarchy

uGobela, derived from the Nguni term “goba”, is a highly honoured healer/teacher whose role is to initiate and guide those who are called to become traditional healers. A gobela guides their initiates through their ancestral journey, instilling them with ancient sacred traditions to be passed down the generations of healers. The responsibilities of a gobela are numerous and crucial to the survival of indigenous spiritual practice. In the documentary, we go into detail about the role that a gobela plays in the initiation of iSangoma and the origins of this sacred hierarchy in African Spirituality.

On the spiritual path to becoming a traditional healer (iSangoma), a Gobela is the person chosen by your ancestors to execute your training and guide you along the process that your ancestors need you to undergo in order to utilise the gifts which have been given to you. This relationship is crucial to ensure that you grow as a healer and reach your highest spiritual potential. It is important that you find a Gobela and a spiritual home that is right for you.

Photographed by Zani Tsabedze

Having experienced the training (thwasa) process, Celi Nhlengethwa, sheds light on some important points to consider when seeking out a gobela to guide you through the journal to becoming a sangoma:

1. Do not be recruited.

Kuthwasisa is not a business. It shouldn’t be. There are all kinds of recruitment techniques used by out-for-a-quick-rand gobelas. These work because before uphehlo and ntwaso you are in desperate need for spiritual help and oftentimes have no idea where to go for it because of our upbringing.

2. Do your research.

Find information on the person. Interrogate their spiritual integrity. As you would anything that matters. Your spirit is your very essence surpassing all in importance because this part of you lives forever and it governs your physical.

Photographed by Sipho Mabuza

3. Find out who trained them. 

This is important because this will be your mpandze, your spiritual home. You want to be long to a clean mpandze that will also make sure that the skhwamas you are being gifted with are cleansed, I assume.

4. Find out how long they were in training.

I don’t believe in 3-month training that produces gobelas.
Even a year’s training does not a gobela make. A gobela does not just initiate, she also guides, has had good muthi training, has used muthi to heal herself and others, understands spiritual integrity, etc. A 3-month trained gobela knows nothing. This is why spirituals find themselves seeking regulation to restore the integrity of the calling.

Photographed by Zani Tsabedze

5. Trust your intuition.

You will hear stories of how people walk kilometres and wake up at their gobelas doors. I hope that will not be you. I hope your madlotis will find other ways to guide you to your gobela. Dreams, visions, voices, intuition, feelings, other people, etc and a combination of these are ways that your people communicate. Spirit does not guide blindly. Unless you have learnt to listen to spirit you will attribute even nonsense to spirit.

One thought on “uGobela – The African Spiritual Hierarchy

  1. I am in need of help to find my gobela as I’ve been told before that my gift is long over due and I should have gone thru all the stages of “ukuthwasa” now I am puzzled as I do not wanna fall into the wrong hands and really want to go thru this whole process and follow into my ancestors footsteps and accept my calling fully


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