About The Founder

Prof Velaphi Victor Ka Luphuzi Mkhize, a poet, organic and academic intellectual businessman, spiritual advisor and entrepreneur is currently an Associate Professor at CIDA City Campus. He is also the founder and President of Umsamo African Institute and the Chairman/CEO of Ichibi Lomnotho Investments Holdings.
Prof Mkhize has more than 22 years experience in Corporate and Business Communication and Strategic Marketing.
Prof Mkhize was born in 1956, at Glebelands in Durban, where he also started his first two years of school at Glebelands Primary School. He later moved to Encwadi, where he started his STD 1 at St Gertrude’s Mission and completed his STD 4 in 1966. It is during this time where he was exposed to the practice of an African Culture and Tradition by his elder father, who also introduced him to the belief of the Amathongo (ancestors).

In 1970 he passed his STD 6 at Ncwadi BC School, and in the following year 1971 joined Mpande Secondary School, for his Junior Certificate Education. In 1973 he finished his Junior Certificate, and went to Vukuzakhe High School for his Matriculation. During his year of Matric, he started writing poems in IsiZulu, which were published four years later.


In 1977 he registered for his first degree (BA) at University of Zululand, specializing in Languages, Linguistics and Social Sciences. He completed his BA degree in 1979 and immediately registered for his second degree BA (HON) in 1980, which he passed in 1981.
After passing his BA (Hon) Degree he joined Vukuzakhe High School only for 2 years and later joined South African Broadcasting Corporation as Announcer in Radio Zulu. In 1989 he registered for his Masters Degree in Orality Literacy Studies with the former University of Natal which he passed in the very same year and registered for his PhD and graduated in 1992 in the same university. Between 1986 and 1990 he lectured at University of Durban Westville as a part time lecturer.
Read on …


After leaving SABC in1992, he joined Nissan SA Marketing in 1993 as Manager Communications and Public Relations. In 1995 he joined Human Sciences Research Council as Executive Director, 1996 joined National Housing Finance Corporation as Executive Manager Marketing and Communications. He then joined Spoornet in 1998 as Executive Manager Public Affairs. Whilst with Spoornet he registered for his MBA in Strategic Marketing with Hull University in the UK.
In 2000 he left Spoornet to pursue his own business interests which led him to form a company called Digicom Information Solutions with Alan Prentice, founder of ComuterNet which led him to become the MD of that company. In 2004, whilst an MD of Digicom he joined CIDA City Campus, as part-time lecturer. In May 2006 he was appointed as a full time Associate professor Business Communications at CIDA City Campus.



Prof Mkhize has published more than 6 poetry books in IsiZulu and current book is Umsamo: The New African Business Literacy to be published by Knowledge Resources. Shuter and Shooter is currently publishing his 7th poetry books and his first Essays book: Amagobolondo Olwandle.
Prof Mkhize has consulted for companies like: Johannesburg Roads Agency, Avalanche, Tianshi and many more. Prof Mkhize has participated in a number of seminars and Radio Shows on the African Issues, their values and morals. He is currently working on his book: The Wisdom of the Ancestors.

He is married to Nomzamo with four children.


The African Calendar

The African Calendar Year in the Zulu Culture is divided into Four Seasons: namely

  • Spring (Intwasahlobo)
  • Summer (Ihlobo)
  • Autumn (Ikwindla)
  • Winter (Ubusika)

These seasons are very important in the management of Umsamo and how people relate to their Ancestors. This arrangement is based on the understanding of various flowers, vegetables, when do they start giving out flowers and also losing their greenness. Secondly, the Zulu old people used to look at the moon (inyanga) when does it gets full to a stage of being a full moon. So the yearly months are all named after these events which happen at that particular time. The year in the Zulu Tradition starts in August and ends in July. These months are named as follows :  

Time In the ZULU Tradition

This was also based on the events as they happened during the day and at night: These times we noticed and named by looking at the Moon, Stars the son etc.


Finding Your Identity

Part II – Finding Your Identity, given your understanding of the nature of Amathongo

The biggest challenge facing an African Child in the present era is to find his/her identity. Such identity is being searched in many ways, others through various religions, and others through various ritual practices.
Most African people today are so much drowning in various religions. There are those who are trying to find meaning of life in Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. All these are in search of the so called ‘the living spirit’.
The word ‘ spirit’ is used in the Bible in several different ways – the Spirit of God, the spirit of man, and the whole realm of ‘spirits’, good or evil. In the Old Testament ‘Spirit of God’ is one of the ways in which God’s action may be mentioned without actually making the anthropomorphic statement that God did this or that. Thus the ‘Spirit of God’ likes the Word and the Wisdom of God, becomes a periphrastic description of God’s initiative and action in the creation, providential ordering, redemption and eschatological deliverance of the world as a whole and of Israel in particular.
Our current modern difficulty is: do the dead so-called Ancestors also become ‘living spirits’ after death?

The answer is YES, they become powerful ‘spirits’ after death. Taking the Bible as our point of departure, in the Bible persons are not thus separate and distinct; they flow into one another. A man lives in his sons, who may receive a portion of another man’s ‘spirit’ and thus may in some sense become that other man. A man may reappear in history as another person, who, though he is not the same person, is nevertheless in some way identified with him. Linking up this with the Bible, a good example is that of Elija who in the biblical tradition becomes almost the same person as Elisha; the biblical way of expressing this is to say that a double portion of Elija’s spirit is upon Elisha (11 Kings 2.9; cf Deut. 21:17), or that ‘the spirit of Elija dost rest on Elisha’ (11 Kings 2.15; cf Ecclus 48.12). Elija acts through Elisha.
When the Spirit of Yahweh comes upon Saul, he prophesies after the manner of the ecstatic prophets and – very significantly – is ‘turned into another man’ (1 Sam; 10.6, 10 ) Micah is contrasted with the false prophets because he is genuinely ‘full of power by the spirit of the Lord’ (Micah 3.8). Even Jesus himself is recorded attributing the prophetic words of David (Ps 110.1) to the activity of the Holy Spirit (Mark 12.36).
Therefore God gives words to his prophets through the operation of HIS Spirit.

In today’s lives we see many people being prophets, ‘Spiritual Healers’ in various ways. Those ‘spirits’ coming from their past forefathers/grandmothers and we start calling them Izinyanga, Izangoma, Abalozi, etc.

This working of the Spirit amongst men is by no means confined to the sphere of prophecy: the Old Testament attributes to the Spirit such things as Joseph’s skill as a ruler (Gen 41.38); Joshua’s military genius (Num 27.18) the Craftsmanship of Bezallel and Oholiab (Ex 31.2-6); and Moral excellence (Pss 51.10f); 143.10). The same is evident to some of our great leaders, who attribute their leadership skills whether in Business or in Life as powers of the Spirit coming from their ancestors.

An African life is a constant apprehension of the supernatural powers of the Spirit of the Ancestors, who are living in us, it may be described as walking by the Spirit, being led by the Ancestral Spirit, or living Spirit ( Gal 5.16, 18, 25; Rom 8.4, 14).

It is the very same Spirit which is the Spirit of Power, enabling Christians to perform deeds beyond their own Strengths ( 11Tim 1.7; Acts 1.8; 10.38; Rom 15.13; I Cor 2.4; Eph 3.16)

The belief by African people in the ancestors and how they value them is not taken from the vacuum, but has this kind of history, which we have forgotten but are trying hard to bring forward as the Umsamo African Institute in researching on it and its Wisdom.

Ancestors are therefore real Spirits.

Go back to Part I – Please click here to go back to Part I – The Nature of Amathongo


The Nature of Amathongo

This is a Two-Part article. Part I of this article is about the Nature of Amathongo, while Part II is about Finding Your Identity, given your understanding of the nature of Amathongo.

Part I follows next (The Nature of Amathongo) :

Luisah Teish, author of the book Jambalaya, states “As we walk upon the Earth, our feet press against the bones of the Ancestors on whose shoulders we stand.”
This is the most powerful statement about the Ancestors, whom we call Amathongo (plural of Ithongo) in the IsiZulu Language. Sometimes we refer to these people as Amadlozi (pl. of Idlozi) which means something different from amathongo. Idlozi is the ‘spirit’ that possesses a person to become an African Uhlanya (healer), whereas Ithongo is a dead person whom we believe that he is not dead but alive in the land of the ancestors (kwela baphansi).

Malidoma Some in his book The healing wisdom of Africa about ancestors says: “Ancestors are at a disadvantage because they know how to improve things and yet they do not have the body required to act on what they know. We are at a disadvantage because although we have bodies we often lack knowledge to carry things out properly. This is why spirits like to work through us; the person with a body is an ideal vehicle to manifest things in this world. It is important to understand that when we feel that something is missing in our life, when we feel somehow disconnected or displaced, that these feelings are a sign for us to repair our connection with the world of ancestors and spirits.”

Amathongo are part of us, and people who happened to live with us on this earth. When we bury the dead, we are only burying the body, but not the spirit because the spirit continue to stay with us and they stay at their special place called Umsamo, an African Ancestral Shrine.

One of the most effective ways to connect with Ancestors is to set up an Ancestor umsamo (altar or shrine). Doing so provides us with an invaluable tool to help focus our attention and awareness of their presence in our lives.

These Amathongo are honored by doing various rituals or providing food at certain times. How you honor and revere your Ancestors is a personal thing. At your umsamo you can pray, talk, sing, chant, cry, meditate, recite poetry, etc. You can whisper or shout to them the most intimate details of your life. There is no right or wrong way to communicate with them and pay your respects. The important thing is that you do, and that you are sincere and genuine. It must come from your heart! In return, the Ancestors will provide guidance, encouragement, and support. In time, your relationship with them will grow and you may find that you look forward to a daily commune with your Ancestors. After all, its family!

We have been talking about the ‘spirit’, saying that our dead people we call ancestors are the living spirits and continue living like that. We worship them as spirits that bring guidance, wisdom and prosperity in our lives.

Part II – Please click here to proceed to Part II – Finding Your Identity

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Iziko Paradigm

Societal Spiritual Services

1. Youth Workshops

  • Value of the Ancestors
  • African Indigenous Wisdom Debates

2. Cultural Traditions

  • Traditional Practices e.g. Lobola, Slaughtering
  • Cultural Rituals and the meaning
  • Processes of Ancestralisation.

3. Umsamo® and Religion

  • The interpretation and Understanding
  • Relationship between Western Religions and African Religions
  • From Ubuntu to Umsamo®.
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Ezomuzi Paradigm

Corporate Spiritual Services (Ezomuzi)

1. Umsamo Philosophy:

  • Definition of Umsamo
  • Principles and values of Umsamo
  • Business values and applications of Umsamo
  • Universal Practices of Umsamo

2. Management and Leadership

  • Umsamo and management
  • Principles of Umsamo and Leadership
  • Management Ethics within Umsamo Philosophy
  • Umsamo FOUR Pillars in Business Management

3. African Leadership and Umsamo

  • Ancestral Wisdom in African Leadership
  • Ancestral Collective Thinking Philosophy in Leadership
  • The Spirit of Totality under umsamo Philosophy
  • People leadership under Umsamo

4. Umsamo Principles in daily Business Management

  • The Spirit of creating
  • Employee Engagement
  • Employee Meaning