My People and Water

Like all kids growing up in a semi-rural space, most of our games took place by the river. This is quite evident in most of our repertoires and river songs. Alongside us playing by the river, we were also told numerous stories about gigantic creatures that lived in the river, most of our cleansing rituals took place by the river and even the famous ‘ukweshela’ took place by the river.

During the mid to late 80s violence in KwaZulu Natal my family moved from Emaqongqo to a village called Emgodini in Pietermariztburg. Emgodini literally looked like a hole between mountains, there was a special presence in this village. Our temporary home was built not far from the river banks of Umsunduzi which meant as children we would be spending most of our playing time by the river.

On a beautiful summer day, I thought I had overcame my phobia with the river. Something drew me in, I eventually let go and jumped in. It felt like I had just entered another planet, I heard sounds I’ve never experienced before, there was a lot of light. As I wondered what was taking place, seconds became hours, hours to days, days to years and eventually I came out through the help of one of the elderly man that happened to be around.

As I came out there were a lot of people, neighbors, friends standing by the river banks. Everyone looked worried, apparently I had been gone for quite a while and therefore most people were amazed to see me come out alive. Quite honestly I do not know what had happened but I felt transported to another world and I was struggling with coming back.

River stories and songs

Nduduzo Makhathini

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