When you have things to hide its not nice having people that know you know such secrets. Look I am not saying that
having a calling is embarrassing but in the community and age we live, we are taught that being Christian and doing things the white way is the right way. Let’s see, when we go to a restaurant we are embarrassed to eat with our hands because it’s not the white sorry I mean right way. Even when you eat ribs, I once went out on a date with a guy who tried to eat ribs with a fork and knife. I politely stood up, asked for the bathroom and left after he had sent his rib flying across the room trying to get a grip on it with his fork. Dude it’s a fucken rib, use your hands. I am Zulu so I attend a lot of functions because everyone knows Zulu’s have functions for days and we love slaughtering animals hence why the SPCA is always on our case. When traditional things have to happen you find so called Christian girls stepping away saying they don’t believe in that yet come Heritage Day they can’t hide how proud they are to be Zulu and don’t think that when that slaughter cow is cooked they won’t it either pshhhh. Which part of Zulu are you proud of really? Its either you are in or you out! This is the same thing with a calling, everyone you know in the cities says they are Christian and for this reason it is embarrassing to be seen throwing bones. Mbilahelo’s mum was the last person I wanted to be my Gogo.
“What do you mean she is my Gogo I don’t understand?”
I asked my aunt sitting down trying to get clarity.
“Lungi when I told you how ukuTwasa works did you pay attention at all?”
My aunt asked me sounding very annoyed with me at that point. She had mentioned this before its true but the truth is I could not remember it all.
“Aunty you did explain but I can’t remember everything. Please just explain to me what’s going on so that I can be updated!”
Black kids we are taught that when we have elderly visitors visiting we have to be polite and attentive. This was me right now because I could have argued with her on what right she had to bring this woman to my house when I did not ask for it but I held myself back.
“The child is right. It’s not as simple as it sounds. When we get a calling we have a specific person the ancestors want us to do it through. It’s like a mentor and teacher at the same time. Usually this person is not a relative meaning if you were hoping for you aunty to help you through it unfortunately it does not always work like that!”
She explained. This was the first time she had actually spoken to me properly and I could see Mbilahelo in her but why could not see Azwindini. I don’t blame myself though some kids are so different to the rest they are as good as adopted. He was a shot human being and my view of him will never change.
“Thank you. When they say I have accepted the calling what exactly do I have to have done? Do I just scream out loud that I accept?”
I asked curiously and instead of taking me seriously they both burst out laughing.
“It’s not like that at all but that was funny. Imagine screaming out loud people will think you are losing it!”
My aunt said. I kind of got the joke and I found myself laughing at my own ignorance. It was clear a silly question to have asked.
“There are steps that you take to accept the calling and I have even heard of people failing after accepting the calling. It’s not guaranteed that you end up passing it!”
She explained. I could not help but wonder how dumb one had to be to actually fail at a calling. It’s not like it was six years in medical school.
“How long is the training?”
I asked her.
“Three months. You will have to drop everything for three months!”
She explained and I think by the way my eyes widened she could tell that this idea did not appeal to me at all.
“What is there a problem?”
She asked me.
“Yes I am afraid there is. I have things to do. I can’t take off work for three months even if I wanted to!”
I lied. I was not working of course but my apartment did not pay for itself. I needed to earn to be able to keep it.
“Well you will have to make a plan. Lungi this is not a joke and before you do this you have to be sure of it!”
She warned me.
“How do I refuse this calling with getting sick or dying from it?”
I asked her I think the most important question why I wanted her here. I wanted a way out.
“That’s a hard one. There are steps you can take to refuse a calling”
“Is church one of them?”
I asked her. She chuckled,
“I know many tell each other that church is the only way to refuse a calling but it’s not the truth. Church is finding a new home but it has nothing to do with us. This is how people see us as evil and witches because they lie to each other by saying church saved them from a calling. It’s not true.”
She explained. If only my mother was here to hear this with her own ears. She will probably have said it was blasphemy shem because she like a lot of people believe that church was the cure for this.
“So how do I do it?”
“Lungi I don’t think you aunt here has explained to you how serious this is. There are different kinds of callings and you have what most consider being the most serious one…”
Now she was just trying to scare me,
“The Water calling a lot of people don’t understand it. According yo your aunt you have been dreaming about water a lot and dreaming of water means the water is calling you. If you don’t accept this calling just know that you have to stay away from large bodies of water because you can disappear. Remember Gogo Mabuza?”
She said turning to my aunt,
“Yes I do. Her story is that she went under water and was missing for over 6 months. When she came back she said she had gone to twasa and is a powerful Sangoma to this day!”
I am not going to claim ignorance because I have heard stories of people disappearing in this manner before. It’s what you call urban legends.
“I can’t afford to disappear for weeks or months!”
I told them defiantly. They looked at each other and just shook their heads. I clearly was not listening or rather hearing them.
“I don’t think I want this calling. What can I do to get out of it?”
I told them. That part of disappearing had really scared me.
“You can join the church!”
My aunt said.
“I thought you said church does not really help!”
I asked confused.
“I did not say that. Most of the prophets you find in churches like ZCC and the like are people who had callings which they refused but rather chose to serve them in the church!”
She explained of which Mbilahelo’s mother added,
“A calling is not a bad thing Lungi. It means that you being tasked with helping people. I know they tell you many things about our profession because it is a profession to some of us!”
She explained to me. I felt guilty for this because I was one of the people so westernized anything to do with black tradition I considered unholy or witchcraft.
“I here you but what’s the way out again?”
I asked her.
“You can refuse the calling by passing it on to your child! That’s what your mother did and that’s why one of you had to get the calling!”
My aunt explained. My mother had taken the easy way out and it made sense now. It was her fault I was going through this and if she was here I would have told her as much.
“So I can pass it on to my child?”
I asked her immediately clutching tummy.
“Yes you can but it’s not entirely a good thing. Your child has a high chance of being sickly and unhealthy until they too accept the calling!”
My aunt immediately explained to me,
“But I was not sickly?”
I asked her I think again appearing defiant but I was not.
“Yes you were not but your child will be third generation and because you and your mother both refused I can almost guarantee that he will be sickly!”
She explained. This was all scary stuff and what she was saying I took to heart.
“Lungi what is your greatest fear about becoming a sangoma?”
Mbilahelo’s mother asked me again.
That was my response.
“Its fine I was like you too at the beginning. I think for one day you have had enough of us. We will come back again in two days ok to see what you have decided!”
She said standing up immediately. It’s like my aunt had escorted her not the other way round.
“You can’t leave just yet I did not even offer you anything to eat!”
I protested and indeed I had not.
“Its what you should have led with Lungi your mother raised you better!”
My aunt said as she too got up. I would have had I not been surprised by this visit but she is right I should have offered food first. They left just like that. That had been one awkward visit.
There was a knock on the door and I honestly thought it was my aunt back again but nope it was not, it was my sister.
“You still in your nightie, did you sleep here!”
I asked her.
“Yes! Is it too soon? I haven’t dated in a long time and I understand that nowadays not giving up the cookie is no longer deemed honourable or virtuous!”
She said mischievously. I looked at her and its funny how I almost judged her for that but I quickly realized I was being a hypocrite. I have slept with people in record time. The world has changed.
“He has a child sis, that’s my only concern you two messing her up!”
I warned her. She chuckled and said,
“Don’t worry I have that covered, all children get over things within time and Ntheteng is no different!”
She explained to me.
“That’s where you are wrong but right now I don’t have time to school you on right and wrong because you have all the answers already!”
I said to her dismissively and with a lot of spice too. I even rolled my eyes.
“What’s that’s supposed to me?”
She asked me seeing how I had responded. Before I responded there was another knock on the door. My house really felt like it had no privacy.
My sister was closest to the door so I gestured her to open. She did,
“What are you doing here?”
She said her voice and tone changing immediately. I stood up to see who it was and guess what?
It was her estranged husband.
“I came looking for you at your mother’s house but you were not there. I slept in the car outside waiting for you. I tried calling you but I think you blocked my number!”
“Yeah I did but you did not say what you want?”
She asked him spicily!
“Three days ago I won the lotto and I realized that you are the only person I want to spend my life with. I am so sorry for everything I ever did! I want you back and I will do anything to earn your forgiveness!”
He made his apology.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?”
I asked him angrily.
“How dare you come to my house after what you did to my sister?”
I was pissed but she took the air out of me when she responded to him by saying,
“Wow you won the lotto?”
Her eyes lit up in curiosity and she sounded excited by it!
Michael Nkululeko Maphoto
Greetings Mike, team and the readers. You’ve probably heard this a
gazillion times, but I commend you for the beautiful work you do and I
wish you all the best in all you do.
I am 30 years old. My story has me heavy-hearted but is also intended to
give testimony that not all men are trash. My heart breaks as I can’t
keep him, but he has proven this fact to me. I’ll try and summarize it
as much I can.
Growing up, I was a late bloomer so I only started dating at 19 and soon
fell pregnant and gave birth at 20 (2007). The father and I broke up.
Avoiding the repetition, I stayed single till 2011.
I then met a wonderful man, but his life was cut short as he was shot
and killed 7 months into our relationship. That pained me as to be
In 2013, I dusted myself off and dated yet another wonderful man. He was
unfortunately hijacked, shot and killed while on his way to pick me up
for our weekend getaway. Hhay, lokho ke felt like once too many. I
decided not to date again as I felt I was a bullet awaiting to pierce
through innocent men. I mourned and grieved and had a cleaning ceremony
performed ngoba ngingum’Zulu. So after the second passing, I befriended
this guy friend of mine.
This went on for 2 years, and in January of 2016, he declared his
feelings for me. We had been best friends for these 2 years, and
communicated about everything, so it was easier to take our friendship
to the next level. I was skeptical at first, fearing he too might die.
Because of this, we’d break up for petty things nje, but he’d regather
me and we’d make up. But after us making up for the third time, I
finally eased into it, let go of the fear, and maaaaan, it was so
beautiful a love.
Fast forward to a month ago, he broke up with me.
It is so painful losing not only the person whom I thought God had
brought as reimbursement for all my heartaches, but also a best friend
all in one departure, and I think people underestimate this. Losing a
lover and a friend cuts the deepest.
In his previous relationship, he had been cheated on by the mother of
his second child who’s now 8 years old, so he’s been living with HIV for
3 years. Us being on and off made it hard to disclose, and we weren’t
intimate yet as we’d constantly break up. But he eventually disclosed to
me in July as our relationship was taking shape. I accepted him and
started schooling myself on how we could deal with the virus as I am HIV
His health is on check, viral load undetectable and all. But it became
too overwhelming for him as we were becoming serious. Decent men protect
their women, so he found it hard having to protect me from himself. I
tried to fight the separation, suggested the PrEP and PEP drugs but he
just found it hard taking the risk. He put my health and safety before
I was angry at him for quitting on us. Zikhona izindlela zokungivikela
from contracting the virus manje, it was not like we’d be careless…
But, I am slowly accepting his decision though it hurts. I know we
could’ve managed the virus with the new developments in place, but he
PROTECTED ME. I am still hopeful that he’ll come back, at least as a
friend he once was, but being hopeful hurts more as I am not moving on
from this. Only time will tell as to how I maneuver through life I
guess. I’m just focusing on my daughter, work and studies for now.
Mike, I hope you and the readers come across such selfless partners in
this journey of love someday, if y’all haven’t already. Same goes for my
daughter who’s now 10 years old. And the team of course lol.
Thank you for reading my letter.