A Tribute: To True Elders


A man who lives with his soul and who lets his soul, rather than his brain, guide him, is better equipped to face the mysterious and supernatural things, because the soul understands these things while they bewilder the brain. The brain drags them into the quicksands of materialism. “ Credo Mutwa, High Sanusi


I have just returned from a journey of five days to Kuruman on the edge of the Kalahari desert. I took 18 beautiful souls to meet with my beloved elder Baba Credo Mutwa, High Sanusi, ( Sanusi means-highest ranking African Shaman) and some say he is the most powerful in Africa, now 94 years old.

The wisdom of our true elders reverberates in many years to come, no matter how we part they come as midwives, guides, teachers and mentors. Their job is  to assist us in bringing our genuis through. Even the harder teachings have stayed in my oyster shell growing into a pearl of wisdom. Use them well, cherish their time, a privilege and a gift. I know that many have walked from Credo speechless stunned, something deep has been touched, stirred woken up. and so it is, the work has begun. Three days in his presence, can be a treasure chest of mystery and magic. It is like a magic carpet ride, visiting far away places, finding the gold, the jewels. Thank you dear Baba for your generosity and for having the courage to pass the wisdom on, knowing that we too require this knowledge of Africa for the next seven generations.

SA Credo2 186


He and I first met 7 years ago when I returned to South Africa after 53 years away living in London and America. I left South Africa when I was three years old, my parents made the generational sacrifice to leave for an education and a better life during apartheid days. I vowed never to return to this estranged place.In 2005, out of the blue I made the decision, and when I did, Credo Mutwa’s name began surfacing everywhere I went, until one day in a cafe in San Francisco a stunning goddess like woman entered. She happened to know the friend I was with and joined us at our table. My friend told her I was going to South Africa. You must meet Credo Mutwa, she asked if I would like a personal introduction.  And so with a sacred stone and a bunch of sage, I made the pilgrimage not only back home but also deep into the African bush to meet with him. He was standing in his yard dressed  in a blue smock,  an apron made of one skin and black gum boots, and his forst words to me were “Why are you here Madam, you’ve come a long way ” I was taken aback by his formality.

My first visit 2006
My first visit 2006

“I’m here to look for my ancestors” I had not uttered those word, had no idea they were residing in my bones when they poured from me. I was surprised. His second sentence was 
“Your name is Mbali” My heart exploded, and in that moment I was able to see  not only the power of this man but also the burden he carried and the humbleness and humility with which he bore that burden. All I could find in my heart was deep compassion. And there it was, renamed in the country of my birth, by Credo Mutwa. I wanted to kneel before him on the deep red earth which carried the blood of my ancestors, not because he was Credo Mutwa, but because I revered his humanness in all that his calling had dished up to him.

2009 visit
2009 visit

Later I discovered the goddess was one of only two people in USA initiated by Credo! For now she shall remain nameless, but we have become firm friends and sisters. I returned every year since, vowing after my meeting with Credo that I would commit to bring people to him each year as long as he is alive and I have.


I have also been privileged to spend hours of private time with him when he is not having to dress in heavy necklaces and be “ON”. I don’t share this to boast, I share this because again I have shared sacred time with Credo the human, sharing food at his table or watching him paint. One visit he accompanied me to the bus station to see me off! He really was grandfather. Many people have stayed away or shunned him over the years because they don’t like it if he is a little out of sorts or upset or angry with people for continuing to just take without giving back, many have used and abused his generosity and still do. Many still continue to only want something from him and drain him of his wisdom only to find a new book comes out with Credo’s words and he never sees a penny of any advance or sales and many still try to buy his attention and time with expensive gifts and empty promises. Some have been extraordinary generous in many ways, as all the groups I have taken have been, thank you, and many of the monies given are in the bricks and concrete of the children’s hospice, now fully fitted out that Virginia, Credo’s wife has built. Some continue to support him where and when they can.


I found Credo, on this recent visit to be extraordinary, magical. He was full of song and joy and generous generous generous, I re committed to my vow to bring people to him until the day he passes. Why because he is a guardian of the Great Umlando ( the Knowledge) the Great Tradition of oral history that was fiercely guarded in Africa.  Because he is the only known one who has broken traditions and vows in order to bring some of that wisdom to us and reveal secrets from the oral records, for which he has been ostracized by his community, judged and lost some of his family to murder. He has made many sacrifices. When I told my friend who connected us, she said he sounds like the old Baba. I did not know the old Baba I only know that I have seen this Baba in many different states and loved him in each one. He still has much to share much to pass on. It seems then that he has come full circle as he sits in blue overalls with the great heavy necklace still weighing him down and sings his heart out to us, cracking jokes and teasing his wife.

His sculptures still in his village in Soweto
His sculptures still in his village in Soweto

So if you have heard bad stories and stayed away because of hearsay, the I offer this. Angeles Arrien, recently passed, a wonderful wise elder ( see below) who I had the honor to be taught by. She taught me the latin word recpicere….which means to look again, look back upon. Respect she said requires us to look again. I am deeply grateful for her and the full circle she has brought me to with her profound wisdom.



Today I prepare for moving into my new place on June 1st. The first physical home I have had in South Africa in 60 years, since I left as a child. It’s a major life transition and a full circle of true magic of the call back from my ancestors, that has returned their child home.


I wondered why I kept returning to this particular place, each time I came to Cape Town, only to find that the Khoi Khoi ancestors on my mothers side that Baba Credo told me about 8 years ago, roamed the coastal shores of this land hundreds of years ago. I am steeped in the divine medicine of my ancestors. I have reverted to my family name here, and I have come home, I sense my ancestors rejoicing.


Should you wish to create a group of minimum 10 people I can create a five day journey to Credo Mutwa. Please go to my website for more information and a brief outline of what days with Credo could look like.The story goes, Credo calls people to him, many have tried to go and have not made it, has he called you? Now is the time to answer.

http://www.ourdivinemedicine.com mbali@ourdivinemedicine.com Books by Credo Mutwa, Indaba My Children. 1960. Zulu Shaman: Dreams, Prophecies, and Mysteries, 2003, My People, My Africa, 1969, Let Not My Country Die, 1986.

( all photos are courtesy of Credo Mutwa his wife Virginia and the beautiful souls I have brought to meet him) Makhosi!

May all worlds bless and protect you always. Mbali in Zulu means the flower, in Xhosa, it means history, the Baal people, inscribers on the rocks, history on the rocks. !Camagu.

May 2014
May 2014


A remarkable woman passed away this month, Angeles Arrien, left us unexpectedly in the afternoon of April 24, 2014.

Angeles Arrien 1940-2014

As we move to May 1st, I cannot  move on without honoring her memory. She has asked that there is no memorial service just a candle to be lit on the anniversary of her death for the year. Re membered indeed as I  imagine the thousands of people she touched lighting a candle for her. Yes Angeles, Cross cultural anthropologist Medicine woman from the Basque Country, Tarot card reader and consultant, teacher, mentor to literally thousands of people, and organizations. Deeply respected worldwide Angeles brought  respect grace dignity and integrity surpassed by few.

She taught me with fierce compassion, a grandmother”s toughness that held me accountable at the age of fifty! She introduced me to my first vision quest which changed my life forever. Subsequent quests with her continued to transform me. There  on that land that earth of four springs, retreat center, I seeded prayers, dreams and visions, which manifested and still continue to do so. Angeles was a master with groups, encouraging and assisting us to stand in our gift. She encouraged me to be a bridge to the other worlds, cultures, traditions and ancestors. It is because of her that I moved forward with all my medicine work. It is because of her teaching that I took students on vision quests.

MAY you RIP grandmother and revered elder.


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