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 of 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 evenings, younger folks would 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 state of trance.

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 after their transitioning would not appear in dreams. Most of the people would then 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 must be prepared. As expected a large crowd of people was seen coming towards 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 be a groundbreaking moment. There were all types of drinks and food being served. The musicians played enchanting songs, some of which were new 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 ever heard in human history before. In that moment a rainbow-like tunnel of bright 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

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