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Black Bull, Ancestors and Me: My Life as a Lesbian Sangoma

Nkunzi Zandile Nkabinde

As a sangoma (traditional healer), Nkunzi is able to explore dimensions of her sexual identity because of her relationship with both male and female ancestors. 'In Zulu culture a man must be a man and do male things and a woman must be a woman and do female things but with sangomas it is more flexible. I can dance like a woman and wear a woman's clothes and dance like a man and wear a man's clothes. I can do the work of a man, like slaughtering a goat or a cow although in traditional Zulu culture a woman cannot slaughter …'

Conscious of her constitutional rights as an urban young lesbian in a time of a relentless spate of hate crimes against township lesbians, Nkunzi is simultaneously sensitive to the demands of the guiding ancestral voice of the traditional, rural Zulu patriarch whose name she bears. Her quest is for a middle path of balance and integration between the living and the dead, the traditional and the modern.

About the author

Nkunzi Zandile Nkabinde was born on 7 December 1975. She comes from a family of six children of which she is the third child. Her given name is Zandile. She says that she was born a lesbian. She had just started to study journalism when she received her calling to become a sangoma (traditional healer). During that time she was also named for her ancestor Nkunzi (Black Bull), who gives her her healing powers. She is proud of being a lesbian and a sangoma. After completing her training, she practised in Soweto where she lived until 2004, when she got a job as a tour guide at Constitution Hill. She still practises as a sangoma. All her life she has dreamt of becoming a writer and hopes that this book is her first step.


Publisher: Fanele, an imprint of Jacana Media
ISBN: 9781920196066
Format: paperback
Pages: 166 pp

Black Bull