Phemo Linzy Motshegwe (18) from Mochudi had no choice but to quit school and pursue her call to become a traditional healer and sangoma. She is now proud of the decision she made.

The teenager decided to abruptly quit senior school at Form 4 at Seepapitso Senior Secondary School in Kanye, as she fell extremely sick and bedridden. Her family tried different medical doctors and her situation kept getting worse with her health deteriorating daily. Phemo says she could not talk or act normally around people, she was diagnosed with bipolar and referred to a mental hospital. By then, she had weird and strange visions, hearing

voices to an extent that she saw herself appearing in her dreams adorned in traditional healers regalia.

Phemo, told The Midweek Sun that she now realises that the horrific nightmares were all part of her calling to become a sangoma. She says the main ancestor that appeared in her weird visions was her paternal grandfather who died many years ago. She believes that becoming a sangoma cured her from the strange illness and she prides herself with the supernatural gift. "It is beautiful to foresee things that ordinary people had no idea of, I grew up a different kid," she says.

The teen said through the help of family, she was later told that she had a calling which when ignored she could either die or lose her mother. Phemo says due to her worsening health condition, the family sent her to South Africa to train as a sangoma.

"Fortunately the trainers were supportive and they even attended my graduation ceremony in Botswana. I got better and recovered before completing the training," she said.

Phemo recalls that she grew up different. She could detect bad intensions from people. "I helped my mother select friends well as a child, I could see someone's bad intentions long before knowing who they were," she said.

According to Phemo, some Batswana despise and mistrust sangomas, often labelling them witches. She explains that being a traditional healer should not be associated with witchcraft, further adding that she got healed after undergoing the training and is now ready to return to school. "It took blood, sweat and dedication to be where I am, ancestors are there and real," she said.

The teenager claims to cure different diseases, conducts cleansing and does prophecy. She reveals that her journey into becoming a fully fledged sangoma almost got complicated as her father has never been part of her life and he was needed at some point during her training.

"The family had to locate him. I wish absent fathers could be there for their children as sometimes children go through the unknown," said Phemo.

She also revealed that she sometimes slaughters animals using her teeth and that not all sangomas do that, as it depends on the ancestor that possessed the individual. "If the trainer, who we normally address as Gobela, drinks blood and the leading ancestor that appears in the visions was drinking blood, a sangoma will also have to follow suite," she noted, further adding that she drinks goats and chicken blood.

She grieved that sangomas lack suitable space to practice their calling as most of them work in sacred healing huts, which they believe ancestors reside. She begs people to accept sangomas and never fear sharing public spaces with them. "The colourful beads are worn for different purposes and we believe the bead necklaces protect us from the evil spirits," she said.