I stopped in South Africa on my way to Madagascar to meet my daughter who was working as a diplomat in training. I told a few friends about the trip and one in particular suggested that I see Zulu Songoma Credo Mutwa. I had no idea who he was or where he was or where I could find him. All I was told by my trusted friend was that it would be good for me to sit with him.. South Africa is pretty big. I wanted to find him not simply to sit at his feet but also because the possibility of sitting at his feet was near impossible. These are the type of challenges that I live for.
The more I researched him the more it became evident that I should do everything to be in his company. Here is what one prominent South African leader had to say about him:
His name is Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa, loosely translated meaning, “Awaken you, Truth of the Little Bushman”.
Baba Credo is a traditional healer. No! He was the highest level of traditional healer. He is a Sanusi. Recognised by his peers across Africa as a Prophet. He is a Doctor. Medicine man. Diviner. Scientist. Storyteller. Psychologist. Clairvoyant. Artist. Sculptor. He is a Baobab.
Credo Mutwa is a national treasure. He should be celebrated. He is Shakespearean in his command of the language and African mythology. He is a philosopher and a prophesier. He carries the secret knowledge of our continent. His cosmology is a lodestar to us regaining our balance and harmony in Africa and as the human race. Would his knowledge and wisdom be studied in schools and universities, we would have doctors of Life. People who know what it means to be human. And be kind. Humankind needs to study “baobabism”. It’s a way of life, not a religion.
The first few lines of Wikipedia describe him in this way:
“Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa /ˈkreɪdoʊ ˈmʊtwə/ (born 21 July 1921) is a Zulu sangoma (traditional healer) from South Africa. He is known as an author of books on stories mixing traditional Zulu folklore, extraterrestrial encounters and his own personal encounters. His most recent work is a graphic novel called the Tree of Life Trilogy based on his writings of his most famous book, Indaba my Children[
Credo calls himself a sanusi (common spelling isanuse) which is a type of Zulu diviner or sangoma. The term stems from a more historic time and is not widely used today, even in a traditional setting.
I felt like I was in one of those movies where the hero is given an impossible task and sent on their way. So I got to South Africa. Johannesburg specifically. Phase 1 accomplished. I was a little disoriented because it was winter and I wasn’t ready. For winter in Africa that is. There was also a bitterness in the air not necessarily related to the weather.
I began asking a few key folks in America (via text) and in Johannesburg about where I might be able to find this mystery man. Dr. Charles Finch (was on my call list) former head of Morehouse School of Medicine who confirmed that Credo would be a good person for me to sit with in order to get my mind right had lost track of Credo over the years but offered information that made my future meeting with Credo an absolute necessity on my journey. I was determined.
Locally I was greeted with an array of emotions when I mentioned Credo’s name. First there was astonishment. How did I know his name people wanted to know. I got the impression he was a folk hero that South Africans would rather keep to themselves. Folks immediately wanted to know who I was to be asking about HIM. Others had only read or heard about him on the news. Most said that he had been out of the public eye for years and they weren’t sure if he was even alive. If he was it was probably near impossible that I would be in his company.
I did more research online and found tons of videos but nothing recent. It seemed as if the man had fallen off the face of the earth. Some said he was very sick. Others believed he had died a few years ago. But (for real) nobody really new where he was.
Again my determination increased. One call led to another which led to another and before I knew it I was on the phone speaking to his wife Virginia. I checked flights first because I had no means of ground transportation. Credo lived over 7 hours outside of Johannesburg. There was nothing available. So the only other option would be to hire a driver. One was recommended by a friend. I also asked a friend of a friend to accompany me on the trod and there I was with two perfect strangers on a 7 hour trek of the country side to sit at the feet of Credo Muthwa.
The drive was both beautiful and disturbing. I am loving the scenery but I’m feeling away about the fact that Germany though not there is there. Every town, street sign, and even most business names were in German. It felt like such an offense. Where is black Africa and why wasn’t this negotiated in the post apartheid arrangements? The great historian Dr. John Henrik Clarke would always say that the beginning of freedom is calling things by their proper names and here we were driving through towns whose name that nobody I knew could even pronounce.
We think that we are lost many times over as the drive was long and often barren and night had fallen so we stop and ask along the way and the people are only too gracious to offer advice which is usually something like “you are going the right way,” with a finger point. That’s it. I’m feeling the weight of this drive and the experience in general because this man holds so much history and mystery. My legs are also cramped and my body is also feeling it. As I feel us getting closer I could feel a certain peace and quiet come over me. We are sure and yet not so sure where we are going but it feels right so we keep trodding. I could feel a certain patience and quietness come over me.
I begin to rehearse in my mind what I will say to him. As a Sangoma I will want him to reach into his crystal ball and help make me right. My driver and friend that accompanied me understood what this journey meant to me however they could not contain their excitement as we approached the town where Credo calls home. I decide that I will ask them to come in with me to meet him and then ask them to give me some time alone with him. Well that didn’t go as planned.
So I’m thinking that I’ll have some quiet time with Credo but that’s not how it’s goes down. As soon as we park everyone gets out the car I knew at that point that private time was l looking distant and scarcer. This was a historic moment and a nobody had time to be sitting in the car so we all get out and were greeted by his wife who sits and talks to us for a while. A long while. Meanwhile I’m hearing movement in the back of the house. I’m hearing what sounds like chains clanging. I’m feeling a little bit of a way about not being able to speak with him directly about my health challenges present company but I’m so grateful to have arrived at this very moment and I don’t want to miss it with my ignorance and ego.
I had no idea what to expect but here comes this man in traditional Zulu attire with big ceremonial chains that look like they weigh way more than he can carry. He walks in and sits with us for hours.
I’m never quite sure where he’s looking because his eyes are a little crossed so I try to move periodically to make sure I’m in his eye view. I mean I need some healing. That’s why I am here. And I don’t want to miss my healing because he can’t see me. We talk for hours about the world we talk about politics we talk about life. We never talk about cancer. We talk about the collective and I’m feeling real real good for our journey back home. Healing comes in many forms.
I was still (low key) looking for the magic touch and words like” you are healed”. I eventually realized that this was not that kind of journey. This was the beginning of a journey to self healing. It was the beginning of a journey to self realization. It was in the beginning of a journey to find and locate my higher self.
My next stop was Madagascar