“Thimo-mo, oh thile-le.” Gogo Lesedi was singing her happy tune as she walked to her ancestral hut across the yard from her house. She’d just had a lovely breakfast, and she was ready to start her day.
“Nthabiseng!” She shouted for one of her initiates who was nearby, washing a 20-litre bucket outside the toilet.
“Yebo, Gogo?” Nthabiseng stopped what she was doing and looked at Gogo Lesedi with her hands on her hips.
“I will be in the hut, OK? Anyone who wants me, just direct them in here,” Gogo Lesedi said, taking off her shoes, and placing them near the door.
“Yebo, Gogo.” Nthabiseng went back to what she was doing.
“Thimo-mo, mo-mo, oh thile-le …” Gogo Lesedi continued with her song as she entered the hut.
She took a small red and white shawl from the shelf beside the door and wrapped it around her.
“Thimo-mo, mo-mo.” She picked up a jar and tried opening it.
“Oh, this lid is tightly closed,” she exclaimed, and added extra strength. The lid opened. “There we go. Mmmh, the smell is so strong, just how it should be.”
She poured the contents of the jar into a big bowl on the floor before going to the other side of the bowl and kneeling down. There was a container resting there, and from it she took what looked like peanuts and leaves, and added them to the bowl.
She then grabbed a 2-litre bottle that was filled to the brim with sea water.
She’d driven to Durban in her Toyota bakkie two months ago, with a lot of 2-litre empty plastic bottles, to get this sea water. Sea water was very important when making herbal mixtures like the one she was preparing right now. She poured just a little bit of that sea water into the bowl. The steam came out of the bowl like something was burning.
“Thimo-mo, mo-mo …” She went back to her tune.
Next Gogo Lesedi took a small rock that fit inside her palm and started pounding the contents of the bowl with it. She was still singing and the sound of the pounding matched with her voice. It all synced together in a beautiful harmony. As the herbs inside the bowl were crushed they started getting sticky and emanating a strong smell.
Gogo Lesedi suddenly felt an intense heat on her shoulders. She stopped singing and pounding. She looked around. There was nothing there. She sighed, and went back to pounding. The song followed.
“Mo-mo, thile-le le –” She stopped when the heat hit her again, this time even more powerfully. She felt the little burning sensation on her shoulders again and she then knew what this could mean. Her Elders were summoning her, and she figured it must be urgent because they were never this strong when they called for her.
She put the rock inside the bowl and moved it aside. She then took a tight bundle of bushy incense from the shelf, struck a match and held it to the incense. When it caught fire, she blew on it and it started burning.
“Oh, my Elders, here I am.” She moved the burning incense around, filling her space with its thick smoke. “Please, I am here, talk to me.”
Gogo Lesedi started feeling dizzy. The room felt like it was spinning, and it suddenly got dark; she couldn’t see. She didn’t stop talking to her Elders. “I am here, my Elders. Please talk to me.”
It then got ominously silent around her. She knew that she had transcended. She was no longer in the Physical World; she was now in the Spiritual World.
She blinked a couple of times to adjust her eyes to the dark.
It started getting windy. There were no trees in sight, but she heard a whooshing sound, as if strong rain were approaching. Gogo Lesedi knew that she was in the presence of her Elders: she needed to pay attention to every sign they were going to show her, so she didn’t miss anything
“Yes, I am here, my Elders. I’m listening.” She softly clapped her hands twice, and bent her knees.
Miraculously, the wind turned to dust. She shielded her eyes with her hands.
The dust made what looked like human forms in front of her. Gogo Lesedi squinted her eyes to see properly. The dust showed one person lying on a bed, another one standing beside it, while the third person was kneeling on the ground, seemingly clapping her hands multiple times.
The whole scene looked familiar. It was uncannily memorable.
“I see three people, my Elders, but I do not understand the message,” Gogo Lesedi said in a raised voice.
The dust got stronger, and it showed more people, another three. They were now six people. One of the three people who had just arrived pushed the one who was standing beside the bed, and leaned over the one who was lying on the bed. The other two went to the wall to open what looked like … curtains? Yes, curtains! It got brighter. They drew open the curtains, and rushed to the person who was kneeling beside the bed, clapping their hands.
It was as if Gogo Lesedi was slapped with realisation: she now saw what her Elders were trying to show her. They were showing her the time she had helped the girl by the name of Kganya who had been haunted by the Dark Souls in the hospital.
She had sneaked in with the two family friends to help Kganya, who was lying unconscious on her hospital bed. The person kneeling down was her, the one standing by the bed was Ntombi, Kganya’s mother, and those three that came in later were the doctor and two nurses. Yes! She got it now. But what was it about that incident that she needed to see?
“I understand now, my Elders. That was the time I helped Kganya at the hospital. Is she in trouble now?” Gogo Lesedi asked.
The dust erased this scene and showed another one. It showed the girl, who now Gogo Lesedi knew to be Kganya, standing up stronger and facing what looked like the Dark Souls.
“Kganya is going to fight the Dark Souls?” Gogo Lesedi asked herself.
Then the dust showed Kganya walking to Gogo Lesedi’s house and standing with what looked like her other initiates.
“I now understand, my Elders. Thank you for talking to me.” Gogo Lesedi clapped her hands twice and bent her knees.
The dust subsided in front of her and eventually vanished entirely. Her Elders were done.
Gogo Lesedi retreated backwards. After a short distance, she got dizzy, and her sight became fuzzy. The place started spinning under her feet.
She came to a bit later, and she was in her hut, kneeling on her reed mat as before. The bowl she was pounding her herbs in was where she’d put it. The noise outside reminded her that she was back in the Physical World. The incense had burned out; it was only ashes on the tray now.
She thought back to what her Elders had shown her.
“Kganya has powers to fight the Dark Souls, and she is coming here get initiated?” Gogo Lesedi asked herself. “When is she coming? Today? Tomorrow? Oh, well, I should start preparing for her arrival now.” Gogo Lesedi stood up to go prepare the mattress in the room of the initiates for the coming of Kganya.
Tell us: How much do you know about indigenous plants and their healing or spiritual powers? Is this something you are interested in?