Tag Archives: ancestors
January 20, 2015

Kay Mzizi – traditional healer at Ohlange

Interview with Mr Kay Mzizi on the 03 of September 2014 at eNanda, Ohlange. Interviewer: Zandile Mazibuko


I hear that you are called ‘umlaphi’ a traditional healer, how does a person go about in wanting to be like you. The training and learning process and how do you know you have the calling?

How did I learn?

Yes, whether you learn or not?

Ok number one; you need to know the different plants that grow in the forests. Number two, I will give you may example according to me, I am originally from Eastern Cape when I was still in school in 1979, you take different plants and put them together , call a girl by means of blowing the plants in the air saying you need them here. Secondly someone comes and tells you this is their problem, then you put this and that plant together and you solve the problem. Going past that you come to the place of having a gift that is given by the ancestors. Maybe you’re a prayer or a sangoma, you need to tell people seeking your help the truth and the person must let you know that you’re saying the truth and if not they also need to let you know.

Are you satisfied?

Yes baba

Thank you girl

Can I please ask, how do you deal with a situation whereby you cannot seem to resolve the person’s situation because African people go and try to interpret things at a traditionalist, what do you say to them if you cannot seem to find a solution?

Thank you, this is what happens, you come to me and ask for my help, you therefore explain to me what is going on and if I see that I do not see clearly to your matter, I throw my bones and talk to my ancestors to show me what is this person suffering from and that so this and that plant will be what they need to help them.

Do you get me?

Yes I do

For example another person comes and says I am sick because of this and that, I throw my bones to see if there is anything else and my ancestors tell me you do not need anything but only to prepare traditional Zulu beer.

That’s it?

That is it, maybe the cause of this is the dispute of the person in need’s ancestors and what they need is meat and traditional Zulu beer but not a big ceremony of slaughtering a cow or goat because this may cause a conflict to the ancestors because some of them were involved in a car accident and that is how they past on, now blood on blood is not acceptable.

Do you hear me?

Yes I do

Same as when people who die on car accidents, they are not brought back home because their blood will come and finish the whole family. Also when buying a car, you do not slaughter a goat because that blood will cause bad luck on the car for you, like an accident.

Who does not like a car?

Nobody because I also like it but not only that I also need it

All you need to do is thank the ancestors by setting alight “impepho”, do not say thank you but say can I have a better car, it is also about finding a job, everyone needs to have a job and you want to get paid well when you have that job so do not say thank you to the ancestors but say can they provide you with a better one because they will assume that you are happy and satisfied so they’re help is not needed anymore, you’ve had enough.

You can ask any question you like


Even sangoma’s come to me and ask for my assistance, talking about that they are closed. Same as liquor shop owners who say that they are closed down and I tell them that it is because someone bewitched your business by buying at your shop with a bottle which has been put pig fat oil or horse oil and gave it to you, you there after put it with the other bottles and then the spell works in closing your means of production. This is all due to the fact that people do unforeseen things that are wrong just because of jealousy or greed. People are not the same, they have different problems and I can do this or anyone else out of knowledge and experience.

One minute!

Ok go ahead, ask my girl

What is the difference between all of you, sangoma’s, inyanga and umlaphi because I can see that some of the things you use are the same as sangoma’s use too? What are your different job titles?

Ok firstly, I use water and plants (muthi) and when necessary bones too. I go to the Isipingo Sea or another waterfall, these other practitioners do not use water in most cases, and some cannot even go to the forest because they cannot interact with the snakes there because it is their totems. The reason why they are called differently is because of their different callings, their totems in which they work with and the training and practice process that is different, to prove this for example there is a boy “Mandla” who came to me with a problem of not finding a job, I went and dipped him in the dam that I normally got to at four in the morning and he found a job within days and he did not even believe in these things. Whereas the sangoma is the one who goes to the sea and dip themselves not the person who seeks help, they send people to do certain things.

If you’re the one who is sick, how do you help yourself because normally people such as yourself do not help themselves?

Thank you, there is this springbok skin that I have from my training, I take it and I lay on a traditional mate called “ucansi” and take the springbok skin and make it my blanket on the floor at 00:00pm at night I then dream and the ancestors show me which and which plant I mix and use it to be healed. At home a child broke their arm and I had to put such and such of medicine on the wound and they were ok after the next few days, I tell you we don’t normally go to hospitals.

What about your own children or close family, do you help them or do they seek help from someone else?

I help them, whatever the sickness but I am the one who helps them because in most cases I know things before hand for example when a member of the family is pregnant, I know the gender of the child, the day it will be born and they do not go to hospitals. If there is any problems towards the pregnancy then it needs to be fixed maybe she is pregnant and the boyfriend has another girlfriend that they are fighting, maybe she has bewitched her underwear now so I fix that. All my children get married and they deliver at home because there are certain mixtures I make them drink before giving birth. As for someone else I make them go to the hospital quickly before the child is born here.

Are you satisfied?

Yes I am thank you

You can ask another question, I like children like you who want to learn by asking, you see each and every problem of a person showing this and that sign means this and that.

I am learning so much today

Can you interpret dreams and how do you go about it?

Yes I can and good

I’ve been having the same dream in one night and this dream involves meat and a thief and people who are telling me this are people that I know, warning me about this person? What does it mean?

Ok let me tell you, there are people who have small creatures that work for them as I have said that I started this back in 1979. We use to herd cattle cows, goats as small boys and these creatures usually told us what medicine to use because they relate to children because of their innocence, they use to bring us food like maas to eat and when we got older they left us, so sometimes people use these creatures to do bad things to others out of jealousy. There are these creatures in the townships whereby a person practicing witchcraft sleeps with a monkey and they produce this creature for them to be able to commit such acts. Finally there is this animal that looks like a rat and it is sent to steal your underwear, it pokes a hole on it and takes that piece to the sender, they therefore mix that piece with money and medicine and you find yourself not having money and not even getting married because of this. There is another animal which looks like a cat but it has three legs most people who practice witchcraft have that animal and so they also send it to do ugly things. You see my girl this is all created by the eye in which it sees a person as a threat and it becomes jealous so people are like that in life.

Do you have a specific kind of group of patients that you help for example a white person comes and seeks for your help, do you help them?

Yes very well, I help all kind of races, it does not matter who it is or what their race is, its all about the situation that they are coming with. I have helped so many people from different races, Indians and White people for example one other time an Indian lady came to me asking how can she get rid of the huge pimples on her face and can I tell her who did this to her. I told her that I cannot tell her who it is but what I can do is get rid of the pimple and I did so because I could see that who did this (it was a black lady) to her it was because at work she treats other staff members badly and she returned to come and thank me. This is the same as when someone wants to be with you or do the same as the Indian lady all they do is have a black string put horse oil on it and other medicines, they call your name in the air and when they bury the string and you cross over it, automatically you have the pimples all over your face due to what that person has done.

Do you get me?

Yes I do


I see pictures around here in your office and it shows that you work with hospital nurses; do you work with them and other people?

Ok listen, yes I do work with them, you see I work also on different projects with the community people. I take care of children from an early age who are poverty stricken at home and they do a course on health care after they finish matric and because I have certificates for people who can do home base care practical’s with, I take them and they finish and I send them to big hospitals to work there for a living. This stops a child from giving herself to men just to make ends meet at home for her. Because these children are hungry and I run a soup kitchen for them where they get porridge for breakfast early in the morning and they eat lunch and some even carry the food home so I help them to not go hungry, be able to focus at school and even if they do not have electricity back home I take it out of my own pocket for them to be able to study, this eliminates poverty and starvation. As for the boys I put them in my soccer team for them to not do drugs and steal to survive because for them to provide this habit they could smash your car’s wind-screen and take the car’s radio, now all these costs just for a radio in which he will sell for R20 and when you ask them they say it is because I was hungry. So once they are well trained, big teams like Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates want them and they go and play for those teams.

I also give out food parcels for homeless children and grown-ups during the December month because some children do not have parents and they need that experience of having a parent because umuntu ngumutu ngabantu. Some people come with cases that they have lost their wives and they want them back home and so I help them, I help even people who do not have money.

Wouldn’t someone see what you are doing as wrong?

No it’s something we have always done in our culture it’s just that people have been turned to be corrupt and some lie and use these women and leave them. What is important is that mother’s and women in general are the peace-makers in homes and men are not well respected when there is no woman in his life, homes are stable because of women and if a woman is not happy at home she talks about it unlike men. Most cases I deal with has to do with these things of infidelity in marriages, stepmothers and they children, men and their drinking habits but I would say that men who drink tend to speak the truth unlike those who do not they have many secrets.

I have hardship with people and their relationships


So no truth no solutions! Are you satisfied?

Yes I’m satisfied

For the record can you please repeat your full name and surname?

Ok, I’m Kay Mzizi originally from Eastern Cape, Phonqho I came in 1985 to Durban and worked at the harbor, offloading goods.

Thank you sir

No thank you.




November 19, 2014

Interview with Irina Mthembu about life in Inanda

Irina and PhumlaniInterview summary in English

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



January 17, 2014

Woza eNanda Walking Trail – cultural & social points of interest


Loyiso, Sanele & Mlu

What can one see and experience along the eNanda Walking Trail?

Below are some explanations and opinions provided by Mlu Mthembu, Loyiso Ntsalaze and Sanele Mvuyane from Inanda, but please contribute your own knowledge by leaving a comment or e-mailing us at enandaonline@gmail.com.

Follow these links for more information about plants along the trail or small shops and informal businesses.  For more information about the Woza eNanda Walking Trail trail initiative, check out our regular updates.


Dube family home

Dube family home

Dube family home

John Dube built this home, near the Ohlange Institute, in 1921. It is still occupied today by his only surviving daughter, Lulu Dube.

Follow this link for an interview with Lulu Dube.






Township homes may all look much alike at first sight, but are in fact displaying a great variety of building styles, shapes and materials. They reflect the aspirations and prosperity of the homeowners, but also cultural beliefs. For instance, a round hut on the premises indicates that a traditionalist (non-Christian) lives here; white border stones are used by Shembe believers. Tires on roof tops are believed to protect the home from lightning strikes and people sometimes store other items of top of the roof for protection from thieves. Even the most modest shack may be equipped with a satellite dish.

Listen here for more:

Stones and tires on the roof

Satellite dishes

Round huts

RDP houses

Horns on the wall

Upgrading a home

Fruit and vegetables

People in eNanda grow vegetable in every available spot of land around their home. Most common crops are meali (corn), pumpkin, beans, sweet potato, madumbi, etc. Mealis are especially important as a staple diet. Fruit trees – mango, avocado, bananas, pawpaw, and grapefruit are especially common in the vicinity of the Shembe settlement.

About mealies 

Goats and chicken

Goats and chicken are roaming around everywhere, because they are not only a source of meat, but important for ritual purposes. Goats represent the link with the ancestors and are slaughtered when ceremonies are performed. Among the chicken, only the black and white chicken are sacrificial animals, each for a different purpose. The goat’s horns are displayed above the door or on a pole around the homestead after the ceremony and pieces of skin are worn on people’s wrist.


Black and white chickens


Children’s games

Children in eNanda have few toys, but they can be seen having fun with their own kind of games. Amagenda is a game played with small stones; udonkey is played with tennis balls. Then there is street soccer with very small goals and special rules;  uqithi involves climbing up into a tree and vumvum is a toy made out of string and a pierced flattened bottle-top.

Children’s games

Street soccer


Street names and house numbers

Street names may be taken for granted in the city, but were only introduced in some parts along the trail as late as last year. Previously, homes were simply numbered and now, the old and the new numbering system coexist. Some people proudly decorate the new street number on the wall of their home.


Some interesting snippets

IMG_8151Imbizweni – place of judgement: This old fig tree at the Gandhi Settlement was used as a meeting place for community elders to consult and pass judgement.






IMG_8006 Shoes hanging from the overhead lines once referred to drugs being sold around here, remember Loyiso, Mlu and  Sanele, but this meaning has changed today …








IMG_8077Piles of wood stored next to a house indicate that the family is preparing for a ritual.







IMG_8052 Wrecks or old cars are found at various homesteads.  They might be keepsakes in memory of their owner …






IMG_8119 Preparing skins for clothing and ritual purposes is a highly developed skill…







IMG_8175 At this inconspicuous homestead, not far from the Gandhi Settlement, traditional Infene dance performances take place at the weekend at the end of each month.






Dead trees could be an indication of witchcraft, as a neighbour may have sent lighting.

House music is very popular and may be heard coming out of various homes.



There are many NGOs in the area and some of them could be potentially be visited with prior arrangements. More information about them will follow shortly.




This is a GPS capture of the routes we took from Ohlange to Phoenix and back, mapped onto Google Earth.

track 1





Compiled by Sabine Marschall 17/1/14

January 15, 2013


Umhlonyana is a ritual performed when a girl reaches puberty (when they get their first menstruation), usually between the ages 14-16. Umhlonyana is a name of a plant that was, in the old days, used to cleanse the girl when she got her first menstruation; it was also used to make the girl firm in order to survive in the outside wold, the girl has to drink it while preparing for the actual ritual. But nowadays ‘umhlonyana’ the plant is not used as it is no longer available, the only umhlonyana plant that still exist is said to be in Newcastle.  From my knowledge, this ritual is done to introduce a girl to the different stage and to tell her she must be careful and be watchful of her behaviour. It is also meant to teach girls how to behave when they reach the puberty stage. As I have mentioned above that it is for girls who have reached puberty but some people associate it with Sweet 16 Birthday celebration, maybe because some people have it when they are 16 years. In some cases, you may find that a girl child, especially if they are first born, may face difficulties growing up, they might get seriously ill. They may discover that their ill because they did not do the ‘umhlonyana’ ritual, even if they are way past the puberty stage, they will have to go back and do the ritual. As it is important to obey ancestors and do as they have commanded.

Red ochre, shortly after it has been applied to the face

When preparing for the ritual, the girl who will be having ‘umhlonyane’ has to ask other girls her age to gather at her house for a week. In that week, old woman are to stay with the girls, talk to them about what it means to be a young lady and how they should carry themselves. During that week, the girls are to stay together in one room, they are not allowed to go anywhere, food is prepared for them and they are served, they only leave the room when going to the bathroom. They are also not allowed to talk to males and they wear ‘imbovu’ (red ochre) on their faces. Their stay during this whole week in known as umgondo, so they are said to be at emgonqweni.

A friend of mine had her ‘umhlonyana’ when she was 15 years old. She attended boarding so we could not stay at her house who the whole week, we gathered on Friday afternoon and the ritual was on Sunday. It was on Sunday because her grandmother is a member of the Shembe Nazareth Church and they only do their rituals on Sunday, Saturday is their Sabbath day and a day of praise and rest. From Friday afternoon, imbovu was put on our faces from the time we got there; we were also told that we are not to wear pants for the whole weekend. During our stay, from Friday afternoon, we were taught songs for the Zulu dance, we practiced certain steps associate to each song. The older women told us tales of the past, they told us about the importance of ‘umhlonyana’, they told us about how we should behave as teenage girls. They would also tell us what certain songs mean, where they come from and why they were sung.

On Sunday morning, we woke up at 3am, we went to the nearest dam to wash our bodies and washed off ‘imbovu’ for the last time, we are told that we are washing away the bad spirits and we are being cleansed and will re-enter the world as new beings. After going to the dam, there was a goat by the gate, waiting for us. Right before we could enter, the goat was slaughtered right before us. The father of the house slaughtered the goat and inyongo (bile) was taken from the goat and she (my friend who was having the ritual) drank a drop of it. Right after she drank it, she did the Zulu dance and we sang and clapped for her. We entered the home; we went back to the room that was allocated for us. We carried on with the Zulu dance and songs, in preparation for the ceremony. After a couple of hours, we were dressed in traditional clothing and we were topless. At around 12pm, people (neighbours & relatives) started pouring, they were looking forward to watch us doing the Zulu dance and singing the traditional songs. We went to an open space, where everyone could see us, we started singing and dancing. People were not just watching but they were putting around my friend’s head and two other girls who were leading the dance and song. The three of them would lead and the rest of us would follow but money was given only to them. After song and dance, we went back to her home, took off the traditional clothing, and sat around the table which was prepared for us. It was then like a party, the table had different types of food, traditional food and also cake and drinks. That was the end of it.

For me, umhlonyana was a great experience; I also got to learn more about my culture. I also had a chance to ask questions about things that I did not understand. It significant might have shifted but I still see it as an important ritual.


Read more by Ayanda Ngcobo


Zulu beer

Respecting the dead

December 18, 2012

Traditional healer, Dlalisana Khambule with Xolani Magwaza

Traditional healer, Dlalisana Khambule, advises Xolani Magwaza (in isiZulu)

English summmary:

December 18, 2012

Dlalisana Khambule talks about traditional healing and Christianity

Johnson Dlalisana Khambule talks to Xolani Magwaza about the relationship between traditional healing and Christianity (in isiZulu)

English summary: Since the sangoma works on a regular basis with his traditional beliefs whereas his wife deals more on the biblical Judea-Christian beliefs, Xolani the interviewer is trying to find out how the sangoma and his wife deal on a daily basis with challenges that come with marital issues considering that they have different beliefs that are popularly believed to not agree on many aspects of life.

The sangoma’s response was quite descriptive in that he starts with a brief history of his childhood beliefs in the Roman Catholic Church and his wife’s childhood in the Zion Christian church. He then tells of the exact point in his adulthood when he was guided and then converted from the Roman Catholic Church into joining the Zion Christian Church and then to become Isangoma which came about to him through a spiritual message from his late elders or ancestors. He further elaborates that he firmly believes that God and ancestors are one thing; he explains that he truly does believe in God and he has seen all the good works which God has done in his life and he prays on a regular basis. Once he was a sangoma, he then asked his ancestors to give him a wife who is a believer/saved; this was granted to him by his ancestors through a dream where he was told to go to the Zion Christian church and he will find his wife there going by the name Gladys Mbanjwa.

Xolani wants the sangoma to share his views on what are some of the issues that make traditional beliefs clash or contradict with Christian beliefs.

The sangoma responds by saying that firstly, one should not see or view things strictly from one perspective i.e. one should have an open mind when dealing with different issues. He further explains that any couple should firstly get to know each other intimately on an emotional, physical and mental level before deciding to get married because harmony is important in a relationship especially in a marriage. He is a sangoma and his wife is a pastor yet they share a similar view that they should not keep secrets from each other in their marriage which is why they get along so well together.

Xolani then asks if the sangoma consults with his ancestors for his wife and if the wife prays for her sangoma since that is not considered a norm in modern society.

The sangoma says yes, he does consult with his ancestors about matters concerning his wife and his wife also prays for him. This is shown for example when his wife comes to him and asks him to consult with the ancestors on a matter that has been concerning her to get clarity from the ancestors about what it is that’s bothering her and how she can get better. Also, he mentions how his wife encourages her Zion Christian Church congregation to also go consult with traditional healers as there are some people who are saved but they souls might be not be at peace.

In conclusion the sangoma explains how his beliefs in ancestors and traditional healing combined with his wife’s Christian beliefs join together to create a powerful union in their marriage, and considering now that since the traditional medicines he uses plus the biblical word his wife preaches are all gifts from God which work in harmony in helping them elevate to higher levels of spirituality in life.

(Summary by Nkanyiso Dlamini, February 2013)

December 18, 2012

Traditional healer, Johnson Dlalisana Khambule

Johnson Dlalisana Khambule talks about traditional healing (in isiZulu)

English summary:  The Sangoma is explaining that the Isidlodlo, (the goat skin) on his wall symbolizes to him a time when he was remembering his ancestors who are in heaven; remembering them by slaughtering a goat and burning incense then using a part of the Isidlodlo, (the goat skin) as a sign of remembrance and thanks giving for all the good fortunes in his life that God and his ancestors have done for him. Each skin on his wall shows how many times he has paid tribute to his ancestors.

The two goat skins hanging on the wall are called Inqombo also a goat skin, it is worn when he is terminally ill because of his ancestors calling, which traditionally happens when they (the ancestors) require someone to be a Sangoma or as it is usually termed a traditional healer. Firstly he slaughters a goat, talks and agrees with his ancestors that he will become a Sangoma. That same goat he slaughters’ he puts it on his body and wears it, then he get healed because he has done what his ancestors want from him. That is what Inqombo is used for.

Summary by Nkanyiso Dlamini, February 2013