Councillors pay homage to new sangoma

2014-10-03 00:00

TRADITION met modernity in the Msunduzi council chamber yesterday when councillors went down on their knees to pay homage to one of their own.

This was an experience that veteran councillor Bill Lambert described as the most amazing start to a council meeting he had ever witnessed. For him, it demonstrated the richness of the country’s cultural diversity.

For weeks IFP executive committee member Ntokozo Bhengu had been absent from meetings because he was training to become a sangoma. He was not in the chamber at the start of yesterday’s meeting, but Lambert said he had seen him at the city hall.

While waiting to see if Bhengu would arrive, Mayor Chris Ndlela remarked that he was no expert, but had heard that a special rite was performed to welcome newly-qualified sangomas. They were given a piece of silver and wished well in practising their calling.

Bhengu arrived and he was welcomed back by his colleagues. He thanked them and said that it hadn’t been an easy decision to become a traditional healer. He was aware that he had the calling since he was 11 years old and had fought it, because it meant a tough life of austerity and discipline. In the end, he could no longer resist the summons of his ancestors. The mayor made good on his earlier remarks. He stood up, fished a coin out of his pocket, walked over and knelt before Bhengu, and gave it to him.

Deputy Mayor Thobani Zuma and councillors Judith Lawrence and Lambert then followed suit.

Bhengu said while it was all done in good humour, as a traditionalist, he deeply appreciated the gesture.

He added that he would continue working as a councillor. Although it was an issue he had tussled over, he was now happy that his ancestors were comfortable with his decision.

The mayor said yesterday’s events practically demonstrated “unity in diversity”.

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