Mr Mamali

I need to prepare Nokuzola mentally for the journey to the sangoma. It is just that a father can do only so much. Now I need someone else to help her. She needs to be comfortable at school again. I wish I could be at school with her to protect her. I sense that she has very few, or no people to talk to, yet there are many good people around her, even at school.

When she gets home from school she runs to her room and stays there for a long time. “Nokuzola, are you okay in there?” I call standing with my ear to her door.

“Dad, I will be out in a sec,” she says. I can hear her voice breaking.

“Please do come out soon. I have prepared a nice sandwich for you.”

“Dad, I’m not hungry.” I can hear she is crying.

More than two hours pass. I contemplate going into her room but that would just be rude of me. She is a girl of sixteen. Sitting on the couch I try to read the Cape Times but I can’t concentrate. After a long time she comes out her room. Her eyes are red and I am overwhelmed by emotions. I want to help.

“Dad, we can go see the sangoma.” she says.


On arriving in Khayelitsha, we find a queue outside the sangoma’s place. We take our shoes off and walk into this shack with poor lighting. There are different animal skins hanging on the walls. My dad tells me they were obtained legally. An elderly man sits on the floor. I think my father is rude because he doesn’t tell this man why we are here. A candle melts as it burns eagerly. White strokes of impepho smoke fill the room.

The old man starts his consultation with us. Mysteriously he knows why we are here. My father keeps saying, “Camagu, ooGatyeni – We agree”. The sangoma tells us I will be healed, a slight smile lights up my face. The room suddenly becomes a home of hope. I reserve my excitement remembering that he is not God. I think of the SRC candidacy elections coming up at school. I really want to run for a position on the SRC. But as I am now, nobody will vote for me.

But then the sangoma shocks me to near death when he says, “You have the calling.” He tells me what the dream means that I keep having, and which wakes me at night.

In the dream an old lady with a funny looking hat and beads on her wrists is standing near a fire, singing for me in the bush. I have never been to the place in real life.

The old man tells me that it means that I will become a sangoma too.

I walk out with a traditional mixture to drink twice a day in my hand. I must accept the calling. Yuck! I think. Will I ever do that? I don’t see myself doing that, why me? What will people think of me? What will Lububalo think of me?

Tell us what you think: What do you think Lubabalo will do when he finds out?