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An Interview with Mbali Creazzo

Mbali Creazzo is a medicine woman, teacher, healer, creative artist and cowrie shell diviner. She gave Cami Walker, author of 29 Gifts, the challenge that the book is based on.

EB: I understand you were born in South Africa, where were you born?

Yes, South Africa is my homeland, I was born in Port Elizabeth

EB: When did you leave and why?

We left in 1954 when I was three and went to London. We left because of apartheid

EB: Do you visit South Africa often?

Yes, since I first started coming back, four years ago, I have been back almost every year.

EB: What did you do while in London with regards to your studies?

I was a massage therapist, I have been a body worker for the past 25 years and that led me to exploring integrative medicine, the power of healing and introducing traditional methods. But massage has been around for hundreds of years so to me it is traditional method.

EB: Can you tell us a bit about your background and your family?

We came to London, both my parents were teachers and we arrived there with the whole family – everybody came with us. So we had a bit of a challenging beginning, having gone from a family of 6 to a family of 20. So, now I am a bit of a loner. Most of my working life has been either in the healing profession or in education. I carried on in education but not in the conventional way like my parents would have liked me to. I am an educator in many ways but not in the academic way.

EB: How do your parents feel about this?

Both my parents have passed but they were very progressive, very radical so they were amazing in that way. They allowed us to follow our dream, follow what we wanted to do, follow our heart.

EB: And the rest of your family – do they still live in London?

The live in England and I live in America now.

EB: In the book you changed your name from Toni to Mbali – can you tell us a bit about the change?

I was given that name here in South Africa by one of the greatest healers on the planet, a man called Credo Mutwa and he gave me that name on my first return home 4 years ago. I went to see him and the first thing he said to me was ‘Your name is Mbali’. That name stuck and resonated and have used it ever since. That is how it happened, it is a Zulu name and it means ‘the flower’.

EB: You suggested the 29 Gifts in 29 Days challenge to Cami Walker, did you do the challenge yourself?

Yes I have done it, but when I was originally given the challenge it was to give away 27 gifts in 9 days. Though, I don’t call it a challenge, it’s a prescription and when I was speaking to Cami, it came through me as 29 gifts in 29 days. And I believe that was very much a gift from the ancestors because they knew Cami would know what to do with what I gave her. And she did, she created an amazing website and she wrote the book.


EB: What was your favourite gift to give?

One of my favourite gifts to give is presence. We are living in a world of such high technology where people are distracted all the time and so what I learnt when I was teaching massage therapists to work in hospitals was to say to them, ‘The biggest gift you can give is presence and witnessing’. So when people are talking to me, for me it is really letting everything else go that is going on with me at that moment and just doing what we are doing right now. Which is making eye contact, which is really listening, people don’t tend to really listen – we hear but we are not really listening. So I think healing and presence is one of the greatest gift anyone of us can give.

EB: How did you find challenge helped/ changed you?

It really opened up for me and showed me the flow through giving and receiving and especially when we give from a place of scarcity which is what happened with Cami. She was feeling completely depleted, she felt she had nothing to give anybody because she was so ill and to then find ‘what can I give’ it opens up something. There is an alchemy that happens, I call it alchemy or a magic that is happening that really allows flow, it takes us out of our scarcity and takes us to abundance. One of the gifts I gave was to a homeless person and I had just finished work and I was working with homeless people so the last thing I wanted to do that night was to give to somebody else cause I felt completely depleted. I went and I had to find this person, I gave her some food, it was about midnight – I went to find a restaurant. And something happened in that moment that I gave to this person. Everything that I had been worried about, because I was going through a hard time myself, everything just fell away and I realised how much I actually had. When we give to another, we realised how much we have. When I saw the homeless person when I gave her the food I realised wow, I have somewhere to live and I have so much. So it completely took me out of any self pity that I was going through.

I think the biggest gift is to part with something that you don’t think you can live without. That is the gift you have to give.
EB: I understand you were recently in South Africa on a humanitarian singing tour – can you tell us about that?
We toured all over South Africa. We have various projects that we fund so all the money that we earn as a singing group goes to these projects. We all do it voluntarily and raise money so we gave a lot of money to our projects as we went around. The highlight, of course, was when we sang for Nelson Mandela. It was him, his wife and the group which is 21 people. And the other highlight of the tour was when my grandmother came to see us. She is 91 and an adopted grandmother who lives in Kwa Zulu Natal.


EB: If you could have dinner with three people, dead or alive, who would they be and why?

Nelson Mandela, Tina Turner and my mother and father.

EB: I read that you are a Cowrie Shell Diviner, could you explain what that is?

I am trained in the West African tradition of the Dagra people and so I am a diviner. I do readings, the Dagra people work with the foundation that our lives are interconnected to nature and with the natural world. The Cowrie Shell divination is a reading that helps people to understand where they are at this moment in time. It also helps people to understand what it is they are carrying, their ancestral legacies, that are impacting their lives and have impacted their life for years. And so once we do the reading, the person asks the question, and I will read. People come with a variety of issues, such as fertility problems, anger from past events and I read very much in the present moment, it is not about fortune telling its about reading where you are at this moment in time and what you need at this moment in time that will help to move you to the next place. It also reads around what is your purpose, your work in the world, what needs to happen in the next 3 months, as the readings happen every 3 months, to move you to the next stage of your life.

EB: What is your greatest achievement in life so far and what more do you wish to achieve?

My greatest achievement in life is coming through what I call a modern day initiation, coming through a period of alcoholism, coming through a period of all the losses in my life and turning my life around. To be able to do the work I am doing now, my work is to work with others to guide people to find their divine medicine. To take all that has been presented, turn it all around so that I can help others. Its really not about me, it’s about the gift that I have been given to give out to others

I wish to have an orphanage here in South Africa, to open a space of healing here in my homeland and live here. I would like to start the process this year. This is an earth year in the Dagra tradition and which is about coming home and putting roots down.

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