Mmatshilo Motsei 2021


Mmatshilo Motsei is an author, speaker, and integrative healer with a keen interest in integrating indigenous wisdom with modern innovations.

She holds an Integrated Diploma in General Nursing and Midwifery from Mapulaneng Hospital in Mpumalanga, a BCur (Limpopo University), BA Honours in Psychology (UNISA) and an MA in Creative Writing (Rhodes University). She is currently enrolled for her PhD in Sociology at the University of Pretoria.  

She started her career as a nurse, midwife, social science researcher, rural development facilitator, and gender transformation consultant.  

Her advocacy for social policy, however, is rooted in community engagement, where she pioneers break-through projects. In 1992, she founded ADAPT (Agisanang Domestic Abuse Prevention and Training), an organisation based in Alexandra Township in Johannesburg using holistic methods in addressing domestic and sexual violence in urban and rural communities. During her 8-year tenure at ADAPT, she developed a community empowerment model for addressing domestic violence which views the woman as a nexus around which family and community life revolves. In 1997, she organised the first men’s march against rape in Alexandra Township.

In 2001 and 2002, she was a consultant to RADAR, a rural women and HIV project of the School of Public Health at WITS University. She did ground-breaking work in designing a model that integrates gender, gender violence and HIV in microcredit finance programmes for rural women in Burgersfort district, Limpopo Province.  In 2014, she was contracted by HIVOS to replicate the model with rural women in Zimbabwe.

In 2003, she led research with the Freedom Park Trust on the spiritual significance of rocks and water in African healing. The methodology excavated and recorded the wisdom of indigenous elders and healers residing in villages across South Africa. The findings of her work were used by landscape architects to design a garden of remembrance.

In 2013, she undertook a seven day climb of Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds for Tsogang Basadi Orphans Project in Maviljan village in Bushbuckridge, Limpopo.

She has worked with women across the continent, including women who were raped during the war in Mogadishu, Somalia. Beyond Africa, she has worked with various institutions in USA, Australia, Canada, Europe, and Nepal.

Her scholarly work includes teaching and facilitating seminars at UNISA, WITS, Stellenbosch, Mpumalanga, and Rhodes Universities. She has written and published several books including “The Kanga and the Kangaroo Court: Reflections on the Rape Trial of Jacob Zuma” (Jacana, 2007) and “Reweaving the Soul of the Nation: Essays in African spirituality, politics and feminism” (Afrika Ikalafe, 2020).

She is the Founding Director of the Afrika Ikalafe Spiritual Health Institute. Aptly called Afrika Ikalafe, which means Afrika Heal Thyself, the aim of the Institute is to indigenise health and development and by so doing, build an African consciousness that will provide fertile ground for healing of wounded individuals, families, and communities.  One of the key projects of Afrika Ikalafe is Marumo Fatshe whose focus is to use technology in a search for an indigenous African healing justice framework in responding to sexual violence in South Africa.   

She has received numerous national and international awards, including the United Nations Scroll of Honour Award for her work in involving men as part of the solution to violence against women.

For her union of intuition, logic, spirit, science, and community-based leadership that encourages a compassionate engagement with people and the environment, it is an honour for Nelson Mandela University to confer the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (honoris causa) on Mmatshilo Motsei.