A calling to serve

2014-01-10 00:00

THE toughest decision I have ever had to make was to leave the mother of my unborn child, my family and my friends.

For some time, traditional healers had been telling me that I have the calling to become a sangoma/inyanga/diviner. They said it was a gift and failing to accept it would result in my being cursed to a point where I would become a lunatic, a mad person, even to the point of believing I was Jesus Christ himself.

They said bad luck would pour on me like heavy rain. They told me that nothing I set out to do would come to fruition until I answered my ancestral call.

A six-month spell in Town Hill Psychiatric Hospital nearly 10 years ago was the worst nightmare I have had to go through, or so I thought. Little did I know that this was just the beginning of my long walk into the life of being a sangoma.

Worse followed. Work became more difficult and even the rewards dwindled. When pay day comes, I’m not taking any money home because I am in so much debt. What was I to do in such a situation? I consulted sangomas again and again; it was as if they were talking to each other as I got the same response from each one: “There is nothing wrong with you,” they would say. “You just need to answer your ancestral call and then everything will be fine.”

My challenge was that I had not even dreamt of being a sangoma, not in my wildest dreams, so why should I contemplate embarking on such a spiritual journey?

Eventually, late last November, I decided to test my fate and answer the calling. After all, I thought, I have nothing to lose.

Before taking leave from work, I spent Christmas on the Bluff in Durban, where I’m being trained by iSanuse (another form of traditional healer) Baba Ngcamu, who has taken me in and treats me like his own child and is helping me discover who I am.

My New Year’s celebration was spent on the Bluff and this meant no partying, although we were allowed to welcome in 2014. This is a world where dreams do come true, unlike before, when I could not even dream or remember what my dreams were about.

The daily routine involves waking up at 3 am to do the rituals and prayers to help me connect with my ancestors.

This process involves being celibate and observing a special diet that prohibits certain types of food, including pork, mutton and eggs, to mention just a few.

Baba Ngcamu is merely a guardian during the process of ukuthwasa (training to be a sangoma), while my ancestors communicate with me as an ithwasa (trainee sangoma).

My ancestor Hhom’hhoyi Ngqulunga was a Zulu warrior who died during the battle of Isandlwana, fought between the English and the Zulus in 1879, and now he’s come back to claim his space in pursuit of the work he did as a traditional healer.

I have come to realise that all I am is an empty shell, which was made for his purpose, and the sooner I accept my fate, the better things will be for me and my family. It is not an easy journey because I need to develop a pure heart so that God and my ancestors can take over this shell to use it to heal people.

The funny thing is that while growing up as a child, I always wanted to become a doctor, but when I ended up doing badly in my matric year, I decided to study journalism.

However, I have been called to become a traditional doctor and at this point I don’t know what will become of my career as a journalist, because I am at the mercy of my ancestors.

This means abandoning and completely forgetting the life you thought you were born to live, to follow orders from those who decided your fate at the very moment of your birth.

But I must say that it has been an enlightening experience and I pray for strength to continue on this journey with all my heart and soul.

And to be able to reunite with my family and to welcome my baby, who will be born in April.

At least now my life has a meaning, and now when I preach the word of God people will know that it was always the path I was born to follow.

I hope 2014 brings positive change to all The Witness staff and our readers.

Thobani Ngqulunga is a reporter at The Witness.

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