Mandaza Augustine Kandemwa is widely recognized in Southern Africa as a traditional healer (nganga). Roughly 55 years old (he doesn't know the year of his birth), Mandaza's father was poisoned by witches when he was a boy. Very much a child of poverty, he spent his early years living with various relatives, working the fields and, by his own volition, struggling to get whatever education he could in various missionary-run schools. Mandaza came of age during the resistance to apartheid in his country and as a teenager was involved in clandestine activity. He was trained as a teacher and was recognized as having exceptional skill at organizing schools. In the late sixties, he was recruited against his will into the British South African Police as a consultant and ultimately a school administrator.
During his tenure in the police force, Mandaza was afflicted with severe water spirit disease, understood to be the call of the ancestors to practice as a traditional healer. He was then a staunchly religious Christian and did not heed the call and so suffered years of disorientation even as he rose in the ranks of the police. Eventually he dreamed he was to be initiated by an Ndebele nganga—the Ndebele being the historical enemies of the Shona (Mandaza's tribe). A few days later, his job transferred him to an Ndebele-speaking part of the country where he was approached by a stranger, a nganga, who ultimately took him through the rites of initiation.
In 1988 Mandaza married the Ndebele trance medium Simakuhle Dube and now has four children. On the eve of his promotion to the highest rank in police school administration in Zimbabwe, he left his job to be a full-time nganga and peacemaker, accepting no fee in working with the poor and working class people of Bulawayo, the country's second largest city.
In 1996 Mandaza was approached by the author Michael Ortiz Hill to be initiated into the water spirit tradition, and since then they have collaborated in the work of healing, initiation and understanding the deep African patterning in the dream life and spirit world of African-American people.
In addition to their collaboration on Twin from Another Tribe, Michael and Mandaza co-founded the Nganga Project, a nonprofit that sustains African healing and makes alliances between healers of different traditions (African, Native American, Western biomedicine) and between traditional African and African-American community leaders. The Nganga Project is currently involved in purchasing land in Zimbabwe—a "peace farm" to collectively grow food for the hungry and draw together people from the various races and ethnicities in a country that has been ravaged by interracial violence.