Searching for Home

After walking a long distance through the forest he still could not find home. His body was becoming weak as he had not eaten or had anything to drink in days. He was starting to loose hope and believing that his entire displacement came as a result of fate.

As thoughts ran through his mind, a voice said to him: ‘look behind you, you are so deep in thoughts that you even went past the very home you have been searching for’ then the voice vanished. Still amazed at what he just heard, he looked back and indeed saw a beautiful house with golden gates. His heart was filled with joy.

He went towards the gates, and as he got closer the gates opened. He walked towards the door but fell right outside as he was approaching. He then began to dream, in his dream he had entered the door.

Umbono

Nduduzo Makhathini

Routines and Rituals (Reflecting on my recent travels)

There are certain things that we take lightly about traveling ‘abroad’ that often go against our daily routines/rituals. Today I want to quickly reflect on a recent experience that I had.

Naturally, there is only so much one thinks of when they visit a country with a unique time zone to that of their country of birth. Regularly, we become more concerned about the weather, the food, the people and other more obvious things. For instance, when I knew that I would be traveling to the US, I made sure that I pack all the warm clothes in my bag since it is winter time this side, but those were just about all my considerations.

Now through my experience, I realize that the most important thing I had forgotten to do was to send a message/text to the ‘underworlds’ informing them about the difference in time zones. Naturally, I alerted them about the trip, since I needed their blessings and light. But did not go into detail about our communication times and schedules as marked in the original timetable. On a normal day at home, I communicate with them in two separate modalities and times. The first one being, chants and prayers (sometimes including music), this often takes place during the day. It also involves more of a visualization of their presence than a direct contact. While the second mode involves dreams, often taking place in my sleep (another place) or when my body is not active, meaning my mind too is resting. The later does not require any reasoning from the mind, whereas the former does and entirely relies on past experience, knowledge, logic and such. The former is totally aware of the physical surroundings, the later is not but it projects a new surrounding/reality.

The time-space concepts are also different in these two modalities. It’s important to also note that, on the one hand, awake-ness completely shuts down our ‘birds eye view’, this is to say we can only see what surrounds us. On the other hand, and contrary to awake-ness, deep sleep (ubu’thongo) allows multiple views of self. In a dream we see our surroundings and ourselves within those surroundings.

Let me get back to what I experienced yesterday. It so happened that the great ones from the ‘underworlds’ had visited with an important and urgent message to send through me. Upon their arrival they found the body awake, filled with limited reasoning of man and perhaps in that way less receptive. The mind and the body did not want to give in to the moment and what was being said. There arose tensions between the mind and the technologies of receiving from outer space.

This constant conflict began to generate a rather strange and unfamiliar feeling. At the same time the only way the mind could read these signals was ‘I am falling asleep’ but it was actually something else that I have never felt before. In retrospect, I think they (the ancestors) just wanted my mind to shut down so I could be more receptive to their message but I didn’t quite get it in that moment. I also admit that as humans we are used to preparing for these things. The damage is to an extent that we have developed a number of routines that act as bridges from ‘awake-ness’ to a ‘dream-state’. For instance, we need to wear pyjamas, we need a bed and blankets, we need to close our eyes, and we need to be in particular position to fall asleep and dream. In short this process is not instant but requires a certain amount of negotiation between the two realms of our consciousness, with the body being the least  natural party in the negotiation game.

In that moment of confusion and refusal to fall asleep. With a nacked eye, I started seeing ‘beings’ that were not necessarily ‘there’ in terms of what that means for a human experience but nonetheless these beings demanded and grabbed my attention. They even walked through objects and other people that were in the building with me. It became a complete juxtaposition of two worlds both happening in real-time. It got so busy and loud that a glimpse of that experience shoot me right into deep sleep. Through a minute of sleep and experiencing what could be referred to as hypnagogic jerks, and that is when a friend woke me up to go outside for some fresh air.

Lessons/Reflections:

One needs to fully acknowledge the co-existence and parallelism of these two worlds and perhaps more as our consciousness widens. If our communication with the ‘underworlds’ is a type of technology (which it is according to my experience of it), then we need to be more cognizant of the kinds of coding and programming that should be implemented prior a change in time zones. We need a form of text that will signal a kind of ‘roaming status’ so to speak, as a neccesity for a coordinated communication to the underworlds.

Another option is to completely break away and remove the walls that exist between the two realms so that the communication and overlaps are encouraged rather then suppressed and further resisted. But this might also mean some level of danger for this ‘world’, for instance an uncommunicated ancestral visit that puts one to an instant sleep mode whilst driving. This example might result into two things; firstly an accident and secondly a possibility to allow the ancestor to drive your car. Well check it out!!!

Siyathokoza

Nduduzo Makhathini

The Ones that Wished to See the Gods: Okusemfihlakalweni

It was known among the villagers that gods walked around at night when all the people were sleeping. This ideology informed for instance how people behaved at night to how they even built their homesteads. Most of them left plenty open land in between their homes due to a belief that their gods were huge and needed enough space to walk during their visits. Some made offerings, living outside their homes drinks and food overnight to be eaten by these gods. Some had objects at the borders of their homes as symbols their respect to the gods.

While more curiosity grew within the younger folks of the village, the older generation had no ambitions of seeing the gods since they were content with the belief that ‘the gods were only seen through their works and not in their physical bodies’. Some elderly women believed that any person that sees a god would instantly loose their eye sight.

On certain evening, younger folks stayed up, hiding in the nearby forests hoping that at midnight they will see the gods. But even they would eventually fall asleep, only seeing the gods in their dreams and sometimes partially during certain sacred rituals when they transported into a trance state.

The people that knew more about the gods were healers. These men and women formed part of a higher hierarchy in the community. They were even trusted by the kings and queens for being a channel of communication between humans and their gods. Some of them shared testimonies about how certain gods looked, spoke and even walked like. Among other common themes, was a belief that the gods were tall, some with three eyes, some with multiple arms and often their feet did not touch the ground.

As the need to see the gods grew in the village, a meeting was called between all kinds of healers, diviners, poets, musicians and thinkers to create a strategy for all people to see the gods. The planning took several years on the nearby mountain known as The Mountain of the Old God. People often visited this mountain to speak to their ancestors that were perhaps not seen in dreams. The belief was that every ancestor that has not finished climbing this mountain would not appear in dreams. Most of the people would them climb on behalf of an ancestor.

One day the king sent out message to the people that the healers were coming back to the village and a welcoming ritual was to be prepared. As expected large crowd of people was seen coming closer to the village. Some healers were carrying newborn babies, some young children could walk for themselves. A group of drummers played behind the crowd. It was indeed a beautiful view.

The news were delivered to the villagers that at midnight the gods will visit and so everyone stayed awake celebrating what would a groundbreaking moment. There were all types of drinks and food being served. The musicians played enchanting songs, of which some were new songs given to them by the ancestors during their visit at The Mountain of the Old God.

At midnight a big sound was heard, it sounded like nothing that was ever heard in human history before. In that moment a rainbow-like tunnel of light appeared right above their heads. Soon everyone disappeared into the tunnel and the entire village transformed into a beautiful river of eternity.

Umbono 01.01.2019

Nduduzo Makhathini

Itshe Lezibankwa (The Land of Lizards)

Then I arrived in a village built over the stone of miracles. In this village all types of food and herbs grew over night and no man had to work or plant but everything grew organically from the ground. Their waters had a healing force, curing all types of diseases. People slept under the trees and never had to build any shelter.

There were two tribes that lived in this village, the dark skinned (also known as the people of song) and the light skinned (also known as the foreign people). The dark skinned lived on top of the rocks and had been fighting all types of lizards, mostly the crocodiles for thousands of years so I was told. The wise ones believed that the crocodiles were the first inhabitants of these precious stones. The light skinned tribe spoke a unique language and they were seldom seen because they lived inside the stones with the lizards.

On the day I arrived, the great king of the dark skinned people had just killed a huge crocodile. I was also told that the dark skinned people used crocodile oil to burn as sacrifice to their ancestors. Though this practice was perceived by the light skinned people as a bad omen, since the great god of the lizards would come out later in the day to pay revenge.

Over the years the dark skinned people had been divided into two groups, the one group followed the customs of the ancient people and those of the king. The other group had been ‘saved’ meaning they subscribed to the foreign cultures of the light skinned people.

In preparation for the great god of the lizards’ revenge, the light people came out of the stones to offer a special drink to the ‘saved’. I was told that this drink protected them from being killed by the great god of the lizards.

In the evening, as expected the great god of the lizards came out. The ‘unsaved’ dark skinned people went across the river of healing waters where they began to sing their songs, a deep vibration was felt in the entire village as they started dancing.

Then I woke up singing the song of the dark skinned.

Iphupho 30. 12. 2018

Nduduzo Makhathini

INGOMASBHULO

Fascinated by the kinds of totalities embedded in African indigenous languages and words, for several years I have ventured on a pilgrimage to find alternative vocabularies for the work that one is involved in. Quite recently, I have found a word for the genre of work/music I partake in and co-create, together with the work I have been tasked to do by my ancestors.

Here are some key indicators to the genre of work I’m involved in; ritualistic in nature, strong healing properties, power to produce meaning[s] through divination, links to outer-space and capacity to evoke the spirit of an ancestor.

All the above signifiers and more are captured in this hybrid Zulu word ‘ingoma-sbhulo’. On the one hand, Ingoma is a word used in multiple contexts ranging from song, healing, a ritual to a drum. On the other hand, ukubhula (throwing of bones) is a process of diving. It is an ancient technology that uses objects to unpack meaning[s].

I believe that somehow if our genres of work like our mountains and rivers are named in more deliberate ways, it channels are particular energy to the work.

Siyathokoza

Nduduzo Makhathini

Imihlaba Isondelene: Time-Space Overlaps

An ancestor had been traveling through the sky over her village, when she suddenly heard a melody. Those who knew her before habitually told her great grandchildren about her love for the drum. 

Moved by the sound of the drum, she came closer. A group of drummers and singers had been playing for over seven days without rest. The space was charged with ‘ase’, miracles were witnessed. The blind started to see, the sick were healed.

The ancestor joined the ritual in dance and song until everyone had gone. Soon after her physical body emerged, looking the same as she did before her departure. She was amazed at what had just happened as she had never been inside a body for decades. 

There were also various types of traditional beers left by the elders after the performance ritual. She began to indulge in the drinks until she eventually got tired and fell asleep. 

The next morning the entire village came around her body deeply astounded. When she heard their voices she woke up and her body vanished. 

Umbono 

Nduduzo Makhathini 

IZILOKOTHO ZAMANZI: LIVING WATERS

Is it not astounding that the very water that carries a flood charged with aggressiveness and disruptiveness removing people’s homes and taking lives, can also be still as a space for healing and for humans to drink from.

There is also something to be said about the profound ways in which water presents the idea of harmony and unity. Water is never separated even as it meanders and branches between mountains, the intention is always to find a larger community.

It is also delightful to note how water travels for miles only to fulfill the needs of others, to give to the ones who are thirsty.

Water’s willingness to contribute and dissolve into the totality of things is intrinsically inspiring. Perhaps water knows something we do not know about the cyclical nature of existence, the beginning is also the end.

Imicabango

Nduduzo Makhathini