A girl that was given a magic stone

[This dream felt different, and uncommon in some way. It was unusual in that, most of what I saw had an intense deja vu feeling to it. Places looked familiar, some of the people I saw were people I know, people I currently live with and the ones that have transitioned. I also noticed that the setting looked very similar to where I was born eMbubu, in Sweetwaters eMgungundlovu. The dream it felt like a moment I was re-living, a song I’ve sung before]

It was almost at midnight, it felt as though the moon was watching us and over us. It was in winter, a fire right at the center of the kraal kept us warm but it also gave a unique kind of light. Its flames appeared like responses to our conversations, almost as though the fire itself had been listening and formed part of our conversation.

Throughout the day, we had listened to several teachers, poets, artists, musicians, dancers, poets and storytellers giving anecdotes, talking about what inspires them, what they’ve seen and the lives they’ve lived. They also, passionately, shared on their unique perspectives and approaches to life, some even demonstrated how their understanding of life informed their organic artistic outlooks.

I remember one poet sharing about her process, telling us how poetry helped her understand society and her place better. She continued to say that, it was through poetry that she understood the need to have a voice, and to then use that voice to bring about change. She spoke with great command and a particular rhythm. As she spoke, someone whispered in my ear that, as it was after midnight and part of the tradition was, a guest master artist would speak after her and offer a special blessing to one of the artists in the audience. And so it was time to listen really closely. We all set around the fire, listening attentively and all hoping we become the chosen ones.

Soon after a great talk from the poet, the master began to deliver his talk. As he started, a young girl with an extremely particular radiance, walked towards the kraal. For a moment we were all quiet, her presence was intense it filled in the entire space. She carried an unusual flute with her, and looked as though she had been accompanied by the stars. She did not look like any of us and I had also not seen her throughout during the entire programs. She had a remarkable grace.

It seemed as though the master too could not resist her charisma. As the girl walked inside the kraal, the master quickly asked, ‘who are you and how can I assist young lady?’. She responded, ‘my name is not important oh great one, I just want to be in your presence. I had traveled for many days so I could see you.’ Then she kept quiet, some older men standing behind started to mumble as they thought the young girl wasn’t as interesting as she appeared to be. Quite surprisingly, on the contrary, she didn’t look distracted by any of the comments and the ridiculing. She instead kept her eyes focused on the master.

The master then continued to speak and said, ‘I have no words of wisdom to give to you this morning but I think our ancestors have brought this young lady to us, from unknown lands, for a very special reason.’ He then said, ‘young lady since you also have no words, play us your flute.’

In no time the young girl began to play. As she was playing a huge cluster of bees appeared above us, then around master’s head. They danced for while, until they drop something on the master’s hand after which they disappeared.

Then the master said, ‘at times words are not necessary. The universe hears our intentions much deeper than what we could say or explain in words. And I say to you all, be an artist in all that you do and let it cut through in all that you are.’

‘Create a world you wish to live in and when you pick up your instrument, let it be a moment to allow your audience and all that is around you, an opportunity to enter your world. Play, dance, paint and sing gracefully.’

He then handed a magic stone to the young girl, and as he did two huge birds came and carried her to the stars. She left us all with a song.

I woke up singing

Iphupho 10082019

Nduduzo Makhathini

Echoes from the Past

I then arrived in a strangely beautiful place. The village had some of the unusually tallest trees I had ever seen, they overlooked everything. As I looked even deeper, I noticed that these trees moved in a very particular way. They danced to the rhythm of the sun.

Fascinated by such synchronicity, I stood underneath the trees for a long while. At one point I heard birds of many types sing in a kind of unison, they too sung to the sun. I tried to look for them but my eye sight could not reach them.

I then heard the sound of a drum traveling from afar. Some force pulled me towards its direction. I began to follow the sound. The closer I got to the initial sound, another sound pattern emerged as a response but sounded even further away. Of course I followed each call carefully, though note reaching its location, until the next idea emerged.

I was caught in this experience for several days but not reaching the musicians that performed this incredible music. The more I heard these sounds, my heart pumped even faster. From deep within, my anticipation grew and I became filled with hope that I would soon reach the source of all this beauty. Eventually, my feet got tired and I could no longer walk around the village. I fell on the ground, it seemed as though all the trees around me had eyes and they were looking at me with empathy.

I could not keep my eyes open anymore, the sun shined through the trees. With my eyes closed and still hearing this great music, I imagined what each musician, their drums and the surroundings may have looked like. I soon became lost in a beautiful dream.

In a dream my guide then told me that, the sounds I was hearing had nothing to do with an actual drum, musician, birds or even a particular place in this universe. He continued to say, these sounds came from the gods whom lived here millions of years ago. Since they left, all that lives in this village take turns in singing and projecting their songs in their memory. In closing he also said, the only way to witness these sounds closely is through transcending the material world into the planets of the gods.

Then I woke up and realized I had fallen off my bed. To this very moment I’m still hearing the echoes of the drums.

Iphupho 02082019

Nduduzo Makhathini

Isiguqo: Isonto Lezayoni

These sessions were some of the best in my ‘church days’. You see, these churches didn’t speak about material things, success in materialistic forms, it didn’t matter how much money you had or not had.

Instead the services were concerned with creating and facilitating passageways/bridges with unseen realms of our being and consciousness. We were involved in processes of seeking particular kinds of alignments and synchronicities with surroundings, family, community and deeper contacts between man, their gods and ancestors. We were seeking a magic world.

The belief was, if one attains some connection with the spiritual dimensions, the physical dimensions would project forms on manifestations at a material level. That is to say that, if one is in tune with the divine, a universal harmony comes forth in all aspects of their lives.

Now, let me explain how I was made to understand all of this ‘technology’ through my grandma’s teachings. Isiguqo is a prayer meeting/ritual in the Zionist church that seek affinities with spirit dimensions. This type of ceremony is commonly held at the top of a hill, this is due to our forefathers beliefs in the sacredness and symbolism of such spaces. I attended a lot of these in my upbringing.

In actual fact, these became my initial encounters of trance, miracle making, magic and witnessing prophecies that frequently resulted to healing of diverse illnesses and health/psychological conditions. Most of which was practiced through spiritual means, with an exception of water as a healing tool and symbol from time to time. People would bring water containers with the hope that water has memory to code healing energy, they would then use this water for a range of functions.

Of course my favorite part of isiguqo was a performance of iskhalanga, that is when a magic world would open. Iskhalanga is a kind of spiral and cyclical ritual dance whereby the dance circulates around a kind of center. This dance is often accompanied by strong hand clapping (sometimes with a drum) and a song that is sung by the entire congregation. The song often emerges from composed materials, to multiple variations, improvisations and counterpoint, until it blossom and dissolves to a completely new piece of music.

It is in these moments, of taping into a kind of new-unknown that an invisible and body-less spirit enters the room. It is believed that this spirit enters from the center of dance circle (iskhalanga). During this grace period, whomsoever that is in need of any type of healing is unconsciously pulled to the center by some sort of magnetic fields. After which a prophet, the chosen one (osebenza ngesithunywa) puts her/his hands over their head. As soon as the two connect spiritually, messages and texts are sent through the prophet and he/she begins to prophesy emanating to a healing process.

Furthermore, the potency of this energy portal and center where isithunywa channels all these messages through a prophet, is believed to inspire and dictates the flow of rhythm, mood and pace of iskhalanga and the ritual at large. When the spirit is high the pace goes faster making it slightly more complex for anyone outside the dance to enter the circle. It requires a deep alertness, a submission to the spirit world to find alignment with the physical realm and the greater rhythm of life.

It is an entering to a universal synchronicity, forming a type of unison with the music of the spheres. It is here that, the margins between the two worlds (seen and unseen) are temporarily dissolved, the walls between body and soul collapse into a totality, a kind one oneness and a trance experience.

During iskhalanga the body feels so light, traveling even faster and at a deeper level it becomes impossible to even feel any pain especially underneath the feet as the practice is done barefoot. It becomes almost as if the ground itself embellishes our very song.

From a young age, experiencing such power, it became clear what the purpose of music and dance should be throughout my life. It is this kind of transcendence that cultivated such deep belief in sound. I come to understand music, sound, dance and rituals in this mode.

To this day I constantly search for these connections in my practice as a healer/improvisor. I am looking for iskhalanga of the soul, a magic world.

Reflections 15072019

Nduduzo Makhathini

Isexwayiso

She ululated from the top of the mountain. Hidden in the clouds that had come so close to the ground, no one could see her face. Though her words were as clear as light, a human need to see only with the naked eye blinded their sensitivity to sound and words.

Whilst she spoke news from the gods, in complete blasphemy some of the villagers even said, we cannot listen to those who are not willing to show their faces to us. The voice continued to speak and said very loudly, we are like nomads our pilgrimage never reaches no end, I say unto you, it is time to move to another world. I invite you to a magic world.

While the villagers ignored her voice, something interesting started to take place. Animals of many kinds seemed to hear and understand her voice, they responded in joyful sounds and gravitated towards the direction of her voice. Even the children of the village began to walk towards the mountain while the elders carried on with their daily routines.

She again continued to speak and said I am sent by your gods, they have prepared a place for you all, it is a safe place, come with me. After her last word, all children and animals of various kinds that had listened disappeared into the clouds and were transported to a magic world.

We are the generation that got left behind, and another voice is calling once again.

Iphupho 12072019

Nduduzo Makhathini

Icilongo

There was a time when divinities used to visit planets in their physical bodies. Part of these visits were to explore answers to some of humans kind’s deepest questions. When these wise ones visited they would choose, open spaces. These were lands where no human lived, the big gods had dedicated these spaces to themselves and the greater network of divinities. Some of the signifies and characteristics for these lands in planet earth would be for instance, weather conditions that are unbearable to human bodies, less fertile grounds among others.

Healers would travel to these sacred lands to pass on various messages and questions that humans had, but they too did not live here for longer periods. The wise ones, the divinities would then share their wisdom, spending time unpacking multiple perspectives and truths about life at times drawing examples from what was taking place in other realms and planets as anecdotes for planet earth. There are the ones that told us about the existence of other worlds. They were beings of the highest wisdom. It would be then the duty of the healers to listen as intense as possible to these news, and send back messages to the people in the most accurate ways.

After thousands of years being a healer myself but not invited to the conference of the wise ones, I eventually got an invitation through a series of dreams. In some dreams I was shown the lands of the big gods and others I saw their images, I heard their big voices. Soon I traveled with a group of healers, we traveled in ships faster than the speed of light. As we arrived, one of the senior divinities said to me, we have finally heard your drum and now it is your time to ask your deepest question.

After thinking for a long time, I then asked, what is life’s greatest question? He said all questions are great, and enquiry is an extremely potent tool for navigating life but once all questions have been answered they no longer exist as questions. So the greatest questions are the ones that do not have answers yet.

He continued and said, it is similar to death. It is a kind of question but the only way to answer is to die. Perhaps similar to music, that perceives silence as the greatest music. So it is my advice to you that you should immense yourself so deep in the search, in the question such that you forget, and put less attention to finding of any kind but that of yourself in the question itself.

The process of life itself is the truth of beauty and your greatest goal should be, I believe, to become a seeker and not gravitating towards reaching conclusions but more questions.

As he finished speaking, I heard our ship horn blast and it was time to leave.

Umbono

Nduduzo Makhathini

Visitations

The mood felt similar to that of December holidays back home in Pietermariztburg. I was taken back to my upbringing. But quite surprisingly, in these childhood moments, there were musicians that I’m currently working and collaborating with now. It felt as though we all waited there with anticipation for all our relatives that would be visiting from afar. Though we knew that uGogo Alphinah had now transitioned, she was part of the gathering and as usual she led us in prayer. I remember her quoting her usual prayer phrase ‘Simakade, siyazibeka kuwe, nezidalwa zonke ezisemagumbini amane omhlaba…’

After she finished praying she disappeared into the sky. From that point the atmosphere changed quite drastically. The mood had evolved from the busyness of the township, sounds of cars, people talking and loud sound systems, we started becoming more aware of the natural sounds, a deeper cosmic music. I recall a group of musicians that stood there with me making comments about how they also felt as though their hearing sensibilities had been heightened.

As we wondered, another layer of awareness emerged. The sky displayed various types of illustrations (similar to the work of Mzwandile Buthelezi) of gigantic and abstract beings we had never seen before, some had four legs, some three eyes. The view was profoundly beautiful and colorful. Some of the dominating colors were red, black, yellow and others.

Still taken by this beauty we all took out our modern day gadgets (cellphones, cameras) trying to capture these moments. To our astonishment, we were taken back to the human made noises and cloudy sky of this world. It felt as though we were being punished for not being able immense ourselves in such a sincere moment.

Iphupho 13062019

Nduduzo Makhathini