“Thank you for coming so quickly, Mama Kganya, and alone, as I have requested,” Gogo Lesedi said.

“Is everything OK with Kganya?” Ntombi asked. She didn’t want to waste any time.

Ntombi got in the taxi the minute Gogo Lesedi hung up the phone. Gogo Lesedi didn’t say why, but she told her to get there like, immediately.

“Everything is OK with Kganya, but I am afraid nothing is OK with her initiation.”

“What is it? It is only day one, surely it can’t be that bad.”

“Oh, trust me, it is worse.”

Ntombi had never seen Gogo Lesedi this riled up before. She was usually the calm one in every stormy situation, but now, she wasn’t even gentle when talking to her. What could have gone wrong in the past twenty-four hours?

“Kganya was steaming early this morning in the rondavel. I told her to talk to her Elders for guidance. Then, I don’t know how, but … the Dark Souls, in their cunning way, managed to get her to the Spiritual World where they tried taking her. I had to get in there to fight for her. I have never fought like that with the Dark Souls in my entire life. They were so strong; it was by luck that I defeated them.”

Gogo Lesedi looked shaken. She took a few deep breaths to calm herself down.

After a few moments, she swallowed and continued, “I then took Kganya to my hut and asked her to burn the incense and call her Elders in my presence – it didn’t burn! I took it and burned it myself. I asked my Elders what was wrong. They showed me that Kganya’s Elders don’t see her, and you are the one who knows why.”

“Um…” Ntombi stuttered.

“Mama Kganya, where is your family? Are your parents still alive? If not, do you know where they are –”

“Hai, they are not dead, OK?!” Ntombi snapped, standing up from the chair.  “But they are dead to me. I want nothing to do with them.”

“Why? What happened?” Gogo Lesedi stood up and came closer to her.

“They threw me out like a dog just because I fell pregnant at nineteen and out of wedlock. They said I embarrassed them, so they threw me out in the streets. I was pregnant!” Ntombi broke out in tears.

Ntombi remembered her father packing her clothes and stuffing them in a small shopping plastic bag, calling her all sorts of names, while her mother stood there and did nothing. Her younger sister, who was only twelve, was the only one crying for her, asking her not to leave, but her father didn’t want to hear anything. Then when she went to that dog, whom she gave her virginity to because she believed him when he said he loved her and said she had a special place in his heart, he gave her R500 to “take care of it,” and also threw her out. She was all alone, in the dark. That was when she promised herself that the baby she was carrying would bring light to her life. That’s why she named the baby Kganya.

Luckily for Ntombi, she’d just finished her matric, and she had passed it well. She used the money that dog gave to her and took a taxi to Johannesburg. She got small piece jobs that lasted her till she gave birth, and after that she went to college. That’s where she met Gladys. Unfortunately, Gladys had to drop out of college because of lack of funds, and then she got pregnant.

Ntombi and Gladys had applied for the plots of land that the government was giving out to people in the informal settlements, and they got them. That’s why they lived so close to each other. Ntombi had not seen her parents since the day they’d kicked her out. She raised Kganya alone, and she did a damn good job of it!

“I see. I understand your anger, and I would absolutely feel that way too if my parents did that to me.” Gogo Lesedi hugged her. “But this is not for them, it is for your only daughter whom you love so much and you would do anything for.”

“But I am not ready to see them.” She cried in Gogo Lesedi’s shoulder.

“I will be with you – we will be with you, me and your daughter.” Gogo Lesedi pulled out of the embrace, and wiped the tears on Ntombi’s eyes with her thumbs. “We have to go and see them, so they can connect Kganya with her Elders.”

Ntombi nodded slowly. “They are in Free State – how soon can we go?”

“Today. Now. I have a bakkie that could get us there in no time.” Gogo Lesedi looked at her with those gentle eyes that she knew so well.

“OK, I will have to get a few things at my house.”

“Yes, of course, we will pass by it first.”

“What will we tell Kganya?” Ntombi asked, sniffing.

Gogo Lesedi gave her a cloth to dry her eyes and said, “Everything. There is no need to hide anything from her. She is a big girl now, she will understand. And the journey to Free State is long. It will give you time to tell her everything.”

Tell us:  What do you personally feel you have gained from knowing about your ancestors – or lost by not being connected to them?