Izwi Labantu


Next Month (May 2013) Dr. Mkhize will be back on Izwi Labantu, a programme broadcast every Sunday Morning  ( 05h00- 05h30)  on Ukhozi FM, where different expects on Traditional/Cultural deliver  their talks on  various topics.

Dr. Mkhize has been known for his Metaphysical, Existential, Ontological and Phenomenological approach in all his talks in this slot. This time he will be focusing on: The African Philosophy of Self-Destruction.  He will be looking at Traditionalism, Modernity, and Postmodernity up until the era of Postmodernism.

He will also talk about his upcoming book, which be launched  Mid-May on Traditional Initiation  and Healing titled: Umsamo No Mhlahlo wezangoma.

The main question will be: What went wrong? What caused the Death of our Society?

SOAHA Logo Medium preview

South African Healers Association (SOAHA)

South African Healers Association (SOAHA) is a community of healers, spiritually, physical and intellectually, engaged in the task of influencing the development and support of various healing practices in South Africa and recognizes the spiritual elements of these spiritual, traditional, indigenous and natural healing practices. One common theme in research activities is that all relate to the accumulation of knowledge, whether scientific or unscientific, theoretical or practical.

This multifaceted initiative takes the basic aim of healing to be to contribute towards enhancing what is of value in life by means of various efforts respectively, and seeks to help solve our daily spiritual life problems.

SOAHA is a fully registered NON-PROFIT COMPANY (NPC), with the office of Company Registry in Pretoria, with the aim of registering all interested Multifaceted Healers Provincially, Nationally and Internationally for the sake of promoting African Healing through Research, Education and Publications.

SOAHA has identified Five Pillars within which it will operate:

  • Research and Education (Create cohesion and Relationship between Indigenous Healing and Modern Medicinal Healing Practices and Models.
  • Spiritual Healing and Transformation
  • Ancient Wisdom and  Interconnectivity
  • Connecting the Past to the Present to forecast the future
  • Connection of Indigenous Healing Models to the Modern Healing Practices

Its major objectives are:

(i)      To bring together all Spiritual, Physical and Intellectual Healers.

(ii)     To promote Western, African and Primitive Healing in South Africa.

(iii)    Be the voice of all Healers Registered with SOAHA  in  different  platforms  National and International

(iv)    Conduct Research on various problems that are facing our people to find healing solutions that will create life value to humanity.

(v)     Organize and arrange various seminar/Conferences for the benefit of our members.

(vi)    Run various academic programs  for the empowerment of our various members in their various ways of Healing

(vii)   Promote various forms of healing in South Africa.

(viii)  Create tolerance for various healing methods/systems as we find them in South Africa.

Membership is opened to all Healers, Traditional and Modern.

Contact Details:

Dr. V.V.O. Mkhize  (033-5691317) –


Umsamo : Umhlahlo Wezangoma

Isiphakamiso ngale ncwadi

Kuningi okudida abantu ngendaba yokuthwasa: ukuthi kuyini, kwaqalaphi, kumngena kanjani umuntu, njalo njalo. Kwandile nokucwaswa kwabantu abathwasayo noma abayizangoma. Abhokile namaqola akhwahla abantu ethi ayathwasisa. Baningi nabantu abathwasa ngokungeyikho noma bazame ukubalekela ukuthwasa ngoba bethi kuwubudimoni. Konke lokhu kudalwa ukuntuleka kolwazi olunembile oluyichaza kahle indaba yokuthi ngumuntu onjani othwasayo, uthwasa kanjani, uthwasiswa ngubani, uthwasa nini, kungani ethwasa, njalo njalo.

Le ncwadi-ke iyimvulamehlo ngoba iqukethe ulwazi olunzulu, olucwaningisisiwe olukukhanyisa kucace bha konke okumayelana nokuthwasa nobungoma ngokwehlukahluka kwakho. Okuhlaba umxhwele ngukuveza kwayo umlando ngomsuka wezinkolelo namaqiniso aphathelene nokuthwasa, amathongo, umsamo, njalo njalo emhlabeni wonke jikelele, kusuka le endulo eBhabhiloni lapho izinkolelo eziningi zavela khona.

Umbhali wale ncwadi, naye owedlula kukho ukuthwasa, osethwasisa abanye manje futhi oneziqu ngeziqu zemfundo ephakeme, akafuniseli ngabhale ngakho futhi akachemi uma ethula amaqiniso.
Injongo yale ncwadi-ke ngukuhlomisa umfundi ngamaqiniso abalulekile ngokuthwasa nobungoma, nokugwema ukukhohliswa yizinkolo ezithi indaba yokuthwasa ngeyabantu abamnyama kuphela, ngakho iwubumnyama.


Radio Programme – Umgungundlovu FM

Prof. Velaphi Mkhize, founder and President of Umsamo, and Author of Umsamo Books now runs a radio programme every Monday  10h00-12h00 on Umgungundlovu FM. Kindly tune in on 107.6 Megahertz in the PMB area and surroundings.

umsamo amathongo nemithetho elishumi

1. Book Launch : Umsamo Amathongo nemithetho elishumi kaNkulunkulu

The long awaited book: Umsamo Amathongo Nemithetho kaNkulunkulu will be available from all shops which sells our Umsamo Books. The book will be launched as follows:
Protea Imperial Hotel
Jabu Nldovu Street
Friday 28th Septermber 2012
13H00 – 15H00

Payment Method:
Kindly deposit money into:
Umsamo African Institute
First National Bank
Acc 62200602721

Bring along your slip as your entry ticket and ID. Book. (No cash will be accepted at the Venue)

For more infomartion our shops please visit and go to Publications.


Umsamo – The Hub of Ancestral Wisdom

(How do we meet the challenges of having Umsamo in our Modern Homes?)

Umsamo is a special and sacred place inside a traditional Zulu hut that is at once an altar and a repository (ithala) of a family’s precious and spiritually significant items.  Umsamo is also a physical manifestation of the interconnectedness and special bond that exists between the living and the dead. It is a  metaphysical and physical space  in which the living conduct family ceremonies, be they large or merely concerned with the simple act of burning the impepho/ incense. This centre provides direction and a meditation platform from which pleading and prayers are offered. These acts and duties are held not because Africans worship the dead, but simply because they want them to act as intermediaries between themselves and the Almighty. Although Umsamo as a term has a particular Zulu linguistic connection, the concept of a family shrine is not unique to Zulu speaking peoples or Africans for that matter.

Umsamo is founded upon, and governed by, four pillars: i.e. Umuzi, Ikhaya, Iziko and Amathongo.  Umsamo is the core of all the four pillars, and without umsamo these pillars are meaningless. and useless. Umsamo is always found, not inside the house, but at the back. It is demarcated by means of a small line of wall, thus indicating that in this place no one may simply just walk unless there is a pressing need. Ithala, which comprises the top part of umsamo, is where all the precious items are kept, along with those for future use and consumption.

Today thanks to the trappings of modernity and urbanization, it is no longer practical to have a traditional physical manifestation of umsamo in most households., The key challenge is how and where do we build an  Ancestral Hub for our connectedness with our Amathongo?  Certain African socio-cultural groups  have devised or identified special places like certain trees as their Umsamo. Meanwhile others choose special  places where they will always go and connect. The Shangaan peoples for example,  have what they call Gandzelo which is specially built at the corner of the ‘yard’ where at certain times they go and connect through l ‘ukuphahla’ – a spiritual way of arriving a at diagnosis or communicating with one’s ancestors.

In brief, I strongly suggest that so long as we alive we can all individually have our Umsamo, if we believe we need it. One can build Umsamo by either using an object like a plastic or enamel container or dish and add a particular muthi which will act as umsamo. Such muthi is especially for the ancestors and such a ‘dish’ is often located  somewhere in the house where  and its location is known only to the immediate family members of the household.

In conclusion, so long as we are called upon to erect Umsamo for our living-dead no manner of physical space should make this demand impossible. We are Umsamo and without Umsamo so much may go awry in our methaphysical universe.




African ‘Ukuthwasa’ and healing (ukwelapha) has been misconstrued and misunderstood for many years not only from the Western researchers but also from the people of Africa. Reason being that it has never been something taken as a special gift to those who happen to be the victims of it. Ukuthwasa and to be possessed by idlozi has been taken as something evil by its own people and even those who happened to be possessed have tried in many ways to escape from it by denying it.


Ukuthwasa is not something new, it has been there even during the times of our forefathers, the only difference now being that in the olden days or primitive times, it was more respected and was also properly done than it is happening today. Ukuthwasa is an acceptance of an Idlozi, which once lived before and because now that idlozi wants to come back as a ‘spirit’, and continue performing its duties, it gets into somebody with the body in the real world and start wanting to work through that body. Idlozi is an ithongo which possesses someone, and because it has now acted in this manner it gets called idlozi. This idlozi is governed by amathongo who are the custodians of ‘the umsamo or Isigodlo’ and also the owners of this ‘ubunyanga’ which is ‘impande’– the art of healing.

There are many signs which are indications of having the so-called ‘abantu abadala’ – the ancestors of Healing. Some people are born with, or in a veil of some sort which is an indication that this child has old people within her/him. Such a veil might sometimes indicate that such a child needs to be given a name of one of the ancestors, which might not be necessarily be that he/she must go and perform ukuthwasa. Most of the African Healers have misunderstood this. Besides this a person when at a particular age (which is determined by the ancestors themselves), will start seeing some images in her sleeping, sometimes experiences some dreams, which might be like: snakes, big river with clear water, sometimes will see people wearing an African attire, especially that of the Healers and so on. In some cases they will start talking to the individual either when awake or direct him/her in many things to be done.

Other people get sick and become thin others too fat, which is really abnormal, and others suffers from certain deceases. There will be many misfortunes at home if the person is refusing and not responding to the calling – to an extent that they can even bring bad luck to the whole family. When such symptoms are seen, there is nothing the family can do until the idlozi itself shows you where to go and be initiated.

The type of spirits.-imimoya yedlozi

There are two types of ubunyanga/imimoya mostly found in the Southern part of Africa. It is IsiNguni and Isindawe. IsiNguni is from the whole of Kwa-Zulu right up to Manguzi and Mhlab’ uyalingana. IsiNguni has two well known ‘spirits-imimoya’ – Umndiki and Umndawe, whereas IsiNdawe, which is from the North, West and Central parts of Africa, is Umnono. UMnono is not that well and much known in the Kwa-Zulu area hence it has become a huge problem for the African Healers in the area.  The reason is that it has its own special ‘herbs’-impande, which is only obtainable either from Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia and other countries in Africa. Isindawe came to Kwa-Zulu through the Shangaan people during the days of King Shaka. They are the only people who clearly know and understand it.

Umnono therefore cannot be healed with the IsiNguni ‘impande’ and vise-a versa.  UMnono is the spirits of the ‘abalozi’ (see below), hence it is the only type of healing which is rarely found and known in Africa.  The UMnono takes much longer time than the other IsiNguni spirits to mature. It can take between 10 – 15 years because it does everything on its own and one must be a good reader of the dreams and images as they operate through you.  Also if the person is possessed by Umnono and is not accepting the calling  as quickly as they want, they can come with very hush sentences which can easily leads to death.


Indiki is another confusing term. It is completely different from Umndiki which is an ancestral spirit. Indiki is a ‘sign’ which one may have as an ‘umuntu omdala’ – an ancestor with you in a particular form. Indiki can be that you have to inherit the name of one of your ancestor’s name either an Old woman (isalukazi) or an old man (ikhehla), or it can be that somebody in the family who died long time ago is within you, and he/she needs to be cleansed in order to be free. Some people take indiki as a kind of sickness whereas it’s not. Once consulted an African Healer (uhlanya), and identify what it is and what needs to be done, sickness can come to stop immediately.

The most common indiki is where a person is supposed to inherit someone’s name who was living in the family, an ancestor member (omunye wamathongo). Many African Healers when they see this they start initiating people whereas he/she is not suppose to be initiated and such person will never perform his functions as an Uhlanya.


Ukuthwasa-The Process

The Idlozi which has possessed you is called ‘isithunywa’. The Isithunywa is also governed by the owners of ‘ubunyanga’ and ‘isigodlo’ or ‘umsamo’. Isithunywa comes in many forms. There is isithunywa that operates through herbs –impande, the other operates through water, the other through, a prayer all depending on what the gift is. There are those who even mix both the prayer and the herbs-impande. There are people who heal through praying, others through water, others through herbs; it all depends on the type of isithunya that has possessed you. That is why it is not your choice where you can go and be initiated, but it’s them (amadlozi) who show you the person who will initiate you and also the place where you will be initiated. If it’s going to be in water they will show you and the whole process.

Ukuthwasa process has no specific time frame, as it is up to the isithunywa itself how fast she/he matures and when he/she has received his/her impande he/she requires in order to be matured. This is an ongoing process because even if when you have graduated (ukuphothula), the ancestors continue initiating you, which we call ‘ukukhula komsamo. ’ There are people who gets possessed by more than one isithunywa. You find that it’s more than one ancestor – idlozi, and these amadlozi they operate at different levels, and gets initiated at different times.  Once the whole process is completed they will now come or visit you and show you all the impande which you will be using during the healing process. These herbs –impande is a secret only for your healing practices.

During this process the most important and critical thing is the amaphupho-dreams, which they use most of the time communicating with you. It is these dreams-amaphupho which your initiator-ugobela must listen to because they are telling you and him the direction to be taken. It is painful that most of the time the initiator of nowadays do not listen to their –amathwasa’s– dreams-amaphupho, and this hampered the process of ithwasa.


The Healing Technologies

Izinhlanya use different types of Indigenous Healing Technologies. There are those who use water, the candles, others bones-amathambo or izinhlolo, and others use amagona-small calabashes (umndawe healers) whilst others just rely on the ancestors who tells them everything without being assisted by any technology. This is very much remarkable to the abalozi who mostly rely on the whistle which is head at the ‘umsamo’ of the hut (rondavel). It is always the secret of the ancestors (idlozi) which indigenous technologies one will make use of during the healing and consultation process.


A lot of confusion has been happening in our Traditional Healing especially in the usage of certain terminologies. The most wrongly used word is that of inyanga, which has now been used to refer to all healing people. Similarly with the word Isangoma, where it is used to refer to all people who are practicing African Healing and Spiritualism. I feel it is our responsibility to correct this. Inyanga or izinyanga (pl) are the owners of impande. It is those people who used to practice healing and died, and now come back and give those who are practicing all the knowledge and secrets about impande. They are the overseer’s of impande and inform the uhlanya how it is used and should be used. Izinyanga are the connectors between healing and impande spirits, and also between the living healing practitioners and the spiritual-isithunywa.

Isigodlo-the Hut where the healer practices

All African Healers have a hut called isigodlo. This hut is where the amadlozi and izithunywa resides and also a consultation room. Before the ithwasa finishes his/her ukuthwasa the idlozi visits him/her and show the ithwasa the type of isigodlo they would like to reside and work in. Others are the round huts (rondavel) others uguqa, both thatched with grass. This isigodlo is very critical in the life and all practices of the uhlanya. This hut has some special rules which must be obeyed now and again.



Ukuphothula and ukubonga izikhwama

Ukuphothula is when the ithwasa has to finally go back home. This does not happen through the instruction on the initiator but, the idlozi decides on its own. A goat/sheep (in some other cases) is slaughtered at the initiators place and a cow and a goat is prepared for slaughtering at the ithwasa’s place. This is an African Ukuthwasa Graduation.

It is a complete graduation but which does not say that the ukuthwasa is over. The idlozi will continue with its own secretive agenda only understood by them. There will be drum beats which will be played at the ithwasa’s place and dancing by other izinhlanya.

Later the ithwasa will have to slaughter another cow which will be shown by the idlozi to the ithwasa through the dream, its colour, sex and age (whether young or old).  Normally this cow is white, and it is for thanking the gift which has been given to an individual. This is called ukubonga izikhwama. Ukubonga izikhwama is an indication that this is a highest gift from the ancestors which is only given to a chosen few.

After this the person can now start practicing either as Isangoma, abalozi , umthandazi or any other form of healing.


In African healing nothing an ithwasa will do unless he or she has been ‘given to do that’ through a particular process. In the IsiZulu this is called ukuphathiswa. Before he/she gets graduated, he/she must go through the process of ukuphathiswa. It is also only the ancestors who comes through a dream either to your ugobela (initiator) or yourself and informs you that such process must be done and how.

The muthi which one will use during all his healing processes must be properly given to the ithwasa through a particular process. We are saying this because most people who happen to be initiated they do not go through this process and they then happen to be failures in their professions. This leads us to the ukuthwasisa as a process. No one can be an initiator unless he/she has been through this process of ukuphathiswa. The fact that you have graduated and can heal people does not mean that you can automatically be an Initiator (ugobela wokuthwasisa.)

There are people who practice the process of ukuthwasisa but they have never been through the process of ukuphathiswa which at the end of the day produces nothing other than non-performing healers.

Types of African Healers

African Healers in nowadays are called in many ways. The most common name is Traditional Healers or Isangoma. This has been distorted by white researchers in all their writings when referring to these people they use the term Traditional Healers or Isangoma, and we also happen to use them in such a wrong manner.

It is true that the term isangoma is not an appropriate term because it’s not everybody who has been in initiated is an isangoma.  Isangoma is one category under many forms of healing. The term for people who has been possessed by the idlozi is uhlanya. They are called izinhlanya because they see things we cannot see, they can talk to the people we cannot see, they can tell us what we may think it’s full of madness. Therefore uhlanya is a generic term like Doctor in the Medical profession.  What defines a person’s specialty is the manner he was possessed by the spirits.  Those who were possessed through dancing and music (ukugida nengoma) are called Isangoma. Those who were possessed through the process of the whistles (imilozi) are called abalozi.

In African Healing we therefore have the following types of izinhlanya:

(i) Isangoma – possessed and trained through dancing and music (ingoma)

(ii) Abalozi – Possessed and trained through the whistles. This type of healing is very rare and it takes a longer time than the ordinary training. Normally it is the ancestors who does the whole training themselves through dreams, and in dreams.

(iii) Umthandazi – They normally use a prayer and (amanzi).  Some of them use candles when they consult.

(iv) Umhlahli – This is a person who can tell you the name of the person who actually bewitched you. They are very few these days.

(v) Isanusi – This is the highest hierarchy in African Healing. Isanusi is a seer, foreteller, and a prophet who can tell people what will happen and when. This is the development of the abalozi.



Ukuthwasa and to be possessed by an idlozi is a very intricate process which needs to be fully understood before it is concluded that one needs to be initiated. There are symptoms   which might come as if one needs to go and perform the ukuthwasa whereas it’s not that but  it’s just indiki, here one must just take some concoction of muthi of some kind and such idlozi gets healed. So people must be careful about this. Many people have suffered from such bad conclusion.


Umsamo Global Society

Umsamo is establishing a worldwide global society of like-minded individuals to share ideas and participate in our vision. We have established an exclusive group on Google Groups , a new Facebook fan page , as well as a Facebook Group representing the interests of this elite global society. Kindly feel free to join our group on Google Groups as well as on Facebook , and participate in this open initiative ,  the details of which are listed below :



We thank you in advance for your participation. Enjoy your affiliation and make us proud !


Join our group on Facebook . . . .



ILOBOLO : Its Meaning and Process


Know the vocabulary, the dialect … Know the language!

Rational behind Lobola?

The first critical question is Why Lobola? Lobola is not the way we are taking it today and it was never meant to be what we are thinking of today.

Firstly: When Umnumzane and Umama gets children, they always wish to get a boy as a first born, for the continuation of the family name. Secondly, getting a girl, on the other side does not guarantee the continuation of the family name instead it symbolizes the wealth (ukungena kwezinkomo) ekhaya and also an outside extended relationship.

Thirdly, umnumzane for him to see that Umsamo is alive (uyaphila) and his ancestors are strong and present, he would see that by having many cattle (Umhlambi wezinkomo) and all his children get married. But no one wanted his/her child to get married to the family which is poor and not really well doing. That is why in the olden days most abamnumzane wanted their daughters to be taken by families with many cattle so that he can get more, and also as a guarantee that his daughter won’t starve emzini. So during those days people use to charge whatever number of cattle for ilobolo. There was no fixed number of cattle.

This process of paying lobolo with no fixed number of cattle, was revisited by Sir Theophilus Shepstone known as USomtsewu ka Sonzica, who actually so this tradition as an exploitation and he then fixed the number of cattle to Eleven (11), hence today we have lobolo as eleven cattle.


Ilobolo is cattle (regardless of number) paid by umkhwenyana for his umakoti. It is various cattle with their specific names and functions paid to the father and also to the mother of their daughter.

These cattle are a sign of pride and showing that ‘your daughter will never starve when she joins the family.’ It is ubumnumzane of the umkhwenyane’s father, that we are not that poor. Secondly, it is a token to the Amathongo (ancestors) that isibaya is growing, and as it grows it will create strong umuzi for them (amathongo). That is why these cows have various names and meaning. They are as follows:

  • Ubikibiki – This cow is given to the mother by umkhwenyana.
  • Ubhaqa – The cow given to the umakoti’s father in order to light the way
  • Umqholiso/Ingquthu – The cow given to the mother of umakoti.
  • Umumba – Cow also given to the Makoti’s mother, but part of the ilobolo
  • Imvulamlomo/Ingqaqhamazinyo – cow given to the father in order for him to talk to the abakhongi (people sent to pay lobola)
  • Imvula – is the cow that gets mentioned first before even paying the ilobolo.
  • Unozungeza – Part of ilobolo
  • Inhlabisamthimba – the cow that gets slaughtered on the wedding day
  • Isibhoma – cow that also get slaughtered on the wedding day.
  • Ibheka – additional cow.

(Remember that these cows in some other areas are all collectively called AMABHEKA)

The other two cattle just accompany these cows; hence we say (Umakoti akaqedwa). That is why people do not pay all the ilobolo, because of the belief that one day umkhwenyana will be of help to the family (umkhwernyana isiphuzi sokuhquzula)


All the time when we talk of ilobolo, we always confuse it with Izibizo. Izibizo is just what the mother wants from umkhwenyana, and it has no prescription, but the mother uses her own discretion. It is the conversion of the inkomo called Ubikibiki. Today most people call these izibizo ubikibiki, which is the main cause of confusion. Once umkhnwnyana has paid these cows, he can request for the date for the wedding. We must therefore never confuse ilobolo, which is cows and izibizo.

Ilobolo is not a gift or thanking to the parents of the daughter for raising her up.


Ilobolo is a two way process. It is the process governed by the amathongo, as the belief is that to have people coming and initiate ilobolo is a gift from the ancestors. Umakoti is a gift to umkhwenyana and his family to such an extent that the belief is that umakoti is not yours as umkhwenyana but is for your father. Also on the side of umkhwenyana, you are unmkhwenyana of the izalukazi zase mzini.

As umkhwenyana pays these cows, there are also cows which get given to umakoti by his father on the day she leaves her family.

These cows are:

  • Umbeka – the cow that get given to umakoti to slaughter it when arriving at emzini.
  • Imbeleko – the cow also given to umakoti, saying that it will be slaughtered for her children once she is there.
  • Umthothongo – the cow that gets given by the father to umakoti, on behalf of the ancestors to always look after her at emzini.
  • Isiqodo – the cow that is paid by the umakoti family for slaughtering on the wedding day.

Besides these there are cattle which also get slaughtered on the wedding day paid by both umakoti and umkhwenyana:

They are:

  • Ibhoma
  • Ishoba/Inhlabisamthimba

Ilobolo is an issue between the two families. The first person who happens to know that there will be abakhongi (representatives from the umkhwenyana) coming, is the mother of the daughter. The father is always kept in the dark all the time. He will see people sweeping the yard, doing all the cleaning, but he will never ask.

On that selected day, abakhongi will arrive early in the morning and shout at the gate by saying ‘sizocela isihlobo esihle’. It will be then where the father will know for the first time. But, even though, he will never attend to those people alone, but will call his brothers, and the neighbours to come and listen. When abakhongi are shouting they will be mentioning these cows, by their size, their gender and their colors. When inside the house they will be asked to repeat what they have been saying.

The first cow that will be requested will be iMvulamlomo for the father. It is only then when the father will start talking. The father will call all his daughters and ask the abakhongi to point at the woman, once that is done, and then negotiations will start.

The elders will carry this work until up to the end. The two: umakoti and umkhwenyana have no say what so ever in the whole negotiation process. We must remember that, it is only the elders that can represent the Amathongo and not the youngsters.

Where Twala says the elders communicate with the ancestors when lobolo is paid does not happen at the beginning, but that is a different process which happens during the acceptance time and also during the wedding time.


It is mentioned in the article that some people say they do not need paying lobolo because they have been together for a long period. Also other people do not want to pay lobolo because of the fear that their marriage will not last long. What makes those marriages not to last it’s because of certain slaughtering which were never fulfilled. We must understand that, the marriage between two people in an African Culture, is not marriage unless is blessed by the amathongo. Such blessings are done through various rituals, where either a goat is slaughtered or a cow for the inyongo to be used for either umakoti or umkhwenyana.

These are the goats which get slaughtered during the ilobolo process:

  • Ilongwe – slaughtered after accepting the cattle
  • Ukucola abakhwenyana – slaughtered for abakhongi as sign of acceptance
  • Imvuma – slaughtered to accept umkhnwenyana

It must be understood that these processes differ today from place to place. But even though, it is these goats’ inyongo which connects umkhnwenyana and amathongo, also umakoti and amathongo.

During the wedding other cows gets slaughtered where their izinyongo are used as symbol of connection.

Those who say their marriage will never last, it won’t last if these processes were never done.


Lobolo is a problem in our era because we do not have people who have a clear know how of what it is, and why was it or is it still being practiced. Lobolo, has more value that just a mere practice. We must always put it into a context whenever we talk about lobolo, and not just discuss it in isolation.

Today we are confusing ilobolo, which are cattle and izibizo which is just goods – , and something else. It is these izibizo where people start doing their gambling, which is conducted very badly.

Customarily Zulus consider marriage as an opportunity through which new bonds are formed between two families in the main, that of the bride and the bridegroom. The process of ukulobola, to pay the bride price in brief, is a critical stage in which the symbolic and material gestures of the coming together of these two families is realised. Often, a great deal of pomp, ceremony and robust negotiations accompany this custom. Although historically the lobolo ritual predates colonialism, ‘the Europeans who codified Zulu law and the missionaries, regarded lobolo as being in the nature of a business transactio in which a fixed price had to be arrived at,’ so argues social anthropologist Absalom Vilakazi in his celebrated book on aspects of Zulu culture and tradtions, Zulu Transformations. It is in the context of this particular historical moment in Natal that saw then governor Sir Theophilus Shepstone uSomtsewu as Zulus called him, impose a figure of 11 cattle as a standard for ilobolo.

By doing so, Shepstone was deliberately distorting an otherwise noble practice as part of a bigger and nefarious agenda of depleting the cattle herds of Zulu men who otherwise saw no need to pay various demeaning taxes nor submit to the needs for cheap labour at the time. To refer to Vilakazi again: ‘By Zulu customary law, the very essence of lobolo was its indeterminate character, for it was part of the gifts that pass to and fro between the contracting families as long as the marriage persists. The izibizo are part of this general pattern.’

To return to the matter at hand, the following points are worth considering :

  1. Assuming that a woman is getting married for the first time, her lobolo rites often comprise sending a delegation from the future bridegroom’s party who start a process towards paying all 11 cattle to the future bride’s family.
  2. Izibizo zikamama or her mother’s customary dues are paid as part of the lobolo process.
  3. Before she is allowed to join her new family, a special cow called udondolo is offered.
  4. She is then anointed with sacrificial bile to mark her new family status, more so that she is now no more a member of her original family.
  5. Should she divorce or her husband die, for her second marriage lobolo is not required.
  6. Instead, a token is given to her outgoing in-laws.
  7. Since traditionally Zulu and other African societies frowned the idea of a divorce, the widow or a divorced woman can be paid whatever that can be negotiated by the two parties without the involvement of her direct parents as she no longer belongs there.
  8. Thereafter either a goat or a cow is slaughtered to mark her new family status.
  9. As is the case in many cultures, in the final analysis, the failure or success of any marriage mainly depends on the two people who have entered matrimony.
  10. In conclusion, although various pressures and influences of modernity and socio-economic conditions have brought both distortions and innovation to the lobolo custom, in general, the practice still constitutes the most preferred, revered and recognized gesture of cementing the marital bond and calling upon the ancestors and God to bless it.



Beyond Academic Reality

Dr Velaphi Victor Mkhize, who is the second son of Ntombencane’s three sons, was initiated into unified-life and spiritual madness (ukuthwasa) on the 26th January 2006. He entered the process of initiation of the spiritual-soul (intwaso) in 2003. He suffered, surrendered and became unified in 2006. He is currently a Spiritualist, and a Seer – a Zulu ‘uhlanya’

His gift and honour of initiation (isipho sokuthwasa) is that of ‘umndawo’ and ‘abalozi’

In his healing he uses Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Technologies and Ancestral Wisdom. He is currently busy with the Book: “… the Hands of the Ancestors –from Velaphi to Bhedl’indaba” where he is detailing the whole story on this experience.

Umsamo African Institute is a result of such an Ancestral Call which was given in a dream.