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Is Izangoma Zodumo about witchcraft?

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Izangoma Zodumo is a reality show on Mzansi Magic which follows two young women, who are determined to prove that it is possible to be a traditional healer leading a modern lifestyle.

Izangoma Zodumo is one of the new reality shows on Mzansi Magic, with its debut episode airing on Wednesday, 7 October 2020. The series stars Makgotso “Gogo Maweni” Makopo and Prudence “Ngwe” Magagula, who have both been deemed gifted within the Zulu culture as traditional healers, also known as sangomas.

A sangoma, or traditional healer, is known to practice by communicating with ancestors and using herbal medicine to help people achieve a better life or progress to the place they want to be. The association with ‘spells’ and ‘black magic’ have stigmatized traditional healing, as it supposedly contradicts the teachings of Christianity.

In the preview of the season, Gogo Maweni was heard blatantly stating that she knows how to cast spells on people, in the form of witchcraft. Her statement immediately prompted backlash, as the public claimed that she was speaking in a threatening and negative way. In an interview with JustNje on Tuesday, 6 October 2020, she clarified what she meant by the statement, explaining that although they have the ability to practice witchcraft, they don’t.

Based on the public’s reaction, a significant number of viewers have questioned the premise of the show, as they believe it inaccurately portrays spiritual and traditional healing in an obscene and offensive way. The negative reaction led to a group of Mzansi Magic viewers starting a petition, with the intention of having the show removed from the channel.

In a statement to JustNje on Friday, 9 October 2020, Nomsa Philiso, Director of Local Entertainment Channels at M-Net, commented on the backlash. She stated, “Izangoma Zodumo is a show that portrays the lives of two spiritual healers, Gogo Maweni and Baba Ngwemabala – who juggle both their traditional and personal lives. These characters were cast according to their true stories. The show does not intend to mock and disrespect anyone’s religion, spiritual practices or anyone practising ubungoma. The show intends to share stories that will be told with a refreshing and unapologetic style, to allow the truth to be judged by the viewers.”

Sayushka Naidoo
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