She was instantly transported back to the sangoma’s hut. She had met the sangoma (who was now her teacher) a year ago in this hut. It was here that she had shown Karabo how Mzi and William’s families were intricately connected by a war that happened hundreds of years ago. It was in this hut, that Karabo learned the truth about William’s family.
As her senses sharpened, she became aware that the hut was filled with smoke. She could smell the sacred herbs — used to clear any unwanted spirits and bring forth those that needed to be heard. She blinked and turned around, trying to work out if she was in the centre of the hut, but she couldn’t be sure. The smoke was so thick and Karabo couldn’t see anything beyond her hands. While her natural instinct would have been to panic and start looking for the door, she knew where she was and that there was something she needed to see.
‘Makhosi, I am in your hut again. Why am I here?’ asked Karabo, seeing nothing but the smoke ripple in front of her. She felt her teacher before she saw her. Slowly, the sangoma appeared through the smoke.
‘Aaah, Karabo. Here we are again. You must like my indumba if you keep coming here?’ she croaked. The sangoma shuffled closer to Karabo, so that she became clearer through the haze of smoke. Beads of red, white and black were plaited into her hair, and they made a soft clinking sound as she moved. Her shoulders were covered with a thick blanket, and her wrinkled forehead made her small eyes appear closed, but Karabo knew she was staring at her.
Karabo chose not to respond.
‘Your ancestors are troubled that you have not started your training, even though they have called you… repeatedly,’ said the sangoma, walking around Karabo, the smoke drawing in and out of her mouth as she spoke.
‘Is that why I am here?’ asked Karabo, crossing her arms over her chest, ‘because I have not come to you to start my training?’
The sangoma cackled, and then raised her eyebrows as she drew her wrinkled forehead up, and came closer to Karabo.
‘You think you are a clever one, eh? Going to a fancy school, living in a fancy house in Sandton. Remember, there is no report card or credit card in the spirit world. Know your place,’ warned the sangoma.
Karabo’s eyes narrowed, and she bit on the inside of her cheek to stop herself from responding. The taste of metal filled her mouth.
‘You are here…’ huffed the sangoma, ‘because of that boy — the sea rat. His ancestors are close. This time, it’s his mother’s side,’ she explained.
Before Karabo could make sense of what the sangoma was saying, the woman began walking around Karabo, faster and faster until she was trotting. She began to sing in a language Karabo didn’t understand. Faster and faster her words rang out,
faster and faster she ran, until Karabo could no longer make out where the sangoma was. Karabo felt as though she was in the eye of a tornado, and as the smoke continued to swirl around her, she felt dizzy and had to sit down. Slowing her breathing and concentrating to calm herself. She didn’t want to wake up until she saw what her ancestors needed to show her. As her breathing slowed, the dizziness lifted to reveal the image of a woman appearing slowly out of the smoke.
She wore an elaborate dress. The bodice was tight and covered in lace, with an embellished skirt ballooning out from its cinched waist. It looked as though it was probably from the eighteenth century. Karabo stepped back as the smoke continued to swirl, and the woman’s form became clearer. The sound of the sangoma’s chanting faded into white noise and the woman smiled at Karabo, before reaching out and picking up an ornate crown. Carefully, she placed it on her head and adjusted it, before picking up a sceptre to stand tall, poised and regal. Karabo could see her perfectly. Her features were unique and beautiful — neither European nor African — and she stood fearless, despite her small frame.
A young girl emerged from the smoke and ran towards the woman, her hair tied up in pigtails with ribbons. Her dress was also old-fashioned and looked like a pinafore that some of the girls-only schools wore. The child threw her arms around the regal woman, who bent over and smiled at the child in response. Karabo reached to touch them as they embraced, but as she extended her arm towards them, they vanished.
Question: What could Karabo’s vision mean? Do you have any ideas?