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Thu Jan 24, 2013 4:31 am by Admin



Utopia Forum is almost complete and is now ready for all new members and visitors.

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British banking consultant turns South African witch doctor

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British banking consultant turns South African witch doctor

Post  Admin on Wed Jul 06, 2011 1:48 am

A British banking consultant has retrained as a witch doctor after a gruelling three months' initiation in the South African bush.



Thomas Heathfield, 32, whose family hail from Maidenhead in Berkshire, renounced sleep for three days, rose at 2.30am to dance for the tribal ancestors and vomited up goats' bloods as part of his training to become a "sangoma".
He slept out in the bush, wore traditional robes and was sent to hunt for the animal body parts hidden by locals in the remote village of Mangweni, close to the Mozambican border in Mpumalanga province.
He had to learn enough of the local siSwati language to understand his instructors, who also gave him a new name, Gogo Mndawe.
He was banned from all contact with family and friends until last Sunday, when his parents Ally and Brian Heathfield flew out to South Africa to attend his graduation ceremony.
Speaking to The Daily Telegraph yesterday, he said he first learned about sangomas from a local friend and spent many years studying the practice before giving up his job advising banks on risk and information security in February to train as one himself.


"It's not something you just decide to do – it chooses you rather than the other way round and it's such a massive process that you don't enter into it lightly," he said.
"Some people might see this as a weird decision because I had a successful job in the UK and quite a nice life.
"This is very different and there was a period of learning to renounce control, to think less and do more. Before, I was paid to ask questions but here, questions aren't important. It's about doing things without asking."
He conceded that locals might have initially been nonplussed about a white man training as a sangoma, whose skills including reading bones and prescribing herbal cures are sought out by an estimated 50 per cent of South Africans.
"People are curious as to what brings you here and whether your spirits are the same as African spirits, but when they see you dance, perhaps those questions go away," he said.
While still undecided about how he will use his new-found skills, he intends to settle in Cape Town and buy a house.
And despite the seemingly strange and secretive rituals, he insists that Westerners can learn much from sangomas.
"It's very much grounded and there's nothing New Age or airy fairy about it, you get your hands dirty," he said.
"Here, if they want a chicken to eat, they kill it. In England I'd have gone to the supermarket.
"Having said that, I really miss Starbucks coffee."
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