In conversation with Joy Mogami: On inner healing and ancestry

Doing the work on self through healing and nurturing a sense of alignment contributes to forging a better understanding of our purpose. It is a process that can feel awkward, confusing and frustrating at times, drawing attention to the obstacles that can emerge as we evolve. When you create the space to know yourself, this allows you to understand who you are and invest your energy in discovering and utilising your talents to make a positive impact to your surroundings. Knowing your roots is key in this process. Joy Mogami is life coach based in Gaborone Botswana, in addition to founding Africa in Dialogue, her work focuses on inner-healing and transformation. Key themes in our discussion included spirituality, inner healing and alignment.

Does your spiritual journey feature an engagement with ancestry? If so, in what ways did you carry out this process?

I would say that I have always had a mystical experience in my upbringing. I originate from a village called Lerala, which is a renowned for its spirituality and being the seat of the ancestors. It is known for its abundance of activities that are related to ancestry. Growing up, I found it very fascinating. I have always known that the work of spirituality and shamanism, or what we call medicine women, is part of my ancestry. Many of my family members, from my paternal and maternal side, were either traditional healers or spiritual healers. When I was 17 years old, I started having black outs and I was told that my mum used to have them too. I found out that she received a calling to be a spiritual healer, but she did not answer that call. It is a common African belief that when a mother does not answer a call, it will pass down to her children until somebody in the family answers it. In recent years, I have learned that because my mother did not answer her call to be a spiritual healer, the call was passed on to me.

Around 18 and 19, I began reading as much as I could on spirituality and learning about psychology – trying to understand more about human nature. I would say that even before the knowledge came, my engagement with ancestry and spirituality was something that I was born into. I went through a period of exploring what ancestral beliefs are in my own family and culture. In southern Africa we believe in the notion of the continuation of ancestral spirits. This has been true for me. I strongly sense the spirit and guidance of my grandfather, from my mother’s side, as well as the spirit of cousins that have passed. I know this sounds strange, but for me this is a very normal thing. The work that I do in the modern way, goes all the way back to what my ancestors were born to do.

It seems as if this connection has helped to create a sense of alignment for you in your pursuits.  On your website, you mention the difficulties that you felt despite the achievements you gained in your previous professions – what does alignment feel like for you?

The issue of alignment is one of my favourite topics. I often talk about its importance. For me, alignment means being true to myself and my ideologies concerning what I believe my purpose is. What has been true for me is that from the moment that I turned 18, I knew I was supposed to be a healer. Now when I trace back, I realise that even before then I knew. When I was younger, I was always the girl that listened, that was curious and always asking questions about ancestors and spirituality. My purpose has always been around spiritual healing, but for the longest time I tried to run away from it or go around it. Even when I was studying psychology, it felt like there was still something missing. I wanted to focus more on holding space and connecting to the soul in a more active and radical way. I wanted to talk about what that looks like and feels like for the human experience, using this knowledge to enrich ourselves.

If we were having this conversation 2 or 3 years ago, I would not have answered your question in this manner. I would have given you an answer which I perceived would be more acceptable. But now, I am fine with saying that I am a shaman and I am fine with saying that I can feel and see people’s emotions, and I am aware of things beyond the physical realm. I know that I am a transmitter and I am a conduit for ancestors to speak to me. I am not afraid of saying that, but before I would have never said that, and that is what alignment has been like for me. When I was misaligned, I showed up in that way. When I look at the work that I have done, I see that I only did 60 or 70% of what I was capable of because I held myself back. I was so afraid of claiming the entirety of who I am. Today I feel more in alignment speaking in this way to you, because it is my truth and I am claiming it. I have had so much clarity from this and I create from intention, which is such a beautiful space to create from.

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What regular steps do you take to maintain your sense of alignment?

I am a person that can easily get in alignment from the words that I read. On a daily, I read a lot of spiritual works. Just today I was reading about how to create your own reality from an emotional point of view. Engaging with this kind of information pushes me further. I also engage in a lot of self-care practices such as meditation and yoga. I love moving my body and yoga has offered the chance to connect with my body and breathwork. On meditation, I have previously heard the phrase that ‘praying is talking to God, meditating is listening to God’. I have gotten so much clarity from meditation and I see it as one of the most important practices for me. Introspection is also so important. I write a lot, not only in a creative way but also to just express my soul. I love being in connection – with God, other people, ancestry as well as myself. This has influenced my work, which I see as being about making connections. Even this conversation, I see it as part of me being in alignment. Everything that I make is a reflection of what I believe and my strong sense of alignment.

With regards to issues concerning spirituality and inner healing – do you think that these kinds of topics are perceived as taboo in African spaces?

Even now, I am so aware of how I am showing up with this work in public spaces. For example, yesterday I was filming a live show on the topic of healing the mother wound and I was not happy with my transmission because I felt that I was searching for the right words that would be understood by the masses. I was thinking about how it would be received by people who believe in Christianity and whether they would think that what I am talking about is demonic. I feel that a lot of people recognise our ancesteral beliefs and spirituality, but it is not an outspoken thing. When you start talking about these kinds of things, sometimes people will look at you in a strange way. I am very aware of this. Even saying that I am a Shaman has brought up some issues for me and some of my friends. I think that the perception of what that looks like is what is terrifying to people, especially when they do not know how to engage with that.

I have to say that I have had anxieties, even in literary spaces, about saying that I am a Shaman. I feel like in these spaces, emphasis is placed on the visible i.e. political activism or literary activism. But, to talk about spiritual activism is not really regarded. I feel that if we fused spirituality in a lot of our spaces, this could provide a chance for so much healing and for us to do much more. I am a strong believer of the dialogue, which is why I created Africa in Dialogue. I believe that through conversation we can de-mystify what we have mystified and unfold what we perceive and find new ways of interacting with it.

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What are some of the three lessons that you have taken from your process of inner healing?

  1. I create my reality – This is where all of our power lies when we recognise this. Life is all about idea construction, and we are constantly creating. If we create our reality it means that we are safe, we are ok whether we perceive things as good or bad/right or wrong.
  2. We are the authority of our lives – Meaning that you are the one creating. It means that when we talk about change in Africa and understanding our ancestry, we recognise that we can proactively engage with these things on a daily basis. We are creating a world that people are going to inhabit, a world of ideas that are going to be truth for people 100 years from now. That gives me so much power, knowing that I am creating not only for myself but for others.
  3. Everything is a belief system – Meaning that every belief can be changed. If I say to myself “I cannot do this”, I always remind myself that the doubt in it self is a belief which I can change. That is the foundation of my work as an inner healer.

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All images published with permission.

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