Psychologist, healer raises the bar for African spirituality

An academic, a psychologist, an activist, a gay black man and a healer. These are just some of the adjectives Anele Siswana uses to describe who he is, young black South African who is using his spiritual gift together with his profession to help address issues of mental health. The 33-year-old from Gqeberha’s Kwa-zakhele township, believes his calling to be a psychologist, dates back to his childhood when he went through confusing challenges he could not decipher, and later found refuge and a voice through psychology.
Out in Africa’s richest square mile, Sandton, where he established his private practice In 2015, Siswana describes his offices as a space for both worlds, a space that has brought realisation to many that there are psychologists who can understand beyond the scientific work of creating a conducive space with sacred elements such as icans (grass-mat), ukhamba (calabash) and candles that have been used by spiritualists for many years.
“Initially when I was starting to figure out how these things work, the Integrations of the spintual and the pure western psychology, it was a matter of an experiment. “The patients that I have are people with varying issues like surnames, where one would think changing their surname or dis- covering their real one is just a simple thing. *But there is psychology Involved, which made me immerse myself in traditions and culture. Understanding the value of a simple Anele Siswana vantaged or poor family where my reality didn’t amount to anything that would help me define myself in the way that I am and that I do at the moment. “Growing up there I have always wanted to check the possibility of another experience that was not whatam used to. “So I started looking at life around broadly and had mentors who saw potential in me and they tried to help me navigate life. “Being a psychologist now, I realise that l have always related to the world from a point of healing because I myself had very difficult experiences. I started at a very young age being attracted to boys and I didn’t have a name for that attraction and even that came thing like imbeleko, a simple thing called umemulo – rituals that bring a sense of wholeness to someone. I then realised that beyond spirituality, there are cultural elements which can touch on mental Issues. “Instead, I refer my clients to a trusted network of sangomas for additional physical work and then I keep in touch with those sangomas to bring holistic solution for the client. But there are clients that would say 1 have been sent to you by idlozi and because the punctuation is different, the kind of healing they are seeking already suggests the dabbling between the two. In such a case, atter caretul consultation with the client, he would suggest the appropriate healing emsamo. “That means we won’t continue with the therapeutic process, as I am guided by the needs of the client. ” come from what consider a disadreality was you need to feel something for girls.
Psychology offered him the confidence to be himself unashamedly and through his work, he aims to give his patients the same freedom, spiritually or scientifically. “So celebrating African-ness that exists in different spaces is about reawakening the essence or who we are which was lost due fo colonisation and modernitv. *I think also the concept of Africa month recognises and appreciates our work as Afri- My work is exactly that, the appreciation of the core of being African daily, even In spaces wherehflines wien psychologists like me, healers like me are given credibility because the general assumption is that being a healer is something that is accepted by uneducated people,*he said.