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‘You come to realise that our egos are meaningless’ – Mamodise Mailula

Making a difference through education and healing is what drives Henley Marketing Lead and traditional healer Mamodise Mailula. Living a spiritual life, at one with nature, and adding value to the lives she touches are her stock in trade.


I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I feel like I will never know what I want to be. I treat life as an open canvas, take on the opportunities that I’m given, and align them with what I feel I am called to do at that point in time. I feel like ‘being something’ is confining. I don’t want to position myself within a system, and my thinking has always been to ask, ‘Who am I outside of the parameters of the system?’

I don’t allow myself to be defined by my job because everything could change tomorrow. But in the privileged space that I’m in right now, I try to focus on how I am bettering my communities of practice. If I’m engaging with alumni, am I being helpful to them and adding value to their lives and their Henley experience?

I am grateful to have found myself in spaces where I can contribute, be it talent, energy, or just making a difference. Right now, it’s about making a difference through education. And through healing.

I come from a Catholic background; it was a big part of our lives. The church was where we went to worship and grow spiritually. I went to a Catholic school and ended up in an Anglican boarding school, so a lot of things in my early life were spiritually directed.

I grew up in a close-knit, nuclear family with my mom, dad and sister in Soweto. My grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins were always close by. It was my grandfather who impressed upon us the importance of spending time with loved ones and caring for one another. As a family, our lives revolve around music, food and spending time together.

For me, making sense of the world has a lot to do with my narrative. I come from a family of perfectionists, and we have always been very good at expressing ourselves in words and art. But in the world of social media, with its endless scrolling and skimming, I began feeling that my vocabulary and my ability to write were suffering. I decided that l needed to relearn how to read and write and find my voice again by doing a research master’s. I’m not the first one in my family to graduate. That’s something that I’m proud of, a legacy my grandparents crafted for us, because usually, my peers are the first graduates in their families. Once I’m done, I may consider taking on an MBA!

You don’t need money to live a good life. My grandfather taught us that. He understood the importance of exposure and took us to places like the zoo and Zoo Lake. As a child I had never been on a plane, but my grandfather would take us to the airport where we would go to the viewing deck and watch the planes take off and land.

I am a traditional healer today, but I’ll always be grateful for the spiritual lessons I learned growing up in a Catholic environment. As an adult, I’ve explored different facets of spirituality. I’ve visited Buddhist temples, I’ve participated in ecumenical meditation retreats, and for a period, I embraced the Rasta way of living.

My African spirituality journey has taught me so much about who I am and my place in the world. It has taught me to get over my ego; it has put me in touch with my lineage, my bloodline, and my ancestors. It’s taught me that we are simply an extension of nature and that it’s only our cognitive ability that sets us apart.

Becoming a spiritual healer and now a spiritual trainer (gobela) has also taught me lessons in leadership. When an initiate comes to me for counsel, my role is to hold space for that person and in order to do that, you need to know how to be a source of refuge for someone who needs help. Just as the initiate is depending on me, I am depending on them to learn and to grow, to see myself through their and other lenses. There are lessons in leadership and the power of collaboration in that experience. You come to realise that our egos are meaningless. They don’t contribute to our growth or wellness.

I’ve always believed that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Magic happens when a team comes together, and much of my current role revolves around making that happen.

I live alone on a farm with my dogs and geese. Maybe that’s a protest (as my close friend and mentor puts it) to having been raised in the concrete jungle of Soweto, where there isn’t privacy, let alone greenery. I need the trees and the sounds of birdsong in the mornings. But also, much of my spiritual work is aligned with nature and guided by it, and I need to immerse myself in that fully.

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