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October 23, 2013

Masisizane Service Centre – Daycare for Pensioners, Mrs Rita Bophela

Masisizane Service Centre is a Daycare for Pensioners (old aged) as well as orphans. First established in the 1955, 58 years ago, situated in the township of Inanda (4). The Centre is among very long-serving centers in and around Durban. With its excellence in the community, Masisizane looks after various Pensioners and orphans from various backgrounds. Its principal motive for such is to give the old aged people self-confident, self-esteem and the feeling of belonging in the community. Here pensioners are given a life-time opportunity of doing what first amuses them, they are taught various skills, and tones of hand work. They try by all means not to use the modern, sophisticated technologies while working or in completing various activities. Thus, they use their hands and brains. Reason being, they, according to Mrs. Bophela, the Founder, encourage activeness in elder people, being able to use their hands without the assistance of technologies they might not have them back at their homes.

To reminisce, Masisizane Service Centre became a vision of Mrs. Bophela way back while she was still working as a Nurse at the McCord Hospital, where she tirelessly worked for 35 year, before retiring. Her vision has always been to change the community that she lives in. So one day on her way to work, as usual, she saw pensioners being seated in the cold, during the harsh weather of June and July (winter), while waiting for their grants. Seeing such havoc, her lifetime vision then arose. Masisizane Service Centre was established to help those poor pensioners to; at least get a shelter to wait in while waiting for their Government grant, instead of helplessly sitting in the cold of the winter’s harsh weather. And she’d provide them with tea to warm them up while waiting for their grants, for at some point, the grant payment would (used to) take place at the premises of Masisizane Service Centre.

The term Masisizane simple means “Let’s help one another/ let’s help each other,” which was the/is the prophecy of Mrs. Bophela. And yes, people do get help here, not only pensioners and orphans, but the entire community of Inanda and beyond. Help is what you see and get in the centre.

The Masisizane Service Centre offers various services to the community. Besides being a daycare for adults, the centre also offers some skills both to pensioners and orphans, and to the community as a whole. Grannies are taught beadwork, they do garden on their own, for themselves, both in the centre and to their homes as well. At Masisizane they also make their own candles, using their hands. The candle making process Mrs. Bophela refers to it as an exercise for grannies. For she says that they chant and dance while making candles, and they really enjoy it. They do pottery, tailor or sewing, participate in sports, getting educated through ABET program. The also host an exhibition day (Display Day) where they showcase with their products where they invite people to come a browse, and buy their products. Here grannies are made to feel brand new or young.

Click here to listen to the clip in isiZulu:

Sihle Makhamisa 6 October 2013




July 10, 2013

Zulu traditional wedding – umabo


The father-in-law is on the left, the bride is on the right and the bridesmaids are behind her, holding grass mats

Umabo can be best described as a Zulu traditional wedding which usually takes place after the white wedding. It may happen that some people only do the white wedding and have umabo many years after being married but it is believed that one is not fully married in accordance to the Zulu culture if they did go through umabo. Some people may be faced with difficulties in their marriages (failure to conceive, may not have good relations with the in-laws) and it may be discovered that the ancestors are not happy as umabo was not done and they don’t recognise their daughter in-law. This is a very important tradition; it may also impact on the children, which is why some people have umabo even after the death of the husband. The children may also need to do umabo for their parents; they are not to have umabo for themselves if their parents did not have umabo.

In the Zulu culture, there are a couple of rituals that are done, before one is fully married and I would say umabo is the final stage. The first step is lobola, it is a process, one is not expected to pay all the lobola in one day, then izibizo (bringing of gifts for the bride’s mother and close family) may follow, umbondo ( the bride brings groceries for the groom’s family) may follow      and then the wedding / umabo. Before the wedding, even if there will only be a white wedding, the bride’s family should slaughter a goat for her and burn insence (impepho); to tell the ancestors that their daughter is going to be a member of another family and after the wedding, the groom’s family should welcome her with a goat. For umabo, the two families slaughter cows (one from each family) and exchange certain parts of the meat.


The father-in-law says the opening words

Umabo always takes place at the groom’s family residence, the bride brings with her, some furniture and gifts for her new family. She is to wear traditional clothes, isidwaba (skirt made from cow skin for married women), isicholo (to cover the head, it is for married women) and she needs to cover her shoulders. The bride is to sit on the grass mat and is not to look at or talk to anyone, as a sign of respect. Her father-in-law is to welcome her, before the ceremony starts, her father should also says a few words, indicating that he does approve. The bride is to sit on the grass mat, her bridesmaids and sisters are to bring the gifts and furniture. She brings a Kist, a bed with pillows and linen and brings grass mats, pillows and blankets for her in-laws (the grooms family sends a list for when the day of umabo comes, the brides knows who to give blankets to). Everybody (on the list provided) are given grass mats, pillows and blankets but the men are given beer pots with imbengo (grass lid for beer pot) on top of that. She also brings brooms.



The bride sits on the grass mat

The names of the people on the list are called out, one by one; they start with the females (the older women and then the groom’s sisters). They then call out the men; they are given blankets, grass mats, pillows and the beer pots. When an individual is called out, they are expected to lie/ lay on the grass mat, a family member from the bride’s side covers them with their blanket and they then get up, sing and do the Zulu dance in appreciation of the gifts. After everyone has done that, the groom goes last. The bride than gets up, takes the bed and puts on the linen, she then goes around and looks for the groom. When she finds him, she must place grass mats for him to walk on, which lead to the bed, which is well prepared for him to lie on.  He first sits on the bed and the bride takes a basin with a towel and soap and acts as if she is washing his feet. She then opens the bed covers, he lies on it and the bridesmaids, the bride’s sisters or other young ladies from the bride’s side (only a few of them) hit him with small sticks, he gets up and runs away. It has not been well explained why that is done.



The stuff the bride brings


Umabo is a very important ritual; it brings together families, in the process the bride is also told what is expected of her, from her family and her in-laws. This tradition is the way that ancestors recognise the bride; it is believed that they bring good luck. It is also a beautiful tradition where people showcase their traditional attire, sing and dance. It brings together different elements of the Zulu culture.

Written by: Ayanda Siphesihle Ngcobo

July 2013



The blankets







June 28, 2013

Inanda Mass Choir – Mzinyathi

Inanda Mass Choir

Inanda Mass Choir

The Inanda Mass Choir practices every weekend at SibongileMhlongo’shomestead  inMzinyathi.

The choir specializes in gospel music, but it has a repertoire of different types of music depending on the occasion. Inanda Mass Choir currently performs mostly for the community. They welcome any visitor or tourist group to join them during their practice session.

Contact: DumisaniNgidi at 0793570354 or Siboniso at 0715006320, or e-mail Sabelo at



Listen to their music: Inanda Mass Choir practice, Inanda Mass Choir practice 2, Inanda Mass Choir practice 3

About the history and activities of Inanda Mass Choir, listen to founder DumisaniNgid: Dumisani Ngidi – English

Dumisani Ngidi and Sibongile Mhlongo

Dumisani Ngidi and Sibongile Mhlongo

June 24, 2013



The person on the left represents a married woman as the shoulders are covered and the head is covered

Umemulo is a special ritual for any Zulu girl, its marks an important stage in one’s life. It shows that one has grown and matured.
I was recently invited to umemulo at Inanda Glebe and there was going to be a 21st Birthday celebration later on the same day.
I arrived on Friday afternoon, but Sphumelele and two other girls had been in doors for the whole week. They stayed in Sphumelele’s room and they were covered with white orche, not just on the faces but also on  the rest of the body. We started rehearsing for the next day as were to do Zulu dancing.
The cow had arrived early that day, it was slaughtered at night. Before it was slaughtered, we were told that we are to be quiet as the noise will make it very angry. A spear was used and the cow was stabbed at the back of the neck, as it fell down, the older women ululated in joy. Sphumele’s father gave her a drop of bile and umhlwehlwe (piece of fat) was taken from the cow and hung on her parents’ room which was to used to cover her shoulders the next day. The inside parts of the cow were cooked the same day but the rest of it was to be cooked the next day.
We then continued with rehearsing, then went to her bedroom and slept very late at night. The next day (day of the ceremony), we woke up very early in the morning, around 3-4 o’ clock. We went to the nearest river and washed our bodies. After that we changed into our traditional clothes as we were told not to re-enter the house, we sat outside the gate. After hours, sitting outside, we were allowed to enter, that’s when umhlwehlwe was taken and covered her shoulders. As we came out the older women were ululating and we were singing the hymns for Zulu dancing, heading to esigcawini (where we do the Zulu dancing). We were led by Sphumelele her father and her uncle. Sphumelele was wearing isdwaba (traditional skirt for married women made out of cow skin), she also had a spear on her hand which was given to her by her uncle (mother’s bother)and her father and uncle had sticks on their hands. She was also given a blanket by her family.

esigcawiniWhen were arrived ‘esigcawini’ we started singing and doing the Zulu dance. Family and friends were watchiembhathisiweng us and cheered . In between each song Sphumelele and two other girls would go to anyone on the crowds n put the spear in front of them and she would come back to us and do the Zulu dance. And the person who was given the spear would come to return it and pin money on her head. As they were going around with the spear, we would carry on with Zulu dancing. This went on for hours.
We then went back to her house with the people who were watching us while doing the dance. But before we could enter, Sphumelele’s father had to give us permission, we stood outside the gate and waited for him. He faced us and said ‘As the Ngcobo family, we give u permission to enter our home, you are welcome, you may enter!’ We then entered the gate, in numbers and  went in the tent, where tables were beautifully decorated and had a feast.
Later on the day, people went out of the traditional clothes and prepared for the 21st Birthday Party.

Written by: Ayanda Siphesihle Ngcobo
June 2013

May 10, 2013

Umhlonyana – Nokwanda Nene


Nokwanda Nene (left)

Nokwanda Nene is one of the first people to give feedback on the website, she says, she was fascinated about the umhlonyana story written by me. She is from Chestervillle, she attends Clairwood Secondary School and will be turning 16 this year.

After Nokwanda knew that she was to have her own Umhlonyana, she started doing research on Umhlonyana as she didn’t know much about it. As she was researching about it, she came across this website and came across the umhlonyane story. She says that she found it very interesting and she learned alot about the significance of it and what needs to be done. She also contacted me on facebook and kept on asking more questions on what she was not sure about .

Nokwanda explains that it was a challenge getting the girls together, as you need other girls of one’s age to help you with the ceremony, some of them, who had agreed, cancelled at last minute. It took her weeks to get them, especially because she wanted more than 10  girls, she had to call their parents and ask them for permission and she finally got 14 girls, which was very good. The girls came on a Saturday and the ceremony was going to be on a Sunday. Her family belongs to the Nazareth Baptist Church, Saturday is their Sabbath day and they do not perform rituals on a Saturday which is why they had to have it on a Sunday.IMG-20130408-WA002

After the girls arrived, her aunts and grandmothers came in (where they were staying at the time), they told them about the importance of staying pure till marriage. They also explained to them about the importance of umhlonyana. She explained to me that, before it was dark (on Saturday afternoon), her father came in with a goat that was to be slaughtered and knelt down ’emthini’ (where they ask for certain things or give thanks to ancestors). After the goat was slaughtered, her father took out the bile from the goat, he put some on her wrists and told her to put it in her mouth, he put some on her chest. He then explained to her that, in the morning, when she goes to the river, she has to wash it off and she must wash her body last and she must throw in silver money as it signifies good luck. They were told not to look back at the river on their way home as something misfortunate might happen. And so they did as they were told, they went home and prepared for the Zulu da17991_322805564512373_1843994558_nnce. Nokwanda wore her beaded skirt, beades around her neck and on her legs, she was dressed traditionally.

Nokwanda explains that it was nice to see all those people at the ceremony; her relatives, friends and neighbours. She says, she learnt alot, she learnt that one cannot control every situation, some things do not go exactly as planned, family is very important, they are always helpful in many situations. Nokwanda enjoyed every moment of her mhlonyana, she feels is was a wonderful experience.

Written by: Ayanda Siphesihle Ngcobo 10/5/13



April 26, 2013

Tokoloshe / Tikoloshe (evil spirit)

Hall at Ohlange

Hall at Ohlange

I know little about Tokoloshe or Tikoloshe dependence on the pronunciation, what I know is that tokoloshe is an evil spirit. I have never seen tokoloshe nor have friends who have seen it, but when we were at primary school we would hear a lot of stories of it and fairy-tales. I went to Indian schools, I don’t remember hearing cases of learners screaming that they have seen a tokoloshe. But I would hear that from the children who go to African primary school especially the primary school next to Ohlange Institute, Amandlakayise Primary School. The children in our neighbourhood will come back from school and tell us that someone saw a tokoloshe in school asking him or her for Amaas (sour milk) and there was a place that they used to tell us that’s where the tokoloshe live and that place is still there inside the Ohlange Institute it an underground hole.


The hole where some believe a tokoloshe is hiding

They are a lot of stories and fairy-tales one have heard of tokoloshe which some of them I have forgot them but I remember one fairy-tale which says  “The story of the tokoloshe originates from a few hundred years ago, when an extremely naughty boy in a rural village was said to have caused trouble with the village’s traditional leader. In order to stop the boy’s disobedient behaviour, the leader led him down to the beach, where he threw salt at the boy.  This is said to have turned the boy into the ugliest creature imaginable, but made him angry and naughtier, until eventually the villagers had no choice but to kill him. Another one is that tokoloshe is a very short thing more a dwarf who appears on little kids it has long nails with rag cloths and will ask you for Amaas if you don’t give it; it will give you a smack across your face.”

My opinion as a Christian is that tokoloshe is used as an evil spirit by the witch doctors (Inyanga) to protest or use against someone. Examples when a certain family want to perform a ritual to strengthen their house so that it can be protected for the evil spirits they would call a (Inyanga) witch doctor, the witch doctor will put this tokoloshe so that it will protect the family from other evil spirit, basically fighting evil spirit with evil spirit. The problem comes when these tokoloshe  or security guides get used to this house and  start to become more comfortable and stop doing there work. And the family will call another (Inyanga) witch doctor because they think the first Inyanga didn’t work, the second Inyanga will put his tokoloshe; that will work a year or two and they will get also feel comfortable and become friends with the other tokoloshes they find in this family  house. These tokoloshe become families in this family and they will bear children and trouble the children of the owner of the house and the whole family.

Nkanyiso Dlamini, 26 April 2013

For more information on certain aspects of this article click on one of the links below:

Amasi (sour milk)

Difference between an Inyanga and a Sangoma – Ulwazi Programme 



April 18, 2013

uMlahlankosi (Sacred tree for taking the spirit of the dead home)

Interview with Thokozile Vilakazi (iNanda- Africa) about the cultural importance of the tree called uMlahlankosi

Interviewer Thomas Mkhabela on 16 March 2013 at Inanda Afrika.


Thomas introduces the topic and Gogo Thokozile

Thomas: Greetings granny

Thokozile: Hello

Question: Can you please introduce yourself?

Answer: My name is Thokozile Vilakazi

Q: Nice to meet you, can you please share your knowledge about the tree called umlahlankosi

A: According to my knowledge about the tree is that when there is a person who has passed away in the household, a branch is taken from the tree and used to bring the persons spirit home(ukubuyisa). Also when you doing the cleansing ritual

Q: Are those the only uses for the tree?

A: According to my knowledge that’s the only use

Q: When it grows how big does it get?

A: It does not grow much it grows to the size of that flower (points)

Q: For someone who does not know it, if they see it along the road to be able to notice it, can you tell us about the shape of the leaves, does it have flowers etc…

A: It is just a small tree that does not grow to a big height and does not bloom flowers and it has green leaves

Q: Do you have any knowledge why they chose that specific tree to be used for that kind of work?

A: I don’t have any knowledge but I think the people before me saw it as befitting the work that is why it is called umlahlankosi.

Q: When it is being used, can you tell us about that process?

A: When someones spirit is being brought home there must be an animal (goat) waiting for us when coming back with the branch and meet us at the gate and talking to the spirit explaining that you have reached home and together taken emsamo.

Q: What are the dos and donts when it comes to using the tree? Like can you use it as fire wood?

A: No I do not remember it being used as firewood

Prince: Can you have it as a plant at home?

A: Yes; you can

Q: So does this mean you cannot useit without the animal and the impepho?

A: It happens if you do not have the other stuff, you can use it. I have seen people using it alone

Q: When you move from one house to another what happens?

A:Let us take Iam the one that has passed away the person who is taking my spirit will tell me that we are moving now to our new home and then he will not talk to anyone along the road until we reach our destination. When we reach robots he must tell me that we are stopping and when we are moving again.

Q: When you reach your destination what happens to the branch?

A: You must place it on the entrance of the house on top of the door

Q: And if it happens you move again what happens do you have to use the same branch or a new one?

A: If the branch has dried up to the maximum then a new branch has to be used. But then that person knows that this is home now

Q: When it comes to the impepho it is said that a woman cannot burn it and address the ancestors; does it also apply to umlahlankosi?

A: According; to me if Iam dead my granddaughter must ask a relative who is an uncle to address me when my spirit is being brought home. But she must accompany the uncle and bring my spirit home

Q: This means it is not used by woman?

A: According to my knowledge, yes since even emsamo a woman is not allowed to talk

Q: Is the tree used to a specific age group? Like maybe grown up man and not a 2year old baby?

A: Im not sure but I think it can be used on any one

Q: So do you have to use it with any one even on a person who died on a car accident, do you have to go to the same spot?

A: Yes exacly that is where you have to really go and bring the persons spirit, let us take he gets an accident here in Africa and gets taken to Mahatma Gandhi hospital and dies there as his spirit remembers being at Africa so you have to go get him in the accident spot first then go to the hospital then you come home.

Q: If a person dies in the war and we do not know the exact spot he died what do we do then?

A: If a person has died in the war and we know that the war was taking place in this location you take the branch and go there and talk to him, if he has heard you, your hair will stand and you will bring the spirit home

Q: Since we use ambulances this days, if a person fell sick and was taken to hospital in an ambulance but passes away on the way what do you do then? Do you take the branch to the hospital or the place where the person died?

A: If you saw the spot where he passed away you can go there first or start at the hospital and then go to the place.

For more information on this topic click on one of the links below:

The Umphafa or Umlahlankosi tree

Traditional Zulu practices for deceased persons