Irina Mthembu is an old citizen at iNanda, who was born and raised at Piet Retief, Mpumalanga. She did not have that fortune of staying with her father at her younger age. Born around the 1930s to 40s, she lived at her mother’s home with her mother. Simelane was her mother’s surname. His father was working away from where they resided. Her father passed away and they had to move to Durban with her mother. In Durban, iNanda, that is where her mother got a site from Shembe whom she strongly believed in. Irina attended lower grades at primary school and she recalled that her educators were Miss Gumede and Miss Nene. She has been living at iNanda for many years. Politically and socially, she says that the standard of living was good. Peace and sharing were the good philosophies characterising the people of iNanda during apartheid periods. The reason behind is that John Dube was appointed as a person responsible for governing the place. He was a Christian that was against violence. Supporting him were people like Mahatma Gandhi and others who fought for peace in their area. The only problem that Irina stressed about John Dube is that he was against their Shembe belief. Notwithstanding this critic, she says that all citizens of iNanda were happy with Dube’s leadership.
Having asked her about what it means to her to be the citizen of iNanda brought an interesting story. Irina says that she strongly believes in Shembe, so living at iNanda means living with God next to her because that is where the religion on Shembe is. ‘Leaving iNanda will mean distancing me from God and Shembe’, Irina says. Additionally, she also mentioned the fact that iNanda is where her ancestors rest and she will rest with them when she dies. As a black person, she believes that dead people are not really dead but watching them spiritually and also that Shembe is the way to communicating with God as does Jesus to Christians. In terms of marriage, Irina got married to Mdunge, a man from Dlangezwa, North Coast. With Mdunge, they got four sons. Additionally, as an old person she says that going to church is her favourite thing that she fully enjoys. She also said there is nothing that keeps her happy more than seeing her children and grandchildren following at her footsteps of worshiping Shembe. Lastly, Irina mentioned that she will be happy if her body rests next to her ancestors at iNanda because that will make her soul rest in peace.
Interview and summary by Phumlani Mfekayi, 24 October 2014
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