This blog(post) is part of the documentary film project Back to Paradise in which my beloved, director/cameraman Thomas Ceulemans, and I follow a special little girl. Her name is Amy.

Kristien already mentioned the story telling skills of her husband, but when I meet him for the first time in real life, sometime at the end of August 2020, I am not only surprised by that. James appears to have a very open, loving face that shows a range of expressions with every emotion. Add to that his lively body movements and before you know it, you find yourself immersed in Africa…

By the way: not far from where we meet, lies the Lommel Sahara: a stunningly beautiful nature reserve with, yes, a certain African radiance. ‘When I say I live near the Sahara, that sometimes causes misunderstandings.’ James laughs out loud.

James Kgwedi was born on October 22th 1979 in Acornhoek village, Mpumalanga Province in South Africa. He grew up as an only child in his grandmothers house (the mother of his mam). When he was fifteen years old, he moved to stay with his mam and stepfather. James: At the age of thirteen they had changed my surname from my mam (James Bango) to my stepfather (James Kgwedi). My grandmother called me Neo, which means ‘gift’, so everybody in the village called me Neo until I had to go to Primary School. There they wanted me to use a Christian name so I became James.

When I grew up on my grandmother’s side, everything was normal. There was no confusion at all. We lived together with aunties, uncles, cousins and nephews, nieces and cousins. But then I moved to stay with my mam when I was a teenager. With my mom, I could never ask life-questions in general as it was all a taboe. She didn’t like to talk. She is more a reserved person. Most of my enlightenment I received from my grandparents: they were my pillars of strength. My ‘home’ felt with them and because I was a cattle herder, I was able to visit them on a daily basis.

James’ grandmother was his ‘living radio’: ‘always full of stories’. Each afternoon, in primary school, we had folk tale stories where we learned from our grannies. And each evening – I was so looking forward to that! – we were all sitting outside around the fire listening to her ‘growing up’ stories – special stories that are passed on from generation to generation.

Sometimes, when James was playing soccer in the village, the other boys told him he had the same moves as Sam, an older man who also lived in the village. ‘You even look like him!’ they said.

When I was seventeen years old, this man called Sam came to me in a strange way. He wanted contact with me but I didn’t understand why. He gave me sometimes money – I didn’t know why – but it made us both happy. James then asked his mam who this man was. The way his mother reacted made him feel that something was wrong. She told me the truth but she wanted me to keep quiet and not to react hard. She said that I had to forget about him, as my stepfather raised me. And she told me to look up at him as if he was my biological father: ‘He has paid for everything and has always treated you as his own son.’

James obeyed. He looked up at his hero stepfather and didn’t want to follow up further on his biological father, like he was told by his mother. Years later I asked my grannie to clear this situation as I was feeling completely lost. My concentration at school was not going well. I asked myself ‘Who am I?’, so they sat down with me and told me how it happened. My biological parents were teenagers and both were still schooling. On my biological fathers side they didn’t want a child and they were afraid there would be a marriage coming up as their standing was much higher (with lots of cattle). So my mam stopped schooling, started working and helped to raise me at my grannie.

As a youngster, the story did not leave me untouched and stuck to me, but I didn’t know how to face it, how to deal with it. I told myself I just had to carry on with my life and not to think too much… but still….it was all hunting me.

I grew up in a Christian devoted family with traditional, cultural values. When in 2017 I went to South Africa for the burrial of my stepfather, I had such tummy pain that my mam had to bring me to a hospital where they couldn’t find anything. I then went to the Sangoma, a traditional healer. He needed to examine me and after he had done so, he said: ‘There is a very strong energy around you from the family line that wants to have urgent contact with you. He complains about the connection. He always comes to you, but you refuse to see it. It’s in your blood, seek for it’.

My grandmother knew immediately what the Sangoma was talking about. She said: ‘It is your grandfather from your biological father who wants to get connected with you. The only way to solve it is to go to your father.’ So when I went to my (biological) father and told him about my Sangoma visit, my father said he was having the same problem. He was very thankful I had come so we decided to do the designated rituals together; asking for enlightenment and protection by invoking the grandfather and his companions/ancestors. Afterward, I really felt relieved and re-connected.

If I think back now, it might also be the start of the healing of my daughter Amy… You see, she was five years old back then, and that’s when she started talking about these beautiful worlds, instead of being sick and moody al the time.

When I heard Amy’s story for the very first time, I was both happy and shocked, although it didn’t come as a complete surprise. Somehow, I knew that in my family there would be someone who would continue the vocation and the duty of being a visionair or healer. The shock I am talking about has to do with her vision being way higher than I can comprehend, or than I had ever thought. Especially in view of her young age. Normally she needs to go through a process of traditional training and guidance by traditional healers to reach that stage, but in her case it’s so natural… it’s just jawdropping.

At this moment James is very happy for having his guardian angel physically in his house, next to his other beautiful, slightly older daughter Naomi, ‘who breaths love, listening and compassion. Amy is more a straight forward go-getter, knowing what she wants with a huge force and energy’.

James continues: I like to tell spiritual stories, stories of enlightenment. I asked my grandfather once: ‘Why do we die?’ He answered: ‘We are just visitors here. When we die, we go back to our ancestors’ home. You must always ask their protection, be thankful and pay attention to them. The more you forget them, the more stressful and unfortunate you will become.’ So I became really interested in finding out about different kind of religions, the bible, spirituality, ect.

James concludes: Religion is a manmade thing. In reality we are one. We are all spiritual beings with a high energy-level of self-healing/compassion/love/humanity. We ended up allowing this small amount of energy (illuminati or cabal) to consume the whole of mankind. That is why today we are living in such a chaotic world. We ended up living in a cage of illusion. It is up to us, all of us, to awaken and to follow the natural course again: respecting nature, respecting each other,… This humanity is essentially a loving race.

When I ask James if moving to Belgium has been difficult, he answers yes, that is was difficult at first, ‘but I had to accept it as a new beginning of my life’s journey.’

Off course, Belgium has a good insurance system (health, schooling, pension,…). And politics in Africa started following the Western style, so the rich get more rich and the poor become poorer. Due to a system that promotes individuality, the consumption society/materialistic world stays in control. What is yours, is yours. Let’s say community life and community values here are very different from what I know of South Africa. I was used to helping one another. Especially in the villages where I grew up, where the ‘Ubuntu-concept’ is still alive to some extent: ‘I am because we are’.

Plus I can really feel when people wear a mask or pretent to be opposite of what they really are. There was a lot in Belgium which made me very insecure and led me back to my cocoon, my shell. Until my daughter Amy showed me the light I had always longed for. I lived in the dark, in a cage of self-destruction. I didn’t want to show or speak up about my (inner-)knowledge, share my feelings,…

At the moment, James works as an elephant keeper in Pakawi Park (Olmen/Limburg). In South Africa I was a trainer and a guide in a big wildlife reserve. For me, here in Belgium, working with animals in cages, is a huge challenge to cope with because I find it sad to see a magnificent animal being locked up. However, I understand the method that came into being a long time ago, for the sake of educational programmes, to have those animals close by so that they can learn more about them.

Instinctively wild animals know they are wild animals. They need a lot of space so they can live without stress. My contribution is to be there to give them love, protection, care and nourishment. I try to entertain them by talking to them, to exercise together, to spoil them with special treatments. To let them feel worth it to be present there. Elephants have the best and longest memories, they will never forget when you did something wrong. They can feel it immediately if you are real and pure.

I really know there is more than only this life. What is happening today, has to do with previous lives’ errors. The old energy comes back to clarify these errors. It’s the reincarnation of the lightworkers. In the past, there were only a few lightseekers and they were eliminated quickly. Now it is time for the big awakening. Lots of them are coming up. We are with so many right now. You hear it in music, stories,… even homeless people talk about enlightenment!

We need to ask ourselves questions: ‘Why us? Why now? Why here? We have a specific role to play on this planet, and that has obviously nothing to do with the way we are living our lives right now. Mother nature is reacting differently – out of the ordinary – towards our actions because we are so distracted towards her. She can’t breath anymore and is getting suffocated because we are destroying her… How are we destroying her? By deforestation, ocean pollution, air pollution,… Her hart, her longs, her intestines, all her internal organs are ripped out every day and night…

James sees the future with lots of chaos: Our health, the economic system… Emotionally and physically disturbance will be everywhere… but this is just for a short period of time, in order for the humans to awaken, to realise that we are living in an illusion. We are killing ourselves, thinking we have to do exactly what they tell us to do. But now, all that is going to be releaved and changed for ever for the next generations to come.

As one said: ‘Revolution will not be televised, but now it will be televised.’




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