The bakkie stopped at the gate. They had arrived. It had been a long journey from Gauteng to Free State. It was nearly sunset now.

“It is here,” her mother said.

Kganya’s mother had told her everything along the way. They’d both cried. Kganya couldn’t believe that people could be this cruel to their own flesh and blood. But she was proud of her mother for what she had accomplished along the years, especially for raising her this well. She could have chosen to “take care it,” as her father had suggested, but she didn’t. She was a true “mbokodo”.

They opened the gate, which was made of planks that were starting to rot, and walked to a small house a little distance away. The yards here were bigger than the ones she was used to in the townships. People there had big houses, but on smaller yards that could barely accommodate them, here it was vice-versa.

“Ko-ko hae!” Her mother knocked.

“A-he, le kae?” A thin, but tall, woman came out.  Her head was covered with gray hair.

She was an old version of her mother. Kganya could tell on the spot that that was her mother’s mother, her grandmother.

As soon as her grandmother set her eyes on her mother, Kganya saw recognition in both of their eyes.

“Oh, Ntombifuthi!” her grandmother cried, with her arms outstretched to her mother.

Kganya’s mother hesitated a few seconds, but when Gogo Lesedi nodded at her, she went to her mother’s opened arms, and they embraced.

“Is it really you, my child?”

“It is me, Mama.”

It felt weird to Kganya to hear her mother call another woman “mama.” It reminded her that once she was just a girl, just as Kganya was now.

“Come in; come inside,” her grandmother invited them all inside the house, after the warm, emotional hug. “Excuse the mess, I didn’t expect visitors.”

“It’s OK, Mama,” Kganya’s mother said, taking a seat near the door.

After settling down, Kganya’s mother introduced Kganya to her mother.

With a big smile, her grandmother said, “She looks like you, Ntombifuthi. Look at that nose. That’s a Bataung’s nose.”

Kganya blushed.

“Where’s Papa?” Kganya’s mother asked.

“Oh, your father passed away last year, a year after his mother, ” – Kganya’s grandmother turned to Kganya with a smile – “your great-grandmother.”

Kganya looked at her mother, to see if there was any hurt there, but she couldn’t see any.

“He was sorry, you know, Ntombifuthi? So am I.” Her grandmother cried again. “We had looked for you all over the Frey Stata, but we couldn’t find you. But it was as if he knew that you would come back, because he asked me to tell you that from the bottom of his heart, he was sorry for kicking you out like that.”

Kganya’s mother cried too. Gogo Lesedi rubbed her back.

Composing herself, Kganya’s mother said that she forgave her father.

After a few minutes of catching up with each other a little, Gogo Lesedi cleared her throat to get everyone’s attention.

“Mama Ntombi,” Gogo Lesedi turned to Kganya’s grandmother. “We are here because we need your help.”

“What kind of help, my child?”

“Kganya here needs to connect with her Elders so we can proceed with her initiation. The conflict between you and her mother disconnected her from them. She is in great danger of the Dark Souls if it doesn’t happen soon.”

“Kganya also has a gift of interpreting with the Elders?” Her grandmother turned to her with a face filled with what she could describe as wonder.

“Yes,” Gogo Lesedi answered, doubtfully.

“Your great-grandmother I was telling you about, she also had a gift. It all makes sense now!”

“What makes sense?” Kganya’s mother asked.

“Your grandmother,” Kganya’s grandmother turned to Kganya’s mother, “She was living in Lesotho. When she was close to dying, she asked to be brought here so she could tell your father and me some important message. She said someone with great powers would come to this house to fix what’s broken in the family. She also gave me a plastic and told me to give it to this person because it will help with fighting the evil forces.”

Kganya was speechless.

Her grandmother stood up, and went inside a room that Kganya figured must be the bedroom.

“What could it be?” Kganya didn’t ask anyone in particular.

“I don’t know,” her mother replied.

“Here it is.” Her grandmother returned with a black plastic bag in her hands.

“She said not to open it. She said the person who would come is the one who should open it. So, here.”

Kganya took the plastic bag. She looked at Gogo Lesedi, then her mother. They both nodded at her softly.

She opened the plastic bag. There were white and yellow shawls inside. She took them out one by one and put them on the table. There were beads, too, underneath, also in white and yellow.

“Wow, these are the colours of your family.” Gogo Lesedi showed the beads on her neck. “Mine are red and white; yours are white and yellow. Put them on.”

As Kganya was putting them on, she started feeling dizzy, and it got dark.

Tell us:  What items of dress make you feel connected to your cultural roots, and do you enjoy wearing them or do you find them old-fashioned?