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Contextual Family Healing (Therapy)

Umsamo’s Centre for Family Contextual Healing / Therapy : Explained


We live in an age of anxiety, fear of violence and questioning of fundamental values. Confidence in traditional values is being questioned and challenged. We all go to healers of various kinds because of problems we are experiencing in our daily lives not knowing that all what we are we inherited from our families which is immediate and extended families as far as our ancestors of generation to generation from both the maternal and paternal side. Therefore, you are the “mate-paternal” product.

Contextual Healing

The fundamental design for contextual interventions is based on two convictions: (i) That the consequences of one’s person decisions and actions can affect the lives of the people who are significantly related to him and (ii) that satisfactory relating for one person is inseparable from the responsible consideration of consequences for all of the people to whom he or she is in significant relationship. The term “context” means consequences that flows from person to person, from generation to generation, and from one system to its successive system. It is the dynamic and ethical interconnectedness (Umsamo/Inkaba)- past, present and future that exists among people whose very being has significance for each other.

The consequential nature of relationships is ontological, based on the very fact of being. Family relationships are empowered by the fact that the members are connected through Inkaba/umsamo to each other by birth. This context and relationships starts from the relationship between the mother and the fetus.

The term “context” offers inescapability of intergenerational consequences of relationships.

Contextual healing aims at interventions based on the understanding of the fundamental connections between formative and all later relationships.

The contextual healing/therapy is concerned with the inner structure of close trustworthy relationship, what Burber calls genuine dialogue.

The Role of Responsibility

It is easy to overlook the fact that children are obliged to pay the price of adult freedom from responsibility. It is children who will inherit the cost of poor parenting, indifferent education, hypocritical values, vindictive intergroup traditions, alienation and a lack of trustworthiness and stability in failing nuclear families and their alternatives. Children are captive legatees of past and present behavior.

Realities of Contextual Healing

The questions we ask are:

(i)   Where do I come from?

(ii)   Who am I?

(iii)   And Where am I going?

We must understand that there will always be the consequences of the past for the present and the future.

Dialogue between the Person and the Human Context

Each generation gives to the next one. Here offspring remain accountable to life or destiny as a whole for benefits received from parental and ancestral generations. Each generation gives to the next one. Therefore, adequate or responsible parenting is the chief dynamic principle in the intergenerational order of being. It is the cornerstone of survival and the matrix out of which inter-human justice grows and flows.

The dreams and Visions

Dreams and Visions are means and channels of communication between us the Living and the Living Dead. They are the bridge between the two worlds of the Living and the Living Dead. It is therefore critical and important that if you heal someone you must open for the dreams and visions to occur, that means Idlozi/ithongo have an access to the person and through those dreams explains its problems and how healing should go about. Therefore, healing is not about healing the body of a person in front of you but its about healing the Mind, Spirit and the Body, that is ‘holistism’ but body as an ontological phenomenon of accessibility to the two-metaphysical phenomenon’s which is the spirit and the mind.


The School of EMlambomunye

Isigodlo SaseMlambomunye  (The School of EMlambomunye)

IsiGodlo SaseMlambomunye, (School of uMlambomunye) is under Umsamo Institute and South African Healers Association. This School (Isigodlo) is mainly for African Healing, Counseling and advice on African and Traditional Wisdom and Values.

We are a school (isigodlo) that works through Dreams and Visions ( Amaphupho nemibono). All what we do we open up for your  Ithongo/Idlozi (Ancestors) to communicate with you once you have been with us and have done what was required during the Ukuhlola process.

For all the services we offer go to and visit Services.

Locations of our Isigodlo (School)

We are just 19 km outside Pietermaritzburg towards Greytown. Whether from Durban or Johannesburg when you approach Pietermaritzburg City take the road that will leads you to Greytown Road. You will drive on that road until you see Wartburg/Tongaat Road sign and pass that, the next road sign will be Albert Falls Dam and D73. Take D73 which is a gravel road and you will be driving facing the East. Drive until you see Valley Farm on your left just opposite will be Umlambomunye, with Thatched huts.

Working Days and Times

Weekdays:         Tuesday-Thursday-Friday 08h00 till 17h00

Weekends:         Saturdays:           08h00-17h00

Sundays:              08h00-15h00.

Gate closes as from 11am Tuesday-Sunday.

Holidays:            Like Sunday.


The consultation (Ukuhlola) fee is R200. All other fees come up once consultation process (Ukuhlola), been done, the core of the problem has been determined and what sort of healing is needed.

Always call and arrange Tel 087 110 0555 between 08h00 – 17h00. (no calls will accepted after 17h00)

We do not accept any Electronic communication i.e. Cellular, Emails etc unless you have been with us we can communicate with emails only.


The Global Perspective of Umsamo

Umsamo is a purely African epistemology that seeks to question the current Euro-American hegemonic epistemology founded on the tyranny of abstract universals and recover de-centred and suppressed knowledges and wisdom from the Global South in general and Africa in particular. It also implies reading and interpreting the empire and the world from the margins and borders between hegemonic and dominant forms of knowledge. It is a subaltern epistemology in and of the Global South focused on unpacking how European modernity overshadowed other modernities, silences other knowledges and re-shaped the non-Western world into its present condition of mimicry, weakness and subalternity, particularly the African.


Umsamo is a source of a long “journey – the goal of which is the union with the source of Man’s being – the Ithongo. To reach that goal Man must first pass through all experiences the Cosmos affords, and must shake off all accretions accumulated on his descent from individualised Spiritual Mind into grossest Matter. To do this, Man is born and born again, for his physical body dies, as do his lower mental principles; only his higher mental principles which are akin with the Ithongo survive from age to age, retaining throughout the Cosmic Cycle the individuality bestowed upon them at its opening”.


Umsamo seek to liberate and decolonize our minds from colonial modernity and restores us to our nature and ecology.  We are challenged to see reality in a new way. We simply cannot carry on with the current dysfunctional way. We simply seek the acceptance, justification and celebration of pluralism—especially the pluralism of knowledge systems. We simply want coexistence of different cultures and to be treated equally. We demand the recognition and emphasis of the importance of context and of culture-specific notions of locality, space and time in planning and development.

Indigenous people, wherever they live, demand that all forms of knowledge and wisdom are valid and should co-exist in a dialectical relationship with each other. Traditional knowledge and ancestral wisdom and technologies should not be “museumized”, and every citizen of any given country is a scientist in his/her own way. Each layperson is an expert, in at least what matters to them. Science should help the common man and woman, and all competing sciences should be brought together into a positive heuristic for dialogue, and this is what Umsamo strives for.

Umsamo insists that all species, peoples and cultures have intrinsic worth, integrity, intelligence, and identity, and as such should not be manipulated, exploited or disposed. As members of the earth family, we are interconnected through the planet’s fragile web of life. All beings have a natural right to sustenance, and all members of the earth community, including humans, have the right to sustenance – food, water, habitat, security of ecological space.


Man, from the African perspective, as Umsamo also believes, is essentially a spiritual being. In other words, the spiritual is as much a part of reality as the material and there is a complementary relationship between the two, with the spiritual being more powerful than the material.


Umsamo believes that religion, worldview, culture and philosophy of life, mean the same thing in African classical thought and are the source of human development principles that enable an African people to coexist with nature and have harmony with all things in the universe.


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.


Finding Your Identity

Part II – Finding Your Identity, given your understanding of the nature of Amathongo

The biggest challenge facing an African Child in the present era is to find his/her identity. Such identity is being searched in many ways, others through various religions, and others through various ritual practices.
Most African people today are so much drowning in various religions. There are those who are trying to find meaning of life in Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. All these are in search of the so called ‘the living spirit’.
The word ‘ spirit’ is used in the Bible in several different ways – the Spirit of God, the spirit of man, and the whole realm of ‘spirits’, good or evil. In the Old Testament ‘Spirit of God’ is one of the ways in which God’s action may be mentioned without actually making the anthropomorphic statement that God did this or that. Thus the ‘Spirit of God’ likes the Word and the Wisdom of God, becomes a periphrastic description of God’s initiative and action in the creation, providential ordering, redemption and eschatological deliverance of the world as a whole and of Israel in particular.
Our current modern difficulty is: do the dead so-called Ancestors also become ‘living spirits’ after death?

The answer is YES, they become powerful ‘spirits’ after death. Taking the Bible as our point of departure, in the Bible persons are not thus separate and distinct; they flow into one another. A man lives in his sons, who may receive a portion of another man’s ‘spirit’ and thus may in some sense become that other man. A man may reappear in history as another person, who, though he is not the same person, is nevertheless in some way identified with him. Linking up this with the Bible, a good example is that of Elija who in the biblical tradition becomes almost the same person as Elisha; the biblical way of expressing this is to say that a double portion of Elija’s spirit is upon Elisha (11 Kings 2.9; cf Deut. 21:17), or that ‘the spirit of Elija dost rest on Elisha’ (11 Kings 2.15; cf Ecclus 48.12). Elija acts through Elisha.
When the Spirit of Yahweh comes upon Saul, he prophesies after the manner of the ecstatic prophets and – very significantly – is ‘turned into another man’ (1 Sam; 10.6, 10 ) Micah is contrasted with the false prophets because he is genuinely ‘full of power by the spirit of the Lord’ (Micah 3.8). Even Jesus himself is recorded attributing the prophetic words of David (Ps 110.1) to the activity of the Holy Spirit (Mark 12.36).
Therefore God gives words to his prophets through the operation of HIS Spirit.

In today’s lives we see many people being prophets, ‘Spiritual Healers’ in various ways. Those ‘spirits’ coming from their past forefathers/grandmothers and we start calling them Izinyanga, Izangoma, Abalozi, etc.

This working of the Spirit amongst men is by no means confined to the sphere of prophecy: the Old Testament attributes to the Spirit such things as Joseph’s skill as a ruler (Gen 41.38); Joshua’s military genius (Num 27.18) the Craftsmanship of Bezallel and Oholiab (Ex 31.2-6); and Moral excellence (Pss 51.10f); 143.10). The same is evident to some of our great leaders, who attribute their leadership skills whether in Business or in Life as powers of the Spirit coming from their ancestors.

An African life is a constant apprehension of the supernatural powers of the Spirit of the Ancestors, who are living in us, it may be described as walking by the Spirit, being led by the Ancestral Spirit, or living Spirit ( Gal 5.16, 18, 25; Rom 8.4, 14).

It is the very same Spirit which is the Spirit of Power, enabling Christians to perform deeds beyond their own Strengths ( 11Tim 1.7; Acts 1.8; 10.38; Rom 15.13; I Cor 2.4; Eph 3.16)

The belief by African people in the ancestors and how they value them is not taken from the vacuum, but has this kind of history, which we have forgotten but are trying hard to bring forward as the Umsamo African Institute in researching on it and its Wisdom.

Ancestors are therefore real Spirits.

Go back to Part I – Please click here to go back to Part I – The Nature of Amathongo


The Nature of Amathongo

This is a Two-Part article. Part I of this article is about the Nature of Amathongo, while Part II is about Finding Your Identity, given your understanding of the nature of Amathongo.

Part I follows next (The Nature of Amathongo) :

Luisah Teish, author of the book Jambalaya, states “As we walk upon the Earth, our feet press against the bones of the Ancestors on whose shoulders we stand.”
This is the most powerful statement about the Ancestors, whom we call Amathongo (plural of Ithongo) in the IsiZulu Language. Sometimes we refer to these people as Amadlozi (pl. of Idlozi) which means something different from amathongo. Idlozi is the ‘spirit’ that possesses a person to become an African Uhlanya (healer), whereas Ithongo is a dead person whom we believe that he is not dead but alive in the land of the ancestors (kwela baphansi).

Malidoma Some in his book The healing wisdom of Africa about ancestors says: “Ancestors are at a disadvantage because they know how to improve things and yet they do not have the body required to act on what they know. We are at a disadvantage because although we have bodies we often lack knowledge to carry things out properly. This is why spirits like to work through us; the person with a body is an ideal vehicle to manifest things in this world. It is important to understand that when we feel that something is missing in our life, when we feel somehow disconnected or displaced, that these feelings are a sign for us to repair our connection with the world of ancestors and spirits.”

Amathongo are part of us, and people who happened to live with us on this earth. When we bury the dead, we are only burying the body, but not the spirit because the spirit continue to stay with us and they stay at their special place called Umsamo, an African Ancestral Shrine.

One of the most effective ways to connect with Ancestors is to set up an Ancestor umsamo (altar or shrine). Doing so provides us with an invaluable tool to help focus our attention and awareness of their presence in our lives.

These Amathongo are honored by doing various rituals or providing food at certain times. How you honor and revere your Ancestors is a personal thing. At your umsamo you can pray, talk, sing, chant, cry, meditate, recite poetry, etc. You can whisper or shout to them the most intimate details of your life. There is no right or wrong way to communicate with them and pay your respects. The important thing is that you do, and that you are sincere and genuine. It must come from your heart! In return, the Ancestors will provide guidance, encouragement, and support. In time, your relationship with them will grow and you may find that you look forward to a daily commune with your Ancestors. After all, its family!

We have been talking about the ‘spirit’, saying that our dead people we call ancestors are the living spirits and continue living like that. We worship them as spirits that bring guidance, wisdom and prosperity in our lives.

Part II – Please click here to proceed to Part II – Finding Your Identity