Sangoma: Ancestors sent python that we braaied

2010-09-25 00:00

A PYTHON that found its way into a sangoma’s house turned out to be a huge feast for local community members who made a braai out of it after killing it.

Thobeka Mchunu, a sangoma from Imbali Unit 18, discovered the four-metre-long python, known as Inhlwathi in isiZulu, in her consulting room on Wednesday afternoon. She called it a gift from her ancestors, as she is going to use it for muthi.

A snake expert said the reptile was a female of over 15 years old.

Said the sangoma: “I was entering my consulting room to pray when I saw this scary thing lying across. I screamed for help.”

Three young men beat the snake, which was sluggish from having eaten a chicken.

“When it was not fighting back I realised that it was a gift from my ancestors, and stopped them from hitting it. I placed a burning impepho (incense) closer to its nostrils while praying. It then slowly died,” she said.

News of the python in Mchunu’s house spread all over the area, and curious local residents gathered in their numbers to take a look at it themselves.

“I’m going to use its bile, skin, bones and fat to make healing muthi. Bile helps in treating swollen feet,” she said.

She enjoyed its meat with her neighbours. She had told them that eating it would protect them from evil spirits and from being attacked by snakes.

“It tastes like chicken,” she said.

On Wednesday night she slaughtered two chickens for her ancestors. She said she would now slaughter a goat.

“In February and July last year my ancestors sent two pythons. In March and June 2007 they sent me two,” she said.

Mark Enslin, a city snake expert, said the python is listed as an endangered species in the South African Red Data Book.

“Pythons have been known to kill people, but that is very rare as there are not many large individuals left, due to them being killed for their skin and fat, but if bitten by the snake it can cause considerable tissue damage and stitches may be required, as they have strong curved teeth. A bite must be treated as a dirty wound,” he said.

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