Friends & Friction: Turn your back on greed, remember you are abantu

2014-12-03 06:00

Her face contorted and her body twisted in the air. Up and down, up and down. She danced violently, as if she wanted to kick her feet off.

Frothing at the mouth, the sangoma shouted: “Vumani Bo!” (Dare to agree!) The villagers shouted back in unison: “Siyavuma!” (We agree!)

To paraphrase the traditional song: “Dudu and I went to find a sangoma and the sangoma said ‘the nation is sick and a witch is in the house’.”

“Dare to agree!” she challenged them, for she knew that it was easier to be in denial than to accept the unpalatable truth.

“We agree!”

The singing, the clapping and the beating drums all combined to wrestle her soul and shove it into a trance. She fought like a mother resisting slavers, screaming and stamping her feet on the ground until she made big craters in the floor.

Her face still contorting and her body twisting, but with rhythm, for she would be no African without one, she finally conceded and went into the other world, where she connected with her ancestors.

“The ancestors are furious…” she said. “Dare to agree!”

“We agree!”

“They are furious because you drank from the chalice of greed! Dare to agree!”

“We agree!”

“So they set the worst thieves on you! Dare to agree!”

“We agree!”

“Thieves whose pockets have big holes! Dare to agree!”

“We agree!”

“With stomachs as deep as the oceans! Dare to agree!”

“We agree!”

“So they’ll never have enough!”

“We agree!”

“Dare to agree!”

“We agree!”

“And you chose them to be your leaders. Dare to agree!”

“We agree!”

“Because deep down you are also kleptomaniacs, just like them! Dare to agree!”

“We agree!”

“You steal at work! Dare to agree!”

“We agree!”

“You call it repossession! Dare to agree!”

“We agree!”

“And your managers steal from the shareholders! Dare to agree!”

“We agree!”

“And your managers neglect the workers!”

“We agree!”

“And the workers are rude to their customers!”

“We agree!”

“And your policemen take bribes!”

“We agree!”

“Vumani Bo!”

“Siyavuma!”

The drummers picked up the tempo and the clapping caught up with them. It went on for a long time, until she threw herself on the floor, hissing and swishing like a snake. Her voice changed and became deeper, she continued:

“You need leaders who love the people. Dare to agree!”

“We agree!”

“Leaders who are not greedy!”

“We agree!”

“For greed is a form of poverty! A poverty of the soul!”

“We agree!”

“For poverty means you are always in need!”

“We agree!”

“Businessmen who know they are people first!”

“We agree!”

“Businessmen who care about their neighbours!”

“We agree!”

“Managers who care about their workers!”

“We agree!”

“Workers who don’t steal from work!”

“We agree!”

“Teachers who respect their children!”

“We agree!”

“And children who respect their teachers!”

“We agree!”

“For your ancestors told you?…?!”

“We agree!”

“That senior must respect junior!”

“We agree!”

“So junior may respect senior!”

“We agree!”

“Vumani Bo!”

“Siyavuma!”

“Dare to agree!”

“We agree!”

“Your ancestors are furious!”

“We agree!”

“That you are destroying their hard work!”

“We agree!”

“The ancestors say...”

“Speak, Mngoma!”

“Stop bewitching yourselves!”

“We agree!”

“Remember you are abantu batho.”

“We agree.”

“So care for your neighbour.”

“We agree!”

“They say ‘money will come?...?!’”

“Speak, Mngoma!”

“And money will stay?...?!”

“We agree!”

“Only if you love the people more!”

“We agree!”

“For they will love you back!”

“We agree!”

“Dare to agree!”

» Kuzwayo is the founder of Ignitive, an advertising agency

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