South Africa

Maverick Life, South Africa

Podcast: First Person, Ep 02 – The Granny on a Magic Mushroom Mission

Podcast: First Person, Ep 02 – The Granny on a Magic Mushroom Mission

71-year-old grandmother and former nurse, Monica Cromhout, might be an unlikely campaigner for the benefits of psychedelic magic mushrooms, but she’s at the forefront of the drive to have South Africa’s drugs laws declared unconstitutional. Mushrooms, she believes, hold the key to solving many of our society’s problems. How Monica went from conventional, law-abiding teetotaler to passionate evangelist for the benefits of the psychedelic is the subject of the second episode of First Person, the Kagiso Media podcast series launched earlier this month. Hosted by Daily Maverick’s MARIANNE THAMM.

First Person aims to uncover the extraordinary stories that lurk behind some of the most ordinary-looking South African front doors – in Monica’s case the door of a very normal house in a quiet street in Somerset West. It was there that she had her first mushroom experience during which she was given the message that she should open a school for mushrooms. How she did that and how that, in turn, led to her arrest, brief imprisonment and determination to challenge the law is all revealed in the podcast.

Of course Monica’s story is apparently bizarre, but it is also more than that,” says Marianne. “It’s about being open to new experiences, to whatever comes your way. It is also about standing up for something you really believe in. It takes a lot to fight a system that says you aren’t right, I respect that.”

Photo: Marianne and Monica take a tour of Monica’s garden where some of the Soma participants would hang out. (Photo: Jayne Morgan)

Monica is almost the perfect First Person subject,” says podcast producer, Jayne Morgan. “The series is all about people who are not what they seem, who are quietly doing things you’d never imagine if you walked past them in the street or sat next to them in a bar, and Monica is probably the most unlikely ‘shroom user you can imagine. Plus she’s an amazing storyteller. We think that this edition will really take listeners on a journey of discovery – in more ways than one.” DM

Find First Person – Monica Cromhout on or access it and subscribe via iTunes. It’s a free download.

Main photo: Monica demonstrates how she used to set the mood with a suitable soundtrack. (Photo: Jayne Morgan)


Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

[%% img-description %%]

The Spy Bill: An autocratic roadmap to State Capture 2.0

Join Heidi Swart in conversation with Anton Harber and Marianne Merten as they discuss a concerning push to pass a controversial “Spy Bill” into law by May 2024. Tues 5 Dec at 12pm, live, online and free of charge.

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.8% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.2% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.2% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.2%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options