During the festive and on Christmas Day to be precise, I was spending time with family. While we were braaing some meat (which most of it was eaten between two of my uncles, myself, my younger brother and cousins even before getting to the kitchen where the main feast preparations were taking place) one of my uncles (a rare combination of inyanga and umfundisi which at times society surprisingly read as opposites) says to me:

Malume: ‘…Yes ancestors are able to project themselves in a physical body’

Mshana: ‘You mean spirit possession?’

Malume: ‘Hhay mshana, I mean someone that has passed years ago visiting this realm in the same body that was known to his family, sometimes wearing clothes that they worn when they were ‘alive’ ’

Mshana: ‘Hhawu’ (note that this is not the English ‘how’ but in iSiZulu it expresses a feeling of shock or surprise)

Malume: ‘There was once a man, he completely disregarded and disbelieved in the existence of ancestors and he taught his family that it was all a myth and never existed. He got old, fell sick and died. In his journey as spirit he realized that he is been living in an illusion. In his travels as spirit he soon found all his relatives that had ‘died’, they were all very unhappy about his disobedience. They instructed him to do a ceremony for them to ask for forgiveness, they also instructed him that part of the ritual was he had to go back and discuss with his family in his physical body. He immediately did as instructed, upon his arrival his family was shocked and all ran away from him. He sat quietly until one on his sons came back, sat and listened to his late fathers story. Soon after the ceremony took place, after all the proceedings he left and went back to his ancestors where he was now accepted…’

Mama: Lunch is served everyone

Mshana: ‘Cha ijulule lendaba Malume’

Translated from iSiZulu

Nduduzo Makhathini

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