The sangoma lit some imphepho and then sat on the third mat. The small fire radiated a small ring of light and a thin stream of smoke snaked up towards the roof of the hut. Holding the imphepho, the sangoma looked across at Karabo.

‘Why does he hate you today?’ she asked Karabo, as though William were not present.

Karabo’s eyes widened, before shrugging. ‘I don’t know Makhosi, it is how he is,’ she responded, shaking her head at the sangoma.

‘Hmph…maybe he should leave. His cold is disturbing me,’ she said to Karabo and then turned to William. ‘You must go,’ she said.

William straightened up and glared at her. ‘I’m not going anywhere,’ he said, ‘this is about my family and I deserve   to be here.’

The sangoma cackled in response, before peering at William. ‘You deserve nothing!’ she retorted sharply, and turned away from William to look at Karabo.

‘Why are you here my child?’ she asked.

‘Ma, we have come to seek your guidance. The dream of the queen. Why is it important?’ she asked, respectfully lowering her eyes.

The sangoma waved the imphepho to ward off the unwanted spirits and then slowly she began to rock backwards and forwards, speaking in a language Karabo had never heard before. Without much thought, Karabo copied the sangoma and closed her eyes, swaying to the rhythm of her words. The smoke filled her nostrils and William disappeared from her thoughts. When she opened her eyes, she found herself in a jungle. It was hot and humid, and she felt claustrophobic, trapped. She looked up to see the sky, but saw a canopy of trees towering above her.

All around her was forest. ‘Don’t panic’ she told herself, ‘Breathe’. The smell of forest was damp and earthy. She breathed it in slowly and then closed her eyes again. As she opened her eyes to try and understand where she was, it was no clearer. She was still in a thick forest. Breathing slowly, she turned her head to look at the tangled branches and hanging roots surrounding her. As she turned to look for a way out, she noticed that one side the forest seemed to thin and open up. Karabo could feel that was where she needed to go. With great effort she allowed herself to be led to the edge of the thinning forest, until she could see a beach ahead of her. A turquoise ocean lapped at the edge of the deserted beach. It was beautiful, an absolute paradise! As she walked onto the beach, she could feel the grains of sand rub against the soles of her bare feet, and a warm breeze touched the skin of her face. Karabo stood on the beach and looked along its length. The beach stretched into an elongated C-shape, with rocky outcrops in the far distance. In the centre of the beach she could see the sprawling lawns of an estate. As she walked further along the beach, she saw a huge mansion that stood boldly, beyond its manicured lawns and private beach.

The estate was vast and made Karabo shiver. A huge mansion or hotel (she couldn’t tell) glared down at the beach. Karabo knew it wasn’t a good place. She drew her eyes away from the mansion and looked down the beach again. She’d been wrong — the beach wasn’t deserted. There was a group of men walking towards her. As they got closer, she could see their faces, and the man leading the way was one she knew all too well. It was the face of Edward English, who strode confidently up the beach and turned to speak to the men on either side of him. ‘Gentlemen, welcome to Libertalia, no longer the fabled land of the free in Madagascar,’ he said, stretching his arms up and down the beach, ‘this is the new Libertalia where we, and those we see fit to join us, ARE free!’

Everything went dark and Karabo found herself spinning until she finally felt the cold floor of the sangoma’s hut through the reed mat beneath her. She dropped her head into her hands and hung onto her head until the spinning stopped. Once the dizziness had subsided, she swallowed the taste of bile in her throat and rubbed her eyes. As she blinked them open, she looked around her to make sure she was no longer on the beach.

***

Question: What could Karabo’s vision mean?