Image: Mbali Tshabalala – @shabbzin
For the past five months, I’ve been going through very intense sequences with regards to my spirituality. I am constantly discovering new layers to this journey I’ve been on, and I must say, as intense as it has been, it’s also been one of the most satisfying and fulfilling experiences.
Growing up, African spirituality wasn’t really “my thing”, not that I hated or despised it, or anything along those lines, but I never really understood what it’s purpose and impact was. Although I did partake in annual activities at my paternal grandmother’s home in Limpopo – to thank ‘Badimo’ for their presence in our lives, for the protection they have granted us throughout the year, I still didn’t realise their presence in our lives,(well, at least not in my life) but I was young and very curious. As inquisitive as I was, I would ask questions that weren’t meant to be asked, some of these questions would cause some tension and the awkwardness was very unsettling, making me regret ever asking. Those unanswered questions would leave me even more confused than I was when we spoke to our ancestors in a designated corner next to our hut in my grandmother’s home.
“Go leboga Badimo” is always an intimate and private celebration, only the immediate family (my six uncles with their wives and children, my parents and Grandmother), were allowed to be part of it. We would wake up as early as 3/4 am to prepare the treats we would be offering to our ancestors, these would include my grandfather’s favourite whisky, snuff and tobacco, just to name a few.
We would gather around the calabash filled with umqombothi/bojwala baSesotho. We all took turns to sip the traditional beer and spit it out around the circle of humans to pay our respects to badimo, to thank them for the blessings, and ask for more blessings and protection for the year ahead.
Whenever it was my turn, I wouldn’t know what to say, so I had the whole family helping me make these annual requests to my ancestors. I would ask for more luck and blessings, I would ask them to help me do well at school, and that was about it. It was a bit difficult at first because of the difference in language between my family and I. I spoke Sesotho, of which I still do, but the slight differences in language made it quite difficult to hear what my parents, uncles and grandmother were telling me to say, it was also a bit difficult expressing myself in SePedi, but things got better and I am now able to make sense of both SePedi, SeTswana and SeSotho. As soon as I was done, I was usually the last one, we all had to take sips of the traditional beer, and swallow and then start cooking lunch. I always hated that part.
As much as I made the requests, it was merely because it was a family formality, but because I never really became aware of my ancestors’ impact in my life, by the time I went to have breakfast, I had already forgotten what I said that morning.
A lot has changed since then, and especially since the last 5 months, realising that all the uncomfortable and unanswered questions I had, I will be able to answer, because of the gifts I was born with. I am now able to communicate with my ancestors alone, in my room with treats and offerings for them without having anyone to help me, this has opened up my soul to a kind of satisfactory enlightenment that is constantly allowing me to grow and to become more sensitive to the universe.
– A bearer of untold stories