Liturgical Means of Learning: uKhuluma Nazo

The language of the people in the village was different, they viewed the world of gifts from a specific set of hermeneutic lens. I recall them saying: ‘Lensizwa yasixexebula isiginci engathi yasilalela emathuneni.’ They were obviously referring to another register of understanding knowledge dissemination that involves metaphysical passages.

From a young age, we got acquainted with very particular and (in retrospect) alternative and unique processes of ‘learning’ a musical instrument. We were told that all great musicians, magicians and artists were special beings, whom were chosen by the ancestors that had possessed similar talents and gifts before them. We were also informed that, though these beings (as ancestors), no longer lived in physical bodies, they were still able to communicate with living beings and through those means, were able to pass on their gifts to the living.

Moreover, in cases where one was the chosen one, he/she used be directed through a series dreams and visions to visit a particular ancestor’s tomb for an overnight ritual (sometimes up to three days). The ritual would be accompanied by sacrifices, chanting and singing after which one would get tired and at a particular point fall asleep with their instruments in their hands. We were also told that, in their sleep (ubu’thongo) their physical bodies would play all the repertoires channeled from the ancestry realms on a chosen instrument. It is believed that, it is also in this way that technical abilities and prowess[ness] in playing an instrument would be ‘coded’ from ancestral memory to their muscles and other dimensions of their memory.

Sometimes, for instance if the candidate had to become a maskanda guitarist, they’ll wake up day after the ritual with a particular tuning on their guitar that they would use their entire lives. In some rare cases, with a missing string and they would be given their gift in these kinds of ways which they would embrace and not alter moving forward. This also became a way of immortalizing an ancestor and their specific cultural practices.

The next day, through another ritual, they would be reincorporated back into the dimensions of the living. Following that would then be their inaugural performance where it would be actually their first time playing that particular instrument in their conscious modes. Part of the ceremony would be dedicate to storytelling, this part included the candidate sharing on his experiences in the ancestry realm. Those who spent a bit more time would even talk about details of certain ancestors passing regards and messages to some members of the family that were still living.

This outlook suggests that, there is a kind transcendence that overlap between our dream-state (trance-state) and our awake[ness]. Therefore, I further propose that these communication corridors with our ancestors be viewed as; some sort of technological means for interpreting texts from outer space[s] and embodiments of potential overlaps between these two realms of consciousness. This is especially urgent in an African context, where our cosmological window already views these dimensions as being intertwined.


Nduduzo Makhathini

Conversations with the Unseen: Them Too Need our Light

Three candles surfaced from the earth, two white ones and one red. Behind me a voice spoke and said ‘light them up, then step back to your position and don’t look behind you.’ I did as instructed.

Then the voice spoke again ‘Do you ever wonder that, we too need your light? We are also vulnerable beings in the spirit realm and we are also searching.’ I responded in fear ‘But I don’t even see you, how would I begin to imagine what you need.’ The voice then responded ‘That’s exactly how you’ve been failing us on this side. You neglect seeing in complete ways, because you believe in seeing only through your eyes. Now seek me within your heart and I shall appear.’

As I was still processing what was being said, I began to see multiple projections of myself all around, they appeared as though each represented one of the seven stages of my life’s journey. Some exhibited moments in my life as a child (playfulness), as an adult (searching)and some projected towards the future (blissfulness).

Then in unison they all pronounced ‘I have not gotten home yet, there is a river I need to cross, each time I’ve tried I have gotten tired and in that moment I have always found myself back by the river banks. It’s been many years and I have seen other spirits crossover but a kind of light shine over them.’

As I listened deeper, I noticed that twenty one candles had surfaced from the ground all around me and all in various colors. The voice spoke again, this time from a distance, and said ‘All of these stand for the ones that seek your light.’

Iphupho 07042019

Nduduzo Makhathini

From Another Time

It once was known to man that ‘magic’ was an extension of being. From realms of potentially ideas were verbalized, chanted, vocalized and eventually transformed and realized through layers of manifestations in physical forms.

The beautiful landscapes, mountains, rivers and valleys seen around us were once songs in someone’s imagination. Some songs presented themselves as suites over several days of meditations and some a single movement or phrase through a deep breath, yet each man was content with the resulting creation. All man’s thoughts collectively formed part of a larger universal tonality.

Someday soon humans shall remember a song that created the pyramids and will regain access to the divine properties and poetics of co-creation.


Nduduzo Makhathini



The soil had been kind to us for many centuries, giving birth to numerous kinds of crops; vegetables and fruits of all kinds. In the summers, the our fields were blessed with wonderful rains. Over the years, the children of this village had developed large repertoires of games and songs associated with these marvelous rains.

Until one evening, after the oldest mother of the village Mawiri had been sick for a long period, she received a dream. In this long dream she was told by the wise ones that, due to ignorance of our tribe and our leaders the village was going to experience a permanent drought. The wise ones continued to say that, the ancestors were unhappy and have cursed our land and its inhabitants for having not sung their rain song in decades.

Mawiri woke up at midnight and told her grandsons to hurry to the king’s palace and inform his royalty that there was an urgent message from the worlds of the ancestors. The boys did as told, and soon the king had brought the entire village to to Mawiri’s homestead.

As expected Mawiri, in her usual calmness, told the dream in detail after which she closed her eyes and died. Everyone began to mourn, both because Mawiri was an important member of our village, and she had not yet given her words of wisdom on this problem. The king then stood up as he we was still trembling, he asked ‘does any of you remember our ancestors’ rain song?’

No one responded… ‬

Iphupho 01042019

Nduduzo Makhathini

And I woke up thinking, it is our own dream, and I’m sure the story continues but even in our sleep/dreams our bodies become fearful and wake us up… Our dreams need to filter into our awaken[ness] to compensate for these fears, a kind of confrontation with these parallel worlds.


Realms of Potentiality (Ukwendlalwa Kwetafula)

Then he said, ‘put your arm deep into the water, and you shall find a cryptogram to your destiny’ afterwards he vanish into the ocean.

In my hand I held a precious stone, it suggested various colors such as blue and very subtle grayish striped patterns around it. The more I held the stone, the more it revealed new visions. In this stone, I also saw a vision of an elderly woman in a walking-stick. She walked the opposite direction to my view, but quite surprisingly came closer and closer as the intensity of my awareness sharpened.

I then saw birds of many kinds, floating above the sea level. One of them whistled the sounds of tomorrow.

Umbono: 26032019

Nduduzo Makhathini

Forgotten Songs

Then a voice came forth from deep underground. It spoke in an unfamiliar tongue, perhaps something preceding human language. Each word resonated from my feet, I began hearing not only through my ears but my entire being. It echoed as though it was immortalizing its own self. I listened deeper, becoming aware of every reflection and space in between.

As I wondered about what was being said, I began to gather meaning, not through an understanding of words, but a kind of sonic memory opened. It felt as though my inner being had just awakened, and I was in contact with deeper avenues of self.

The voice said: ‘All you humans have refused for a long time to come back home.’ Then kept quiet. I stood still, and after sometime it asked: ‘Do you believe in the spirit of freedom?’ Before I could answer, it said: ‘Go and tell your people that, there is no need to suffer in this world, your forefathers have left the gates wide open.’ Then another pause. ‘Let everyone being sing their way back home.’

Then the voice dissolved back into the ground.


Nduduzo Makhathini

22 March 2019

Iculo Elisha

They say after dancing for several days, the sun began to smile and later their dance was projected in the face of the moon. In a trance-state, they hit the ground intensely but their feet would not feel no pain. The echoes of their voices traveled to dimensions unseen. Their purpose had reached profound synchronicities with the heart of the cosmos.

They remembered the song of the gods.

Indatshana (told by the unseen)

Nduduzo Makhathini