Sunday World (South Africa)

A sangoma who found Jesus


THERE’S such a nostalgic aura about her that calms down everything and everyone around her, impressed by her resemblanc­e to the late Miriam Makeba who is also her iconic role model.

Lusanda Mcinga was born in Willowvale, Eastern Cape, on March 24, 1964, a third born out of six siblings. Her singing career started at home with her mom and siblings, two of her siblings are currently her back-up vocalist.

She started playing the guitar in 1974 at the tender age of 10. “I spent all my time playing with boys, in the current terms I was what people call a tomboy,” she says.

Her parents owned a shop and she would assist after school. There were boys who would assemble outside her parents’ shop, smoking and playing guitars. “We made a deal that they would teach me how to play and I had to steal tobacco from my parents shop for them to pay for the lessons. When I got saved, I asked God for forgivenes­s,” she says jokingly.

She later outgrew the tomboy side of her life and started befriendin­g girls and grew interested in the opposite sex and that’s how her son was born in 1985. She was only 21 years old and named him Bethusile as no-one expected “me the tomboy to have a child”.

Being haunted

Her father never approved of her playing the guitar; he used to say she’s possessed and in 1979, when she was only 15 years old, he sent her to thwasa (sangoma training). Her chores included cooking umvubo (coarse pap), mixing it with sour milk in a bathing tub and feeding it to the dogs. She was never fed herself and when her parents brought her food it would disappear as soon as they left.

She was starved to a point where she would eat with the dogs, as there was no other option. She ran away after six months of training and her mother, going against her husband’s wishes of sending Lusanda back to training, allowed her to stay home.

Getting saved

“I used to sing gospel songs but the words had no meaning in my life. I sang because I had a voice and could play the guitar,” Lusanda says.

Her first album was recorded in 1995 but it wasn’t until she released her fifth album in 2000 during a church crusade that she received the Word and got saved.

“I was going through a rough phase in my life. I was in the middle of a financial crisis, my possession­s were being repossesse­d. I wanted to commit suicide. That’s when I made a decision to try the route of Christ and see where it can take me.”

She has not looked back since 2000 and is now a member of the Methodist Church in Umtata. Through teachings she has learnt that challenges do not stop when one becomes a Christian and, in fact, that’s when you’ll get challenged and tested to a point where you wish to return to the old ways of living.

“As a Christian, you accept adversitie­s and reach an understand­ing that tribulatio­n must happen so that you never fail to remember to pray. That is why I always meditate on Jeremiah 1 verse 5,” she says. She knows that life has seasons whether good or bad, one must accept that it was meant to be. God always returns his blessings after a destitute season and she owes her success to God.

On music

“I’d like to leave a legacy so that when I die people will give true testimony to the life I lived ... Miriam Makeba is my role model; she spent her last days on stage doing what she was called to do.”

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