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

The Three Spirits that Descended: Exploring Piano Approaches

One day, when our ancestors first heard the piano in their dreams, before it was even made, they loved it so much that a huge conference was held somewhere beneath the earth. The meeting was, among other things, to discuss what spirits would occupy the various ranges and registers of this huge instrument and for what purpose[s].

The elderly men said, they wanted to occupy the lower register. They felt that in this way they would be sitting closer to the doors of all musical possibilities. And thus becoming the gate way to all knowledge and all creation would named after them to reclaim their immortality. As they wished all was given. Melodies and chords were named after them, all sounds were rooted in them. These men spoke in low frequency voices, they had less to say and often uttered one word at a time.

Then the mothers said, they wanted to occupy the middle range, as they believed that it was a space of all inspiration. Their wish was granted, they became the heart and soul of all music and a bridge that shaped sounds before, now and future sounds. They provided all music with a gift of infinite harmonic possibilities. These mothers sang in multiple voices, through their harmony, music found the warmth of a home and mysteries of tomorrow.

Finally, the children then said, they wanted to occupy the upper register as a space of excitement and exploration. Their wish was permitted and the upper register became a safe space where all children lived and played day in, and day out. Their music was an echo from the teachings of yesterday, the teachings elders. They became an extension of a mother.

Revelations (31052019)

Nduduzo Makhathini

A Glimpse of Freedom

Forgetting has caused us pain, it has divided us and robbed us of our collective memory. We are now scattered in foreign lands, and even in the lands of our ancestors we have become visitors. In our forgetfulness we have lost that which make, define and unite us.

The past that we hate so much has stolen evocations of our hijacked futures. We suffer a history of stolen years and a future of ‘borrowed’ years. We are born within histories that have reduced us to moving images of our unrealized potentials of self. Glimpses of our freedoms resides in our rituals, art, dreams and prayers, through which we are able to reconnect with our inner essence but this too is temporary. Can our freedom go beyond song, that moment of singing, of drumming and prayer? Perhaps our very songs will someday transform our realities in this strange world.

The memories we have lost, are memories of tomorrow.

Imicabango 24.05.2019

Nduduzo Makhathini