@Noksangoma explains the five types of spirits you may not have known about

Known online as @Noksangoma, Johannesburg-based Nokulinda Mkhize (31) is a recognisable figure in the realm of ancestral-based healing and spirituality in the digital age.

The sangoma has formidable Twitter and Instagram followings, as well as a YouTube channel on which she breaks down complex esoteric intelligence to laypeople in a language and style relatable to their everyday experiences of love, sex, money and more.

Here she gives the Mail & Guardian an amaDlozi 101 analysis of the various types of ancestors and spirits that exist in the bloodlines of Southern Africans. This is a summary of a comprehensive breakdown she gives on her YouTube channel, which we highly recommend you visit after reading this.

Blood spirits

There are two types, related to us through blood.


  • Named after: Mandinka
  • Geographic context: They come from West Africa
  • Who: Our oldest blood ancestors
  • Role: Messenger and custodian
  • Mndiki and your body: The energy of uMndiki affects your emotional and intellectual faculties. uMndiki is felt in your crown chakra


  • Named after: Nguni
  • Geographic context: They are from Southern Africa
  • Who: A family ancestor such as a great-grandmother or great-grandfather
  • Role: Protector and guide
  • Mnguni and your body: The energy of uMnguni affects your physical body and physical reality. umNguni is felt in your solar plexus

Water spirits

The water spirits are related to us through commerce and conquest.


  • Named after: Ndau
  • Geographic context: They are from Southeast Africa
  • Who: Related to your bloodline only by commerce and conquest (they might be of European traders who interacted with your ancestors)
  • Role: umNdau takes care of the worldly aspects your life, including the sexual
  • umNdau and your body: The energy of umNdau affects your money, sex drive and fertility cycles. umNdau is felt in your base chakra


  • Little is known about them
  • Named after: Lozi
  • Geographic context: Central and Southern Africa
  • Only iZangoma have them
  • They communicate in audible whistles


  • Prophetic spirit
  • Umthandazi/Prophet as seen in churches such as amaZayoni. Does similar work to iZangoma, but is not initiated in any particular way
  • This spirit is not limited to human beings. It’s a universal spirit also found in nature and outer space
  • There are similarities between abathandazi/abaphorofethi and Ifa practices (diaspora expressions, for example Candomblé, voodoo and Santeria.)

In September 2016, Noksangoma will give a public talk titled Ubizo, Mental Health and Intergenerational Trauma, which gives a contemporary perspective on the ancestral and psychological landscape of the inherited pain and strife of black South Africans.

Citing reasons for the public talk on Twitter last week, she says: “I decided that it’s time to address the issue of ubizo [the calling] and what it looks like in relation to mental health issues and the pain of our ancestors and the pain we carry with us, as people, especially black people.”

In addition, she will present a map of the beliefs and cosmologies of iSintu — systems of beliefs, views and practices that are indigenous to the people and cultures of aBantu — and how they affect people’s world views regarding mental and physical health. And she will decode the lexicon of dreams, “witchcraft” and other supernatural phenomena to understand spiritual, emotional and mental distress.

Ubizo takes place at the New Victory Theatre in Johannesburg at 10.30am on September 3 and at the Durban University of Technology’s Steve Biko Campus Library Gardens at 12.30pm and KwaMuhle Museum at 5.45pm on September 9. Go to www.ithonga.co.za/gogospeaksjhb and www.ithonga.co.za/gogospeaksdbn for more information. 

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Milisuthando Bongela
Milisuthando Bongela is the Mail & Guardians arts and culture editor. She is a multi award-winning writer, blogger and collaborator. She has experience in the arts having worked in fashion, music, art and film as well as a decade-long career in consulting, entrepreneurship, blogging and cultural activism. She is also directing a documentary about hair and black identity, a film she calls the report card on the rainbow nation project.

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