Today, he is absentminded; and melancholy is written all over his face. He is cranky and restless as a hen that is looking for a nest. Teardrops are running down his peevish face. He helplessly descends on isigqiki under a cool shadow of a tree nearby his hut, and then takes a long sip of umqombothi, trying to extricate himself from the heartache. He wrestles with his mind daringly. He can’t let it win. He can’t let it go back to the night when ruthless men raped and killed his family right in front of him.
It was a cool night of September 1990 after a very hot day, and frogs were singing their same old song, they sing every night. Only God knows its meaning. Its tune can be unbearable, but to famers like Ndoda Zulu, it brought hope for rainy days. It was his superstition. He was sitting in one of his many huts, watching his well-formed wife dishing food; a dark-skinned Zulu woman with big eyes, which danced every time she spoke. Her body was perfect. She was in her early thirties, and was raised by a descent family, which was evident in the way she loved and respected her husband and her only son, Thabani.
“Thabani come let’s eat!” Fikile, Ndoda’s wife, shouted on top of her voice. A ten-year-old boy came running.
“How was your day my son?” Ndoda asked.
“My day was fine, Dad, just that we received terrible news at school today,” the boy answered with a very sad tone.
“Let the boy finish his food, Baba,” Fikile interrupted.
“Thula mfazi! Come on Thabani, my boy, what happened?” He became extremely anxious.
“Hlanganani’s dad is dead,” Thabani replied unwillingly.
“What happened to our comrade? We were with him in our weekly meeting, two days ago. Ungazobheda wena mfana,” there was a lump in his throat.
“Let the boy finish his food Baba,” Fikile interrupted again.
“Ngithe thula mfazi!” He thundered.
“What happened to Mpangazitha?” He was now moving to and fro, and his eyes were blazing like wild fires.
“He was shot by a group of unknown guys,” Thabani replied.
“Mamoshane! Inkatha yeNkululeko! He was killed by Inkatha yeNkululeko. When will this madness end? We are almost free from apartheid, but we are not free from ourselves. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. People kill for power and prestige nowadays. It’s the survival of the fittest. Mmmm! Other comrades need to be warned. Let me go at once,” he spoke as he was making his way out.
“No! You are not going anywhere. It’s already dark and you can’t leave us alone. Sit down and eat your food Mageba! Mntwana! Ndabezitha…!” Fikile was now crying. She did not finish her words though. Four men, fully armed, with their faces covered, violently broke the door on their way in.
“Lala phansi mnumzane!” one of them proclaimed, as he was pointing Ndoda with inganono.
“Yelekelelani bo!” Fikile cried for help, but it was too little too late. They smashed her with a knobkierie. She fell helplessly on the floor.
“Yeyi wena Xov’izwe! This is Shenge’s world. ElikaGatsha, not Mandela or anyone. Our wives have turned their backs on us. They are now following you, Xov’izwe. So, your wife is ours now…Undress her,” a man commanded harshly.
“Give me the boy!” One of them begged.
So they undressed Thabani too and raped him while others were gang raping Fikile. She barely moved. She couldn’t cry anymore. What was more excruciating was not the rape, but to see her son suffering. The boy that he conceived by a miracle. She conceived him after five years of their marriage. The boy was a result of earnest prayer. Ndoda too was crying like a new-born child.
“Ngenzeni Phunga noMageba? What have I done bobaba omkhulu?” he groaned in great anguish.
The pain, like a sharp knife, had cut him open. He remembered the fights he used to have with his wife, warning him about the catastrophes surrounding politics, but he never listened to her. His stubbornness was his biggest downfall, and it had stripped him naked. All his dignity, might and pride, as a man, went down the drain that night. He failed dismally to protect his family.
“I wish I listened to you my darling,” he thought to himself crying.
Bang! They shot his wife’s head after raping her violently.
Bang! They shot Thabani too.
“Stay away from uMkhonto weSizwe (African National Congress). Next time we won’t be too kind,” they shouted on their way out, leaving him lying down next to the two cadavers. KwaZulu Natal became a killing field, as supporters of the African National Congress (ANC) and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) fought each other.
After losing his family, Ndoda Zulu stayed away from politics. He became a lonely and sad man. It was not only his wife and son that died, something also died in him that night.
Today, he is absentminded; melancholy is written all over his face. He is cranky and restless as a hen that is looking for a nest. Teardrops are running down his peevish face. He helplessly descends on isigqiki under a cool shadow of a tree nearby his hut, and then takes a long sip of umqombothi, trying to extricate himself from the heartache. He wrestles with his mind daringly. He can’t let it win. He can’t let it go back to the night when ruthless men raped and killed his family right in front of him.
It’s is now the 25th year after the death of his family, but he is still mourning for them. One wonders if this grief will ever go.
Tell us: What do you think of the political violence that we face?