It was a sunny morning in the little village of Mbenenga in the Eastern Cape and Nyjah was sitting at the kitchen table with his grandfather, Mdala.
“Mdala tell me that story of the history of our people,” said Nyjah.
“I have told you that story a million times, Nyjah.”
“Mdala, I am only seventeen years old, for you to tell me that a million times you need to have told it to me 161 times a day from the day I was born,” joked the boy.
“Stop trying to be smart with me and go to school,” protested the old man.
“I’m not trying to be smart; I am and I get it from you,” said Nyjah as he ran out onto the street to join his friends on their way to school.
Nyjah was seventeen years old. He was tall, dark skinned, and lean; the spitting image of his grandfather, Mdala – who you would swear was his father. They were very close with each other and what made them close were the stories Mdala told Nyjah. Nyjah’s favourite story was the one about the history of the people of Mbenenga. Nyjah would always dismiss this story as a myth, but he loved hearing it anyway.
The story did indeed sound like a fable. It was about how the people of Mbenenga village had supernatural abilities and were at war with the Dukezweni village, which lay across the Nkconkconkco river. The story said that the people of Dukezweni were dying of hunger as their land was not fertile and they had no pastures for their livestock. The King of Dukez-weni, King Fuzile, had too much pride to ask for help from the surrounding villages. King Fuzile decided to consult a sangoma, who said that the only way to save his village was to use dark magic. The sangoma added that there would be a great price to pay if he was to use this dark magic. The king couldn’t care less, as all he wanted was to save his village without looking weak to other kings. King Fuzile decided to use the dark magic, despite the conse-quences. His village started to prosper, causing his people to worship him. After he had long forgotten about the dark forces, they came back to get what was owed to them. The deal was for him to kill his first born son. The king refused and his village was cursed with a hunger that could only be filled with human flesh and also gave them superhuman strength.
The only way to lift the curse was to kill King Fuzile with an olive branch (induku yomnquma) to his heart and bury that stick far from civilisation. He was the only one in his village who knew this secret. The Dukezweni people began filling their hunger by eating the people of Mbenenga.
One day, a diviner from the Mbenenga village had a vision of how the playing field could be leveled. His vision told him to slaughter a black bull and have a feast for their whole village. This would give them super speed and eyes that allowed them to see in the dark. This pro-tected them for the time being, but the war continued for years.
After many years of war, the son of the diviner had a vision of how to lift the curse. Lifting the curse of the Dukezweni village meant the people of Mbenenga would lose their super-human abilities; but they did not care, as they just wanted peace. The Prince of Mbenenga succeeded in killing King Fuzile and he buried the stick in a place where he thought no one would ever find it.
Tell us: Do you believe in the supernatural? Why or why not?