Sangoma's Story, by Melanie Reeder
Melanie Reeder is most certain that her book, 'Sangoma's Story: The calling of Elliot Ndlovu', will help deconstructing the myths around traditional healing in South Africa.
Every pedestrian strolling along the side of the dusty road will recognise the dented old Isuzu truck, although the darkened windows conceal its occupant's identity Haphazard splatters of dried mud are flecked over the slate metallic finish, reflecting the colour of the darkening sky as a storm approaches from over the mountain peaks. The vehicle has an air of menace, stirring an appropriate reaction from the inhabitants of the Kamberg Valley, at the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountains. It's the KwaZulu-Natal number plate that gives the driver away: 'Malulek, it boldly announces, short for Maluleka, one who counsels and advises others; the contrast between the vehicle's ominous appearance and the occupant's intentions is reassuring. His reputation as a Zulu traditional healer precedes him as groups of barefoot children, farm labourers donning blue overalls and women carrying bundles of thatch on their heads stop to wave respectfully as Elliot Msawenkosi Ndlovu whizzes by en route to his home, in a cloud of dust. Throughout the 45-minute journey from the tourist hub of Nottingham Road in the Natal Midlands to the turn-off into Elliot's homestead, his umuzi in Thendela village, oncoming cars frequently flash their headlights in greeting, sometimes pulling over to allow him to pass them on the potholed and uneven road that winds its way through the pastoral farmlands. It's the only home he has known for a near half-century, but he still marvels at the beauty of the sweeping valleys and vast open grasslands. He spots a cobra ahead, squirming its way across his path and slows the van to watch as the serpent quickly disappears into the brush lining the road. Snakes are always a special sighting. They hold great symbolism for a sangoma, a Zulu traditional healer like Elliot. Seeing a snake is a comforting sign that his ancestors, the spirits of the deceased members of his extended family are close by. He points to a bird of prey the long-crested eagle with its telltale soot-black body and protruding aerial of feathers comically flapping in the breeze, perched on top of a creosote pole. 'If you see the same bird often it can be a sign of your ancestors, he remarks as his Isuzu bounces and squeaks along the poorly maintained pass climbing up towards the mountains. As he speaks, the thin dreadlocks falling just past his shoulders (long hair is an absolute necessity for a sangoma) cause frequent backward jerks of his head to flick the fine braids from his moon-shaped face. His home rests in an ancient valley, rich in history and fable that has seen many inhabitants coming and going over the millennia. An anthropological finding of stone hand axes in the Kamberg Valley places the earliest human occupation in the early Stone Age, 1.5 million years ago, but Elliot didn't need scientists to tell him this. He has always had an inkling that the rock faces and mountain streams of Kamberg are far older than even he can comprehend. The valley feels like a point of origin, a source of old and forgotten ways of living. Centuries of cohabitation and cultural sharing with different groups of Nguni speakers and the original inhabitants, the San, I have made his home a valley of diverse ancestry. He sees it everyday in the faces and traditional practices of his neighbours and friends. [...]
This is an excerpt from 'Sangoma's Story: The calling of Elliot Ndlovu', by Melanie Reeder.
Title: Sangoma's Story
Subtitle: The calling of Elliot Ndlovu
Authors: Melanie Reeder
Genre: Ethno Esoteric
Publisher: The Penguin Group (South Africa)
Cape Town, South Africa, 2011
ISBN 9780143026167 / ISBN 978-0-14-302616-7
Softcover, 15 x 23 cm, 232 pages, numerous photos
Reeder, Melanie im Namibiana-Buchangebot
'Sangoma's Story' has captured the essence of a modern Zulu healer and clarifies misconceptions about traditional healing in South Africa.