Thokoza Sangomas. Transmission and Embodiment of History in the Thokoza Sangoma Tradition.

Earthmedicine - Africa Mystic

Thokoza! Today I would like to share again an article I found about the lineage I was initiated into. It is not my own. You can see the full article here.

http://www.archivalplatform.org/blog/entry/transmission_and_embodiment/

Introduction

The thokoza sangoma tradition has its origins among the Swazi- and Shangaan-speaking peoples of southern Africa. The thokoza tradition differs from other sangoma traditions in South Africa in that its adherents are possessed by non-lineage or “foreign” spirits, in addition to family ancestors. These spirits are referred to as Nguni and Ndau.

According to my informants, the Nguni (Ndwandwe people [Harries 1994 and Wright 2010]) spirits are the spirits of dead Nguni warriors who invaded Mozambique under Soshangane in the 19th century, as well as the spirits of Swazi and Zulu warriors who died in similar conflicts. On the other hand, the Ndau are a people living in western Mozambique near the border of Zimbabwe, many…

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Video: Izibongo zeSilo uShaka kaSenzangakhona {King Shaka’s praise poem}

https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=5AXOpIsTGhU

UDlungwana KaNdaba!

UDlungwana woMbelebele,

Odlung’ emanxulumeni, Kwaze kwas’ amanxulum esibikelana.

UNodumehlezi kaMenzi,

UShaka akashayeki kanjengamanzi,

Ilemb’ eleq’ aamnye amalembe ngokukhalipha;

UShaka ngiyesaba ukuthi nguShaka, UShaka kuyinkosi yasemaShobeni.

UNomakhwelo ingonyama; UMahlome’ hlathini onjengohlanya;

Uhlany’ olusemehlwen’ amadonda.

UDabaz’ ithafa ebeliya kuMfene;

UGaqa libomvu nasekuphatheni.

UBholokoqa bazalukanisile Zalikaniswe uNoju noNgqengenye;

EyakwaNtombazi neyakwaNandi;

Yayikhiph’ eshaba libomvu,

Ikhishwa elimhlophe lakwaNandi.

Bambiz’ eMthandeni beyisela, Bathi ‘Singesinelane neNtungwa lasenhla’, Kanti uzawudl’ uPhakathwayo empindelweni.

UDlungwana wavuma na?

Umvumeleni uGodolozi, Ethi ngowanganeno kwaNandi, Kant’ ukude kwaNtombazana ?

Kalokhu liphahl’ eliseMthandeni.

Amazwi mabili engiwabongayo, Ngibong’ elikaMpandaba nelikaNdungenkomo,

Bethi ‘Ucu aluhlangan’ entabeni’; Akenibuze kwabaseZinkondeni,

Bath uHilwayo bayakumhlaba kwaHlokohloko,

Kwaf’ amasi kwaf’ uqephe.

UTeku lwabafazi bakwaMgabhi, Betekula behlez’ emlovini,

Beth’ uShaka kakubusa kakuba nkosi, Kanti unyakan’ uShaka ezakunethezeka.

Inkom’ ekhal’ eMthonjaneni, Izizwe zonke ziyizwil’ ukulila,

Iziwe uDunjwa waseluYengweni, Yezwiwa uMangcengeza wakwaKhali.

UMlilo wothathe kaMjokwane; UMlilo wothathe ubuhanguhangu, Oshis’ izikhova eziseDlebe, Kwaya kwasha neziseMabendlana…

 

 

 

 

How does virginity testing, the annual Royal Reed Dance benefit our girls…why do we continue to raise our boys differently?

How does virginity testing, the annual Royal Reed Dance benefit our girls…why do we raise our boys differently? 

By Soka Mthembu

Other than the King Shaka memorial and the Isandlwana battle re-enactment, there are two cultural events that I always look forward to each year; one being the Royal Zulu Reed Dance, a centuries-old event taking place at King Goodwill Zwelithini Enyokeni Royal Palace in September, early spring. It’s a spectacle of an event in which thousands of virgin girls come out together wearing only colourful beads, and in some cases short skirts, known as izidiya. They sing and dance to celebrate, each girl carrying a cut reed which is presented to His Majesty, King Goodwill.

My favourite event, however, is the brain child of Dr Nomcebo Mthembu. This is known as the Indoni Carnival, and takes place in Durban around October of every year. The main aim of the Indoni Carnival is to bring young people of various indigenous cultures from around South Africa to teach them about social ills, and the importance of upholding traditional African values. The parade takes place along the streets of Durban. Over 8000 spectators line the streets during the parade during which many different South African tribes showcase their costumes and dances: Zulu, Ndebele, Xhosa, Pedi, Swati, Venda, Batswana, Khoisan, Mpondo, Tsonga, and Abathembu. Indoni has become my favourite event for the simple reason that it’s not just about one tribe. Moreover, Indoni includes boys who go through some intense training in winter camps on what it means to be real men. (I’m using the word tribes cautiously, for some prefer to be described as nations). However, that’s a debate for another day, because as far as I know (or have been brainwashed), the description of nation would refer to the inhabitants of the entire country.

Now this brings me to something that really riles me as a father of three girls, although I also have boys. As much as there are efforts to rope in boys into these events, there remains the fact that many such events are aimed at girls: how they should conduct themselves, how to remain pure and virgins for as long as possible…till they finish school, and how they should only engage in sex after marriage. And the biggest drivers for these initiatives are women. These become important days for men to lust over young women; and for tourists who take delight in taking photographs and recording videos of something they have never experienced before. These videos and images are copyrighted and sold for profit, while the girls receive nothing. This does not benefit the youngsters at all.

Something else irks me: besides telling these girls not to engage in sex to avoid HIV, STIs, teen pregnancy, what else are we offering to these girls, when they will end up with boys who have no clue how to treat, respect, and value them?

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie once said something very profound in her TED TALK titled ‘We should all be feminists’:

“We police #girls, we praise girls for #virginity, but we don’t praise #boys for virginity, and it’s always made me wonder how exactly this is supposed to work out because …I mean, the loss of virginity is usually a process that involves…”

This can only mean one thing: As fathers, we are failing our boys, and even more so, our girls. The question of whether we will show anger when our boys sleep around and impregnate girls demands an answer. It is even more hypocritical that, when hashtags such as #MenAreTrash emerge, we become confused; or when our boys rape elders, or children, or brutally murder girls, we seem to forget that most such behaviour arises in the absence of a good father figure as a role model.

We should stop making boys feel stupid for having not slept with a girl early enough. We, as parents, should be furious with our boys if they impregnate girls whom they are not able or willing to marry; just as we are angered when our girls fall pregnant. If a pregnant girl is taken out of school, which shouldn’t happen, we should also take the boy out of school, because he’s just as guilty, if not more so.

Women have been doing all they can, and they make every effort to raise their girls really well – some even lock them up so they don’t go out! I’ve yet to hear of fathers doing the same to their boys.

We become excited when our boys as young as three years old show an interest in girls; however, God forbid that girls of a young age should show a similar liking for the opposite sex!

Everything has changed – the way we speak, the way we dress, the cars we drive – even the food we eat. One thing, however, never changes, and that is patriarchy, which is faithfully perpetuated, especially amongst Africans.

 

Asimbonanga uMandela, but we saw Johnny Clegg

Knowing that your chances of ever meeting the Great Nelson Mandela are gone forever can be quite devastating, especially when you see people, way younger than you are, posting images holding his hand or posing alongside him. Then you suddenly beat yourself up for not having tried harder to meet him. So, from myself and many other South Africans: ‘Asimbonanga’ uMandela, but we saw Johnny Clegg. And that for me is enough.

By Soka Mthembu

Earlier this year I was devastated to read in the papers that one of Africa’s greatest icons, Johnny Clegg, had been living with cancer, and that he was doing his final World Tour starting in Cape Town on 30th June. Upon hearing the news, I immediately contacted my mentor, Barry Leitch, a close friend of Johnny “Skeyi” Clegg, who confirmed that Johnny was indeed conducting his last world tour. From that moment, I made the decision to see him in action on the Durban leg of his tour. Little did I know, however, that my stay here in South East Asia – Vietnam to be precise, where I’m currently performing with my dance troupe ‘Beyond Zulu’, would be extended by another 6 months. That was the nail in the coffin for me.

Okay, let me tell you how I met Johnny Clegg, and why I’m inspired by him: When I was 14 years old in Zululand – in fact I was 14 years everywhere − I met Johnny Clegg, who had come to visit his old friend Barry “Mkhomazi” Leitch.  Barry, just like Johnny, is a white Zulu, whose love for Zulu people and their culture is inspiring. Coincidentally, Barry is also an anthropologist by profession, just like Mr Clegg.

It was during the time that I was a Zulu dancer at the beautiful and unique Simunye Zulu Lodge, a secluded lodge that was built on a cliff face, and attached to a cultural Zulu village (don’t Google it or attempt to go there…let’s just say it was one of the government’s Land Redistribution deals that fell into the wrong hands, and therefore was completely ruined).

Back to my story: It was a dark night in Zululand with stars winking at us, and the trees above us dimming them in jealousy. Had it not been for the yellow flames coming from the home-made hessian and paraffin lamps scattered around the Zulu dancing area, it would have been even darker. The Mfule River behind us created a soothing sound, and the frogs, without fail, added their voice to the drumbeat. Nduna Luthuli was a lead singer and dancer (igoso) on that day − one of the ablest and most creative dancers I have ever met. We took our turns after an Umzansi dance routine. Before we knew it, Johnny had risen unexpectedly like a Colossus in front of us. In a fraction of a second he was on the other side of the fireplace, dancing as he would have done for an audience of thousands of people, ignoring our off-beat drumbeat, the-not-so-professional singing, and the small crowd. Our jaws dropped, as did the tourists’, as we watched with great admiration and envy, forgetting to clap (which forms part of Zulu dancing). This mlungu had put all of us to shame in front of internationals and our fans from the nearby Njomelwane community, but we loved him for it: for his great and inspiring performance, his humility, and for being kind enough to give us pointers in respect of the Umzansi Dance. It was a treat for us − for me − for tourists − a place where no one famous, especially not Johnny Clegg, should have dared go. I would later learn that Johnny did the same in hostels, places that I, as a Zulu, am afraid of going to: they are so often associated with conflicts and violence.  I often wonder how he manages to dance and find peace in such places?

How tragic that someone who has played such a meaningful role in society, and is such a fearless man, should be assaulted by cancer. But Johnny can overcome.

Together with countless others the world over, I wish Johnny Clegg good health and many more years. And as ever go f**k yourself cancer!

HAS UMABO REPLACED THE TRADITIONAL ZULU WEDDING AND ALL THE RITUALS THAT GO WITH IT?

HAS UMABO REPLACED THE TRADITIONAL ZULU WEDDING AND ALL THE RITUALS THAT GO WITH IT?

By Soka Mthembu

There’s a common trend by Africans, Zulu people, to be specific in this case, to conduct a traditional Zulu wedding as an afterthought – perhaps something to ease our conscience, as we have fully adopted the Western ways and abandoned our own. Or could it just be an honest, light-hearted celebration, without having to go deeper into unknown terrain? Hardcore, traditional wedding rituals, for instance, may be perceived as threatening, especially for the younger generation. Whatever the reason, it is rather alarming that, in a few years to come, many features and aspects that make a traditional wedding the sacred ceremony that it is, would have been totally eroded.

I should be the first to acknowledge that there is a transformation and some new ways of  uniting two people in marriage. If, however, that transformation and “civilization” makes us forget, even look down on our own traditions, we need to reflect on and question our identity.

Allow me to rant a bit: The new trend of events is that a couple holds a glamorous umabo (bringing of gifts to the groom’s family); and on a different date hold a white wedding – both of which cost exorbitant amounts of money. Umabo then becomes the substitute for a ceremony at which the ancestors would have been appeased, and asked to give their blessings on the event, protecting the newlyweds, ukuthethwa kwedlozi and ukubuzwa komthetho: this has all fallen by the wayside. Family praise poets are now hired acts who recite a few lines of izithakazelo, in some cases Shaka’s praise names. The point is − family doesn’t care or even notice whether the praise singer recites Mandela’s or Zuma’s praises.

It goes further: Expensive marquees have replaced isigcawu (an open field where the climax of the wedding ceremony takes place) accompanied by a sound system, caterers, and wedding coordinators hired to manage this spectacle. Then there’s a display of fancy contemporary costumes, expensive drinks dispensed from those expensive liquor cold rooms that we spend fortunes on hiring. Everything is hired, including some traditional Zulu dancers – something which should come naturally to us Zulus, and should be performed by family and neighbours. As the drumbeat draws one back to one’s roots, unknown to many, one has a sense that the spectators are thinking to themselves, “Where do these people (dancers) come from – the rocks?”

The role of elder women to the bride-to-be has become redundant. The bride’s guidance by the elder women has been outsourced to bride’s friends, who in most cases are young, and unmarried, and therefore not equipped to impart the marriage-life experiences and wisdom to the bride-to-be. And when the marriage does not turn out to be what was hoped for or expected (perhaps even before a year has passed; perhaps soon after), some of the bride’s friends become the first to urge “Shiya phansi mngani” – “friend, you have to walk away from this marriage”. Whereas the immediate reaction of an elder is to say: this marriage is not only about you and your husband  – wendele emndenini – “let us attempt to help the two of you resolve matters, because you married the entire family.” Friends cannot play this mediating role and shouldn’t be expected to.

The same applies to a man: The elders would usually sit him down and they are usually the first ones to say “ngeke ulande ingane yabantu le uzodlala ngayo la, lomfazi wathelwa ngenyongo layikhaya,” (you will not dare ill-treat this child (bride); you are the one who brought her here, and besides, she’s not only your wife.) They are quick to remind the bride-groom that, as much as she is his wife, she’s also the wife of the ancestors, and therefore enjoys the same protection and love.

Whilst some of these changes are exciting, reflect the times we live in, I believe that there are certain rituals that must still be performed even at the most glamorous of weddings: certainly there are specific duties which should never be outsourced. I have great respect for cultural entertainers − after all, I am one of them. However, I do not believe that a fellow Zulu must spend money hiring dancers, something community girls and boys should be able to do with relative ease or at least with a bit of coaching and training. And in planning this union we should never ever leave the elders out of the planning process – if anything, they should be in charge of planning.

NOW THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO WANT TO DO THINGS RIGHT BY THE ANCESTORS IN INVOLVING THEM IN THEIR MARRIAGE. HOWEVER, THEY MAY NOT KNOW WHERE TO START, BECAUSE OF THEIR UPBRINGING, RELIGION, OR FAMILY DYSFUNCTION, INTER ALIA. HERE IS MY ATTEMPT AT ASSISTING YOU TO FIND SOME LIGHT:

Go to an Isangoma (diviner) or Umthandazi (prophet) and find out about your life, or about that ancestor who has been your shining light all along. That is the person you should look to appease, not your hundred ancestors, some of whom may have been turned against you by witchcraft, performed by close relatives, in most cases.

In most cases those that look after us are from our mothers’ side, yet we tend to forget about these. Some problems could arise if by mistake you may be appeasing the wrong ancestors – take R100 or less and find out – even seek 2nd or 3rd opinions before you make that decision – just as you would do with a medical doctor. Avoid people that want to charge you thousands. For me, personally, it doesn’t make sense to keep slaughtering for the people who may have turned their back on you. When you burn impepho, ask that one person who is looking after you, appease him or her, and leave it up to that one person to decide with whom to share “the meat or umqombothi”. – He or she knows, but this is not reciprocated.

NB: Acknowledging and pleasing your ancestors does not always have to cost a cow or a goat – sometimes diviner or prophet would suggest that you make  “itiye” which is basically “biscuits, fruit, cold drinks, sweets, burning of impepho by your father on your behalf to thank and appreciate the ancestor/s for having your back against adversities. As a token of appreciation, you have brought him or her itiye to be shared with whomever is selected. For these things to be properly done, you do need a guidance of a sangoma or prophet, and there’s no shame in consulting a sangoma or a prophet, just as there’s no shame in seeking marriage counselling. Ancestors are the foundation of everything we do: let us involve them.

For me, these are some of the non-negotiables:

  1. Ukubikwa komsebenzi ngembuzi esayidini likamakoti. I believe that a bride must at least take a week off work, and have her father or uncle slaughter a goat. The male relative should inform ancestors of the bride’s upcoming wedding – at which time they should protect her and keep her strong. Umgonqo is important, because it gives the bride time to reflect. She should spend at least a week with elders who impart wisdom to her on how to carry herself as new bride, how to face challenges and shortfalls, amongst other valuable advice.
  2. Ukushiswa kwempepho at different stages, including when the bride leaves her home for the last time. It is always very important that the bride depart from the emakhaya la kulele khona okhokho bakhe (rural homestead where the ancestors lie buried), because then there’s usually a kraal to which her father or uncle leads her by the hand, before departing at dawn.
  3. Imvunulo (traditional costume) must be proper. I feel that the bride and groom should aim to buy instead of hiring, because of the sentimental value. Brides and grooms need to put more effort into the traditional attire for the wedding than we are currently seeing.
  4. During the ceremony – a bride should be able at least to sing her “inkondlo”, or perhaps start it before having someone take it over if she is not musically gifted. A bride may compose her own “inkondlo”; however, there are old ballads, such “Baba Nomama”, siya kwamama ongemama, wemathambo kababa, and many others – you just have to ask – even look on YouTube.

Your happiness is important, but that of ancestors is also greatly to be regarded. The rewards it brings to you and your family are unimaginable. Lets go back to our roots. Azibuye emasisweni.

 

 

 

 

Amagama esiZulu (amqondo fana) anencazelo efanayo

Nina beLembe eleqa amanye amalembe ngokukhalipha!

Sekwaba yinsakavulela umchilo wesidwaba ukuthi abantu abampisholo ubezwe bevitiza ngesilungu noma kuhlangene amaZulu wodwa. Ngikhuluma nje kweminye imizi ulimu lukaMageba selwafana nomzondo, kuthi noma abazukulu bevakashele oninakhulu kuhambe isilungu phambili wena owabona umchamo wasekuseni, zivele ziyime emthumeni ke kwintombi endala kube sengathi icala ukuthi ayisazi isilungu. Okungimangazayo ukuthi nalaba engangifunda nabo le emakhaya kwelakithi elingafelwa nkonyane namhlanje abasakwazi ngisho nokubhala amanye amagama esiZulu ngoba bekubona kuyichilo ukuba wumZulu ophelele nozigqajayo. Kanti ukube ngangingemZulu ngangiyoba yini?


Nina bakaNogwaza Eguqile Okwethole LikaNdaba!

Nina BakaHlamvana Bhul’umlilo Endulinde!

Nina BakaLanga Lisehlule Sesingamavikithi

Nina BeNkayishana KaMenzi Eyaphuz’umlaza Ngameva

Nina BakaBhejane Phum’esiqiwini

Ake sikusukumele ukuqhakambisa ulimu lwethu ngoba uma sizithela ngabandayo amanye amagama anothisa lolulimu ayogcina eshabalele. Lolulimu salunikwa okhokho, olubalwa kubo uNodumehlezi kaMenzi owaba neqhaza nokuqamba amagama alinganiselwa ezinkulungwaneni ezilushumi nesishiyagalolunye (19000), washoda nje ngamagama alinganiswa ezinkulungwaneni ezimbili (2000) ukuze inani lawakhe lilingane nalawo aqanjwa umbhali uWilliam Shakespeare kwamahlophe abelungu.

Namhlanje ake sibheke amagama amqondo fanana, noma achaza into eyodwa. Amanye alamagama asabaluleke  kakhulu kwaZulu ngenxa yokuthi ayeyindlela yokuhlonipha.

isibonelo: uma igama likababezala kamakoti kuwuManzi, wayengeke alisebenzise kodwa uma ekhuluma ngamanzi wayezothi amandambi noma amacubane.

Angingabe ngisaphlisa maseko, angihlale amagqozo kulawa engiwakhumbulayo ngezansi;


  1. Indlela / Inyathuko = path
  2. Gibela / Khwela = to hop on
  3. Umiyane / umndozolwane = mosquito
  4. Uvalo / ingebhe / itwetwe / ukungenwa amanzi emadolweni = fear
  5. Umangobe / ikati = cat
  6. Inja / Ingcanga = dog
  7. Inkukhu / impandane / isiphandamazala = chicken
  8. Unyoko / umama waloyo okukhuluma naye / mother of the person you are talking to
  9. Unina / umama wakhe = his/her mother
  10. Impakama / ilanga / intshida = sun
  11. Ukukhophoza / ukubheka phansi ngokushaywa amahloni = to stir on the ground shyly
  12. Amabhodwe / izimbiza / amakhanzi = pots
  13. Umhluzi / isobho = gravy / soup
  14. Ingonyuluka / iqiniso elimsulwa = honest truth
  15. Isihluthulelo / isikhiye = key / lock
  16. Iseqamgwaqo / unondindwa / umuntu wesifazane ongaziphethe kahle = a promiscuous woman
  17. Isipatsha / isipawupete / intombi enhle kakhulu = a beautiful young woman
  18. Umalokazana / umakoti = dauther-in-law
  19. Ingodosi (ingoduso) / umuntu wesifazane oselotsholwe / wife-to-be / fiancée
  20. Indle / itshe lentaba = a polite word for “shit”
  21. Umbungu = featus
  22. Inani / intengo = price
  23. Ikhala / impumulo = nose
  24. Amehlo / amaqaphelo = eyes
  25. Imali / inkece / uphacane = money
  26. Amafutha / amathambiso / amagcobo = oil
  27. Amaqanda / amachoboka = eggs
  28. Umfana / umkhapheyana = boy
  29. Utshwala / amanzi amponjwana = alcohol
  30. igwala / ivaka = coward
  31. Umthondo / ipipi / iphobane = penis
  32. Ukuzigqaja / ukuziqhenya = to be proud
  33. Ugqozi / ufuqufuku / ilukuluku / umqhanagu = enthusiasm  / oomph / having great energy
  34. Ikhehla / ixhegu = a very old man
  35. Iziqabeko = sanitary pads
  36. Indoda / injeza = man
  37. Inkinga / ingwadla = problem
  38. Indlu / inkathelo = house
  39. Phuza / natha = drink
  40. Isinkwa / isiphoco = bread
  41. Ukweshela / ukuqomisa / ukukhuzela (shouting of love vocatives) = to woo a girl/woman
  42. inyama / incoso = meat

Ngiyethemba nawe unawo awakho ongasicobelela ngawo kumaComments;

Nime njalo! Nina Besilo!

Soka Mthembu

FURIOUS LOVE: The mysterious romantic life of Shaka kaSenzangakhona and Mbuzikazi Cele

It was the new dawn as the day opened in its truest form in KwaBulawayo, King Shaka’s Great Umuzi. The roosters uttered their last raucous crow, jumping from the trees to get on with the business of the day, whatever that might be. Attempting to set the sky on fire, the sun was scorching hot that morning, seeming to say, “I told you I would rise again.” Birds were chirping, but the Zulu maidens were not to be outdone. They sang beautifully that very morning, on their way to fetch water from the river. Mbuzikazi led the singing, as expected, for her voice was silky and clear, as though she had umtshingo (flute) between her teeth.
Standing adjacent to the cattle kraal with Mbopha, Shaka remarked, “Lihle izwe lobabamkhulu, Mbopha kaSithayi!” (Oh! how stunning is the land of our ancestors, Mbopha  ̶  son of Sithayi.)

(Mbompha was Shaka’s Chief Advisor.)

Bayede! Are you talking about the cattle, valleys, the mountains, and the rivers?” Mbopha enquired, rather curiously.

“Cha Mbopha, ngisho lendoni yamanzi kaCele, mfoka KaSithayi” (No, I’m only talking about Cele’s entrancing daughter … she is as beautifully dark-skinned as the water berries.)
Mbuzikazi was stunningly beautiful; the kind of beauty that would have easily launched her modelling career had times been different. Her skin was flawless. Her matchless smile was as wide as dreams. Her lustrous lips were beautifully shaped, as though about to break into a song. Her teeth were milk white as the snow on the Drakensberg and equally alluring. Mbuzikazi had a stomach as flat as a soccer field, a ‘killer’ body that young men could only look at and admire, for marriage and sexual engagement were privileges reserved for much older men. On the whole, Mbuzikazi was captivating beyond any style or combination of beadwork.

The day went by, and, as the Zulu saying goes, “Ayilali ikhonjiwe” (No beast shall see the sun rise, once destined for slaughter.”) Little did Mbopha know that the King was to pursue Mbuzikazi that very evening.

Abayilethe impi abafokazane sibahlasele,” (Let the commoners bring war to us so we can finish them off) said Shaka.

Bayede, besaba wena Lembe eleqa amanye amalembe ngokukhalipha,” (They are afraid of you, Great One) Mbopha replied.

Shaka continued, “Uma kunjalo ke MfokaSithayi kuzomele sichithe isizungu ngokweq’iziko.” (In that case, we shall find something to pass the time…like indulging in sexual pleasures.)

He had barely uttered those words when Mbopha smiled, as if to say, ‘I didn’t know you were into such delicacies, Your Highness!’

“What could possibly stop Your Highness when you have such beautiful ‘flowers’ waiting to pleasure your desires?” enquired Mbopha.

This time Shaka had his eyes fixed upon Mbuzikazi, who was playing umagenda – a stone-throwing game  ̶  with other Buthelezi maidens outside his Great Hut.

“Buka isinqe sakhe ngathi amabedlane izintaba zasoNdini, mfokaSithayi” (Take a look at her buttocks, son of Sithayi; they are as beautifully shaped as the Mabedlane twin-mountains of Ulundi.”)
Lost for words, Mbopha did not bother to nod, for it had never occurred to him that there were similarities between buttocks and mountains.

“If she ends up being married, it would be a great pity to cover such beauty,” joked Shaka. They giggled as they indulged in a pot of umqombothi (sorghum beer) and barbequed liver.

Mbopha saw where this was going and decided to take a ‘pee-break’ in order to tip off Mbuzikazi that the King wished to discuss something with her by sunset.

“Be sure to look like the shiny water-berries that you are,” said Mbopha to Mbuzikazi.

“Who am I for him to know my name, let alone call for me? I’m petrified  ̶  absolutely petrified to be summoned by Ndabezitha, the Great One,” Mbuzikazi cried, in a state of panic which Mbopha would not indulge.

Nonetheless, the hapless maiden bathed rather hurriedly, rubbing animal fat on her body. Gleaming brightly as the water berries, and glowing like a flower in spring, Mbuzikazi walked to the Great Hut, swaying from side to side, seemingly putting on a show for the King, however, this was no show. Mbuzikazi knelt down and crawled, chanting Ndabezitha! Ndabezitha! (Your Highness! Your Highness!) as she approached the Great Hut.

Shaka’s face lit up when he saw the radiant Mbuzikazi. His right hand stretched out in welcome as he extolled her virtues that evening. Compliments flowed from him like mountain streams… after all, he was credited with composing over 19000 Zulu words, augmenting the Zulu vocabulary without a single borrowing. The King was charming; he was different; and this terrified the trembling maiden.

Why was he being so nice? Thoughts lingered in her mind. Finding no trace of anger in his face when their eyes accidentally met, she smiled, perhaps out politeness, or perhaps worse, out of fear.
“Do you have a boyfriend?” came the peremptory enquiry.

“No, Your Highness!”
Needless to say, this was the answer the  King was expecting, for Mbuzikazi, along with the other Buthelezi maidens, were under the careful eye of Nandi, and all maidens would go through regular virginity testing.

King Shaka told Mbuzikazi that she was the most beautiful woman in the kingdom, besides his mother, Nandi, of course. This time he was holding the young girl close, caressing and kissing her. Out of fear she totally surrendered herself. One thing led to another  ̶  Mbuzikazi found herself falling for her King, as he for her. A very awkward moment for both of them, I might add. Days went by, with Mbuzikazi finding herself sneaking in to the Great Hut time and time again. There was no doubt that she was in love, however, there remained guilt and the fear of not knowing what might come next!

It took only three months for Mbuzikazi to feel something moving inside her belly. Terrified by this development she confided in one of the maidens.

Ngizwa sengathi ngizithwele.” (I think I’m pregnant.)

‘’Hayibo, by whom? Beyede the warrior King himself? I knew you were sneaking in and out to him but I did not suspect that it had gone this far,” said Nomagugu.

Awe mah! Are you carrying the restless one’s child?  If he fights like that, imagine how he does ‘other things’?” joked Nomalizwe. Louder and louder they laughed, except for Mbuzikazi. This was terrifying, more than anything. Little did they know that Mbopha’s wife was eavesdropping, and had overheard the entire conversation.

Afraid of being direct, Mbopha’s wife went to the hut, pulled out her Umakhweyana bow, and started playing and singing the same song repeatedly.

Ingane inyakaza esinyeni, ingane.” (The child moves in its mother’s belly.)
Ingane inyakaza esinyeni, ingane.” (The child moves in its mother’s belly.)

Mbopha, anxious and puzzled by her persistence in singing this song, was becoming curious, for he knew her child-bearing age had long passed.
Who’s pregnant?”

“It’s rather who made whom pregnant that I find fascinating, my husband,”
she responded.
Mbopha’s eyes grew ever wider.
“Mbuzikazi, the daughter of Cele, is carrying the child of whom-I’m-afraid-to-even-say-his-name. I heard the girls talking.”

Knowing what the King might do to him had he found out that he also knew, Mbopha kaSithayi wasted no time. He went straight to Shaka to give him the news, in an effort to prove his loyalty.

Racing up and down the Great Hut, Shaka’s face became as dark as the rafters of the beer-brewing hut. He was sweating. His heart hardened, and certainly he was overcome with anger.

“Mbopha, you know what I do to liars? Is this rumour true, son of Sithayi?”

“Have I ever been false to you, Great One? I bring you news. Yingakho bengibiza umazulazayithole.”  (That is why they call me the wanderer who only rests upon getting to the bottom of things.) The King’s childhood, as an heir of Senzangakhona had been bitter  ̶  there was no way that the King wanted an heir. The King was angry. He wanted no similar life for his heir-in-waiting.

“Mbopha, son of Sithayi, I don’t give life – I take lives: that is my duty, which is my mission on this earth. The girl must die. Bring her here tomorrow morning. Mbopha kaSithayi.’’
Mkabayi KaJama (Shaka’s aunt) heard about this development in the Kingdom and tipped off Nandi to help the pregnant Mbuzikazi escape.
Nandi had always wanted a grandchild, and she was excited upon hearing the news. Before Shaka could carry out his plan, Nandi was one step ahead. She single-handedly masterminded Mbuzikazi’s escape to live with Nomcoba  ̶ Shaka’s sister, who was now presiding over Nandi’s old Emkhindini Homestead. A wet-nurse, Nomagwebu, was chosen to look after the child.

When Shaka found out about the escape he was livid; he could not even look his mother in the face. He felt betrayed by his own blood. Eventually, he let his mother decide what to do with the child once born, but there was one condition…he never wanted to see either the child or its mother ever again. A baby boy was born at Emkhindini Kraal who brought much joy to Nandi. The news was spreading like wildfire, so much so that Nandi decided to move both Mbuzikazi, Nomagwebu, and little Shaka to safety; this time to Thembuland, or what is today known as Swaziland. She feared that Shaka’s brother, Dingane, would kill the child, or worse, Shaka himself.

To this day it remains a mystery as to what happened to Mbuzikazi and little Shaka.

By: Soka Mthembu

Photo Credit: Shaka Zulu, the movie

NB: Fiction blended with non-fiction, and a bit of fun:-)

Beyond Zulu Experience: A journey in pictures

Sanibonani, Molweni, Hello, Xin Chao!

Greeetings from Vietnam, this time:-)

Over the past few months I have been traveling in and outside Zululand doing storytelling and just admiring the beauty that is the Zulu Kingdom and its people. But what really got in the way of my blogging is my recent trips, with Zulu dancers, to Morocco in October, Vietnam in December 2015 and again Vietnam in February 2016. It has been a roller-coaster of excitement and I can’t wait to share the stories that I’m currently work on.

On before I forget, we are releasing a full-length music album (Beyond Zulu: Mkabayi kaJama) honoring the heroes and heroines such as Mkabayi kaJama. There are of course many other great songs such as Baba Nomama — a traditional Zulu wedding song (inkondlo) sung by a Zulu bride just before she says “I do” in a true Zulu tradition!

In the meantime enjoy the images from my recent trips in Zululand and outside of South Africa! For more images and videos; visit my company website Beyond Zulu Experience Check out Beyond Zulu YouTube channel

Swing your hips, baby: The theatrics of Zulu Courtship and pick up lines

When a true Zulu warrior bumps into a beautiful woman, something in him awakens – he flourishes his best smile for her, becomes totally weak in the knees – though not too weak to tell her how he feels. His heart beats wildly, furiously. And following the physical effects of the encounter, comes explosive poetry:

Dudlu Ntombi!
[Hey Girl!]

Zala Abantu Ziyebantwini
[“They (girls) reject men, only to choose other men (not animals) … and because I’m a man you might as well save yourself some trouble and choose me”]

Nkosazane Emhlophe Efana Nezihlabathi Zolwandle
[Beautiful you are, as white and pure as the sands of the sea]

Mhlophe lo’dlilanga Wana Sikucoshe
[As bright as though you eat the sun itself … how I wish you’d fall right now so that I may pick you up]

Nkosazana Nami Kangizenzi;
Ngenziwa Luthando Olusha’mangqanqu Kuhle Komlilo Wothathe,
Ngithathwa Umsinga Wothando
Vuma Ngikwazise Ngomzwangedwa,
Ongidla Izibilini Imihla Namalanga
Ngivulele (Enhliziyweni) Ngingene
Ngifisa Ukuba Impukane, ‘ze Ungiphunge,
Sengibunamathe Obakho Ubuso Ngothando.
Ngifisa Ukuba Umoya, ‘ze Ngingene Ezibilini Zakho,
Ungiphefumule Ngize Ngiguqule Inhliziyo Yakho Emnene.

As in any culture, the language evolves, as do the people of that language. This is evidenced by the emergence of new Zulu pick-up lines evolved from those heard over the years:

1. Thambo lami lekhentakhi
2. Sthuthuthu sami sokujika emadilayini
3. Swidi lami lomkhuhlane
4. Umuhle ngathi ugeza ngobisi
5. Ngiyazi awuyena umakhi kodwa ngicela uzokwakha umuzi kababa

And of course my friend Erick had to coin his own courtship line, which cracks me up each time he puts it to use: “Awu kodwa ngangingafi ngani ngempi kaBhambatha?” or “Oh, how I wish I had died during the Bambatha rebellion” (because then I wouldn’t be tortured by your amazing beauty, as I am now). Mind you, that rebellion took place in 1906, 70 years before he was born.

What this creativity demonstrates, I think, is the ability of our people, whether framed as fierce warriors, or violent taxi drivers, notwithstanding, to be romantic lovers.

However, in the midst of such creativity there always has to be a “Ungom’uyayona” or “party pooper” and my cousin fitted that profile perfectly. His courtship lines were not only appalling; they worked so little magic that he would resort to insults when rejected. I remember once when he was trying his luck with a particular young lady, that, upon realizing that she was not interested, he had no option but to let her go, only to shout at her before she was even 50 metres away, exclaiming: “Hey, angiyigqokile i-anda” – or “Hey, by the way I’m not wearing underwear.” As if this would make her suddenly change her mind. I suppose he was trying to pull a Senzangakhona stunt, who, when Nandi played hard-to-get suggested that they partake in “amahlaya endlela” or fun on the roads, otherwise known as ukusome or sex without penetration.

I also knew an old man who was, as they say,” so into” a woman of a similar age as he. Now my assumption is that, not only did she take his breath away, but she made him speechless. What he did was remarkable! Somehow, the old man laid hands on her “skhaftini” or lunch box one day – opening it to tuck a R50 note inside. When the favoured lady opened her lunch box, voila, a surprise was waiting for her. What I could not comprehend was how a R50 note, accompanied by no letter expressing interest by someone named, would help him get “the girl.”

Maidens had their own creative ways of expressing their love acceptance or disapproval. They would even communicate in a more profound manner simply to prove they were just as capable of creativity!

During the courtship at the river, or any place for that matter, a man would often try all sorts of tricks to behave as though the girl had accepted his love proposal, and to prove this to his friends and the girl’s guardian, known as Iqhikiza. The would-be lover had to produce a proof, in the form of her beaded necklace, bracelet, or any wearable item that she possessed, for that matter. This would be the item she had supposedly proffered to him. If she wouldn’t voluntarily give it to him, the thwarted lover might simply wrest it off the hard-to-get maiden.

In instances where she had accepted his love, she would often still make him sweat a bit and confuse him as to where she had placed the “parcel” or beadwork for him to collect. The lines given below, uttered by maidens, became very common:

1. “Gibela esihlahleni uyothi mawufika egatsheni eliphezulu kunawo wonke impahla uyoyithola khona lapho.”
Climb a tree, and upon reaching the furthest branch, “the parcel” will be there waiting for you.

Of course she didn’t meant this literally … if the lover was not sufficiently alert, he would continue wooing his “girlfriend” without realizing that she had accepted him.
Because courtship happened at the river, this often meant that the beads were hidden in the water container the girl was carrying. To lay hands on the treasure, one had to snatch the water container from the maiden’s head. Alternatively, the beads could be hidden in the bundle of fire-wood the girl was carrying, amongst other tantalizing ploys.

2. Impahla oyifunayo ingale kwentaba
“This parcel (beads) you are looking for is on the other side of the mountain.”
Again, this statement was not to be taken literally.
It meant that the beads the lover was searching for are in a place so far away that it might take you a while to locate them – this often meant that the beads were around her waist; mountains could be figuratively referring to her buttocks or you know where:-)

There was also a Zulu love letter, often written by a maiden to her boyfriend. She would fashion him a necklace selecting the colours expressed the message of her choice. Below are some of the common colours used in Zulu love letters, together with their meanings:

White: My love for you is as pure and true as my heart.
Red: I’m bursting with love for you.
Blue: If I were a dove I’d fly the endless skies just to see you.
Black: My heart has turned as black as the rafters in the hut, as I hear you have another maiden.
Green: I am yearning for you day and night. Come back soon, if not, you will find me as thin as the grass that is blown away by the winds.

There was also provision for those who only wished to appreciate the sight of a beautiful a maiden. Their line was/is “Ngishikilele Ntombazane” or “Swing your hips, baby!”
Because she was so proud of her body, she would usually not mind showing it off.

Credits:
Photo: Val Adamson (for Zulu Fire Cultural Village)
Some Courtship lines taken from: M.A.J Blose 1960 Zulu drama; Uqomisa Mina Nje Uqomisa Iliba