By Mbangwa Xaba

There’s something I love about young people these days.
Although left in the haze of the cacophony of belligerence, ultramodern new culture that is infused with errant behaviour, the combination of the millennials and Ama-2000 is truly a cocktail of an enigma to marvel.

One is never too sure what to make of them.

One moment, we are witnessing radical ruptures at universities for the demand of decolonisation and free education, by almost non-South African people with an American accent. The next, there are drug slaves who live on the streets in troops of drug fuelled zombies in an octambulist state.

And then, there is that fascinating and fiercest human rights activists’ group – the LGBTQ plus or the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Transsexual 2/Two-Spirit Queer Questioning Intersex Asexual Ally (LGBTTTQQIAA) in this group. In the same flock, you will find free-spirited young people who wouldn’t give a penny’s worth of any traditional “norms or moral” standards as we know them. This crowd is often mixed with savvy go-getter business people who are high flyers in all kinds of industry from ICT to showbiz.

A common denominator among all members of this generation, bar the drug abuse victims on the streets, they all live a highly mobile techno life from gadgets, transport, clothes to food on the go.

Something struck a chord with me though. It was unexpected, to me at least, even by the audacious standards of Ama-2000. A large number of these young people have an ancestral calling. It happens in schools, high society dwellings, celebrity and professional cycles, practically everywhere.

It’s now a common occurrence among schoolchildren to be experiencing the calling. According to reports, children are said to be vomiting and some fainted needing cleansing or ubungoma to be undertaken at the schools.

This is a fascinating development. In a society like ours, where years of colonial oppression has almost wiped out the cultural heritage of the indigenous people, to have young people – these types of techno-Americanised young people connecting with their indigenous spirituality – gives hope for a nation with a diminishing heritage.

Traditional healing in South Africa is, according to those in the know, an important age-old spiritual guidance of a people. It is an instinctual experience beyond the realm of the physical. It involves the ancestral spirit – Idlozi.

Luisah Teish, author of the book, Jambalaya, states: “As we walk upon the Earth, our feet press against the bones of the Ancestors on whose shoulders we stand.”

Dr Velaphi Ka Luphuzi ‘V.V.O.’ Mkhize says the Ancestors, whom we call Amathongo (plural of Ithongo) in the IsiZulu. Sometimes, we refer to these people as Amadlozi (pl. of Idlozi) which means something different from amathongo. Idlozi is the ‘spirit’ that possesses a person to become an African Uhlanya (healer), whereas Ithongo are dead persons whom we believe are not dead but alive in the land of the Ancestors (kwela baphansi).

Malidoma Some in his book, The Healing Wisdom of Africa, says about Ancestors: “Ancestors are at a disadvantage because they know how to improve things and yet they do not have the body required to act on what they know. We are at a disadvantage because, although we have bodies, we often lack knowledge to carry things out properly. This is why spirits like to work through us – the person with a body is an ideal vehicle to manifest things in this world.”

This is reverting stuff and I will admit, it gives hope. Freedom remains shallow and even the useless political power we have seems to be slipping away, perhaps it’s time young people received guidance from the long-departed warriors of our land, may our future leaders create a better society through them.

This powerful connection has been suppressed at every corner. I recall an incident involving Tony Yengeni celebrating his early release from a four-year prison sentence.

The wayward ANC leader slaughtered a bull at his father’s house in the Cape Town township of Gugulethu to perform a thanks-offering to the Yengeni family Ancestors. This ritual was met with admonishment by animal rights activists. They decried the sacrifice as an act of unnecessary cruelty, and a public outcry ensued.

Needless to point out that the Yengeni experience continues as the daily struggle for far too many Africans in their land. Many of us had to deal with law enforcement authorities, just to observe our spiritual and cultural rights.

The culture and religion of the majority citizens in South Africa is strangely devalued and underrated. It escapes my logic as to why religious beliefs are treated with greater respect than cultural practices.
In traditional African societies the two are inseparable and I think the Constitution makes the same equal provisions.

Interestingly, as shown with ubungoma, our religion and culture infuse medicine. It is pleasing that as more and more young people take up the calling from our Ancestors, our universities are responsive.
Master of Arts graduate at Walter Sisulu University (WSU), Asavela Kasa, recently graduated with cum laude for her research titled: Health Seeking Behaviour of Traditional Women Using Traditional Medicine: A case Study of Lalini Location, Qumbu Village.

The research focused mostly on the experiences of women using traditional medicines in the location. The experiences addressed in this research were: their choice of health support for fertility and pregnancy, what influenced their decisions on the choices of traditional usage for conception and during pregnancy.

Despite all their challenges, it does seem there is an impactful development that will be ripped out of the chaotic lives of Ama-2000.

With the connection of Ancestors, growing knowledge of our roots and their insistence on our culture, region and medical ways, I can only say: “Vumani bo!”

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