Just Another Day in the Life

Of an American digital nomad music therapist student at the University of Pretoria in Cape Town.

So. Our au pair offered to take us to her witch doctor here. Naturally I jumped at the chance. Wouldn’t you?

Then of course, when I mentioned this to two visiting friends from the States, one of whom we had met in Guatemala, and her roommate, they also requested to come along.

So it was that we had a nice family road trip out to Khayelitsha, the largest township in South Africa, with two children, two casting directors from LA, a Xhosa au pair and a music therapist in training.

In case you don’t know the term:

Township: a suburb or city of predominantly black occupation, formerly officially designated for black occupation by apartheid legislation.


It was a surprise to see a white woman pull up in the Uber. Since it’s almost guaranteed, the drivers are black immigrants, often from Zimbabwe.


We drove for 40 minutes while Zim explained what a sangoma actually is.

Our Uber driver warned us that the spirits in the room come from another dimension and that she would recommend taking some sort of protection and perhaps it would be better not to go at all.

Then we met with our au pair’s boyfriend who wanted to warn us of the dangers.


The dangers consisted of: getting too emotional, hearing negative things, and getting fake information.

The caution was that 70 to 80% of sangomas are fake. And that we could listen to our ancestors and they would tell us if the information was true.

We went to a waiting room with drums, broken chairs, and flies inside a blue broken building.

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There was a man there, telling me how he loves prawn now after working as a deck hand for a tourist sunset ship, and how he had a great experience with this sangoma, so he travelled far—20 km—to speak with her.

I went in, curious, a little nervous but definitely not scared because I had serious doubts about this. I had never been to a psychic.

But I did get my patriarchal blessing, and I told myself this was similar.



A patriarchal blessing in the LDS faith is where someone ordained with the priesthood can lay his hands on your head and tell you about your future, and bless you, as inspired direction from Heavenly Father. One aspect of the blessing is you are told your lineage-which of the twelve tribes of Israel you descend from.

Zim and I walked together to the tent. The sangoma was an old lady with swollen legs sitting on a bed inside with a younger man with long braided hair sitting on a chair.

The bones were thrown and she began to read them. The young man was getting very excited translating for her.

I was told a lot of surreal stuff. She just dove right in to telling me…


I am the chosen one.

I have a connection to my ancestors.

They show me things in my dreams.

They are true.

Sometimes when you see a person it’s like you’ve seen that person before, or a place.

When something is going to happen to your family, you always see it coming.

Someone died in war who was not buried

I have a very special gift…

I am supposed to be a sangoma.

I am a sangoma actually

There are family secrets in the old building

When I am in the zone when I’m doing music the ancestors come out.

When I am on stage I have some fear but once I do my thing my ancestors take over.

I loved music from a very young age.

I was born for what I am doing.

Someone in my family was gifted to be a writer but I am gifted to be a musician and that will bring me the most money.

Someone in my family died here in SA and that’s why I am here.

Things are going to go better and better for me

I’m going to go very very far

She is scared to look at me because I am so powerful

The ancestors say I get sick of the man around me

But we are going to be together for a long time

I get tired of him but is not my doing, it is ancestor’s doing

He understands me.

We are connected. There is no less side to each other’s love. He understands me very well.

There are people living inside of me and that’s why I have different emotions.

She sees three more kids in my future. I said great, I’d like three. She said you already have one, you’re going to have four. That’s a lot, that’s enough. Children are expensive, she reminded me.

The ancestors from my husbands side love me a lot. They accept me 100%.

They are with me 100%.

Never stress, never fear. Your ancestors are watching over you.


I had goosebumps the whole time. It was a beautiful experience, much nicer than I expected. I wasn’t expecting to be told of my power, because much of the time, I feel like an inexperienced child.

Her averting her eyes at my power was, well, empowering.

Because all of the group I was with said they were not surprised at all. I was the only one surprised.

Takeaway: I am stronger and more powerful than I see myself.

To sum up: I am called to heal, I am on the path of healing with music, and my ancestors are watching over me and guiding me. I get sick of my husband sometimes but it’s the ancestors living in me that are doing it (could you cut that out guys? Winking smile ) and we’ll be together a long time. And if my ancestors think I’m the chosen one, well it should be no surprise. Haven’t I gone to visit them at their gravesites in Denmark and Scotland? Haven’t I read their stories, cried at the poetry they’ve written, looked at their pictures?


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Ancestors are everything in traditional African worship. And there’s no question, I feel close to mine, and I honor them.

Although there are seven sangomas living in the US, I’m not planning on actually training to be a sangoma here. I’m interpreting my music therapy training as my sangoma-ness, learning to read the unconscious and dreams and providing healing, guidance, and growth to people through music.

Hopefully I can provide empowering experiences to others like the sangoma did for me.

Kalli Hiller

Article by Kalli Hiller

Kalli Hiller is a voluntary vagabond who, with her husband Jacob, has traveled full time for the last eight years.

Kalli has written 377 awesome articles for us.

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