Ex-Mdantsane doctor uses music to heal
Clinical psychologist ‘iNdlobongela’ proud of work done in BCM
Mdantsane-born, but Johannesburg-based clinical psychologist Dr Mthetho Tshemese, has swapped his white coat for a microphone to take on a new journey as a musician.
As a psychologist, Tshemese worked with well-known artists, athletes and ordinary South African citizens to identify and deal with mental health issues.
Tshemese, who resigned from his formal clinical psychology practice last year, says it is time to go beyond the regular call of duty.
“I consider my music to be an extension of my work as a psychologist. My music is what I call healing activism. Meaning I am trying to inspire people and bring hope to the hopeless. Particularly in young people who face challenges like unemployment, inequality and high volumes of violence,” he said.
With many musical influences, Tshemese says his musical genre is layered.
“I am inspired by hip-hop, poetry, jazz, and reggae artists.
“So you find a lot of these influences in my sound. In the same breath, I come from a musical family. I used to sing choral music as a first tenor in church. So I would describe my music as umnculo buciko (commentary music).
“I am deliberate in being the voice of and for the people,” said Tshemese who goes by the stage name iNdlobongela, (the lyrical bully).
Growing up in Mdantsane’s NU7, iNdlobongela says his personal trauma of growing up in a violent community was a catalyst to pursue his psychology career, which eventually led to his musical career.
“It has taken me 27 years to come back to music. My own trauma of growing up in a violent community made me realise that there is a lot of psychological healing that needs to be done.
“The apartheid government for instance, was a psycho-political project that broke the psyche of the black mind, resulting in discord within our families and a lack of unity,” says Tshemese.
Tshemese has had a broad range of experience.
He has worked as a lecturer at Wits University, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and for Soul City’s Institute of Justice which assisted in the development of a television series called the Village Shrink.
Village Shrink, created by Tshemese, focused on mental health issues such as depression, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and autism.
“I have had the pleasure of working with the East London-based feminist organisation, Masimanyane Woman’s Support Centre which was one of the best jobs I have ever done.
“It taught me so much. The one thing I am most proud of in my career is the community psychology clinic I started in Empilweni Clinic, in Gompo in 2004. If you go to Empilweni today and want to see a psychologist at a primary health care level, you will get a psychologist to assist you,” said a proud Tshemese.
Tshemese says he hopes to inspire as many people as he can through his music.
“As a psychologist, one thing that I have realised is that our services are needed more in poor communities, but people cannot afford it.
“So instead of hosting a 30-minute lecture on a particular issue, I am able to write a five minute song that will have a far wider reach for the people that need to hear it. I am using music as a vehicle to engage and to entertain,” he said.
iNdlobongela will release his debut album Izityhilelo, Revelations, next month.