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					CHAPTER FOUR
CATEGORIES OF ABANGASEKHO AND THEIR MODES OF OPERATION
This chapter extends the discourse on the protective functions of souls or abangasekho. The ways in which abangasekho appear in the lives of people, their unique qualities and their unique modes of operation are unpacked. The details of his chapter further

reinforce the notion of an ‘active’ soul that is central to the lives of abaNguni. The active nature of the soul or abangasekho underpins the authors’ conceptualisation of abangasekho as ‘entities of influence’.

The appearance of Abangasekho It is evident from the previous chapters that lives of abaNguni are greatly influenced by abangasekho. Their forms of influence vary. Their aims and purposes of such influence may also vary substantially. Some entities of influence may want to take permanent control of a designated human being while others may want to use a human being for a specific purpose or just occasionally. But having or not having influence on the family remaining behind, is not a distinguishing criterion as to whether a soul is ongasekho or not. It is worth distinguishing, however, that there are people who die and do not have any influence upon their remaining family whatsoever. Some die never to be heard of or felt. Others make their first appearance in a different generation from theirs, perhaps in a generation of great grand children. Their appearance to the living family would definitely come with certain demands. The way they make their appearance to the family differs. They may reveal themselves in dreams. They may also appear in daylight while one is fully awake. This occurs as a revelation. Obonayo may also be a way for them to make an appearance among their living family.

Making an appearance in dreams means that someone from a family wakes up with what is called a communicative dream after having been asleep. The sleep may be during the day or at night. A distinguishing factor as to whether a dream is communicative or a non28

communicative (just wandering of ideas in the imagination) is that the former has a direction, makes sense, is vivid and it changes the perception of the dreamer and those who would be told of the dream. Furthermore, when one has a communicative dream, one wakes up with a drive to tell that dream to someone who may be in a position to throw some light about its meaning. People who generally interpret dreams are practitioners of influence. Some communicative dreams are clear and do not need much interpretation. Others may need interpretation that would perfectly fit a situation that may currently exist. Details on dreams are presented in Chapter Nine.

When abangasekho make an appearance while one is awake, it means that they are very powerful and want to make sure that whatever they request is understood and is quickly attended to. When this happens, thoughts stop although one remains conscious. One would see a person making his/her way into a house, introduce him/herself and say what s/he wants. When one realises that it is a dead ‘person’ who has entered the house, one would not be alarmed in such a way that one is afraid and perhaps runs away because ones thinking would have paused. It is believed and argued that in actual fact, as per our perceptions as human beings, there is nothing that physically walks in the house, but ongasekho would conjure up an image of him or herself to the perceiver and one would believe that one has seen someone. This is different from a ghost. Details on ghosts appear in Chapter Five.

Another way of making an appearance for abangasekho as mentioned previously would be through obonayo. Obonayo is also a practitioner of influence. But not all practitioners of influence are ababonayo (plural form of obonayo, a spiritual screener). Before one visits obonayo, one may have some irregularities in oneself or ones family or a debilitating state, which may require some clarity. One may therefore decide to visit obonayo for clarity. Obonayo would then reveal whatever abangasekho want to relate to one when one notices such irregularities in ones life. One would then be expected to react accordingly. For instance, if one has to perform umcimbi, one must make arrangements for it to take place.

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It generally happens that when abangasekho appear, they say that they are in misery or suffering. A common case is when one dies. The soul may stay in the spot where it was separated from its body. When one for instance, is run over and killed by a motor vehicle, ones soul would stay in that spot even after ones body has been buried. The same thing may happen with one who dies at a hospital bed, the soul would stay there. There are many other examples as well. The common complaint they have is that they feel cold, naked, hungry and thirsty. They then stress that they want to be taken back home where the rest of human family members are. Again, there is a procedure that has to be followed first before anything is done on ongasekho who has made his/her appearance to his/her human family.

When ongasekho is to be collected, the person who is collecting him/her, with guidance of a practitioner of influence, would go to the spot where ongasekho died. They would bring ihlahla lomlahlankosi1 along. When they reach the spot, they would tell ongasekho to “ride” on the leaf. When they have given the instructions, they would then go back home. They are expected to refrain from talking to anybody, even amongst themselves or even if someone greets them. They will not also look back where they came from for the process will then be flawed. When they reach home, they would instruct ongasekho that they have reached home and that he/she must get off the tree. At emsamu2, where ongasekho would be placed, there would be a fitting arrangement of food and drinks. They would also instruct him/her to part-take of the food and drinks. Ongasekho may, if the whole process is successful, become idlozi of the family. Amadlozi may be categorised into two types. There are those who are referred to as amadlozi amhlophe (white) and those that are said to be amadlozi amnyama (black). The former are good and the latter are the opposite of the former. What determines goodness or badness of idlozi is, amongst other things, the personality of ongasekho during his/her lifetime while still a human being. If somebody was good, she or he can make a good idlozi and if the opposite was true, she or he would definitely become idlozi elimnyama (singular of
1 Ihlahla lomlahlankosi [sing.], amahlahla omlahlankosi [plu.] {noun} - A branch of Buffels Doorn. 2 Emsamu [from the noun umusamu] {adv.} - The very back of a main room in a home regarded as sacred.

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amadlozi amnyama). Also unresolved problems when one dies, make him/her an ineffective idlozi or a dysfunctional idlozi (idlozi without any power to impact on their living family).

It is evident when abangasekho appear in one form or another; the person communicated with has to act with urgency to respond to the contact. This may entail contacting obonayo, performing umcimbi and other requested activities. In a Western context, interpretations of psychosis and paranoia may be associated with phenomena described in this section. An individual from the abaNguni culture who reports these phenomena, who is otherwise integrated in his/her emotional functioning, needs to be understood within the abaNguni cultural context. Failure to do so will result in a chain of diagnostic and management decisions which would be catastrophic for the individual concerned.

Categories of Abangasekho

Amadlozi is a well-known and respected category of abangasekho, amongst the families of abaNguni. As stated in the previous chapters, they protect and bless their human families. In return some may only want to be remembered by means of umcimbi. There may be a general umcimbi done for all amadlozi of a particular family name. Others may require something more, for instance, a human being to become a practitioner of influence. Becoming a practitioner of influence is regarded as both a gift to human beings as it becomes a career, and a demand of abangasekho as they are able, through it, to meet their own personal goals. If they had a strong desire to have a spiritual influence on people while still humans, their goals would be fulfilled if the protected person becomes a practitioner of influence.

There is another category of abangasekho known as abalozi. Abalozi is a form of idlozi that has a kind of specialisation. It works using a chosen human being. It does and expects everything which idlozi does for and expect from their human families. The point of departure is that, idlozi will only work using a human being who is already a

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practitioner of influence viz. isangoma or inyanga. There would then be a special gift called abalozi afforded to that person. Abalozi specialise in umhlahlo3. (cf Chapter 10). There is also a category of isithunywa 4 in the classification of abangasekho. Isithunywa is not very different from idlozi in the sense that both categories look after the well being of their human families and they both demand that someone chosen by them in a family becomes a practitioner of influence. They both are "humanitarian" since they aim at solving spiritual problems of human beings without posing any form of discrimination. The difference is that unlike amadlozi, isithunywa would only require that a chosen human being in a family becomes a practitioner of influence in a stream of faith healing as opposed to. Imicimbi that are directed to isithunywa are done in a form of. Ilathi as opposed to umcimbi wobungoma5 or umgido6, umgubho kaShembe7 or an ordinary umcimbi directed to abangasekho, would require that izayoni with their leader, head the rest of umcimbi. Even people who attend ilathi8 would generally be izayoni. There are more details for ilathi in Chapter Seven.

There is also a group of abangasekho that is referred to as amandiki namandawo. They are also abangasekho in the sense that they also look after the well being of and make demands on human beings. Amandiki is male and amandawe is female. The main difference between them and amadlozi/izithunywa is that they do not require the

3 Umhlahlo [sing.], imihlahlo [plu.] {noun} – Although similar to ukubhula, focuses on lost items.

however, this mode

4 Isithunywa [sing.], izithunywa [plu] {noun} – A Faith healer’s source of power/guidence; a type of abangasekho, cf Chapter 12. 5 Wobungoma [adj.] - Pertaining to isangoma. 6 Umgido [sing.], imigido [plu.] {noun} - A special function of izangoma. 7 Umgubho [sing.], imigubho [plu.] {noun} - A function that is exclusive to called uShembe. the followers of the prophet

8 Ilathi [sing.], [amalathi [plu.] {noun} - A form of a function that is exclusive to izayoni.

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protected to become practitioners of influence. They only require umuthi – ukhamba9 of amagobongo. Once they have it via the targeted individual, they are appeased. But before they get it, they have powers to create havoc among human beings that must, on their behalf, have amagobongo.

There is also another category of abangasekho called imimoya. Imimoya is a group of abangasekho who generally like to satisfy their evil ends through human beings. They definitely do not care about the well being of their human families. In fact, they use those who have defaulted in one way or the other with the above-explained categories of abangasekho as the defaulters would not have the protection of amadlozi. Such human beings would have very abnormal behaviour. As a result of this type of influence, affected individuals present as phenomenologically mentally disordered. In short, they would not progress in life and when they die they would not became idlozi elimhlophe. There is a final category which entails human made influence. This is called izizwe10. Izizwe are usually spirits from alien tribes. Izizwe is human made influence. It is an attempt to imitate abalozi and idlozi when each speaks by means of overriding ones consciousness. Izizwe would attempt to do the same as well. This may appear as one way of robbing or deceiving people knowing that people are very desperate to get umhlahlo since a human with the powers of abalozi are very scarce. At times it becomes difficult to distinguish between one who is under the influence of izizwe and one whose idlozi has transcended or arisen. Izizwe make one speak and do things like one who is mentally ill. In fact one who is under the influence of izizwe at a given time can be pronounced mentally ill.

9 Ukhamba [sing.], izinkamba [plu.] {noun} – 1) An African traditional drinking container. 2) Also a type of medicine. 10 Izizwe [singular not applicable in this context] {noun} – One of the several variations of umhayizo. This condition is a human made influence mimicking idlozi or abalozi. This creation also speaks through ones body. A variation of umhayizo, cf chapter 13.

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Abangasekho are ever-present in the lives of abaNguni. They protect, they warn, they make demands for assistance, they demand special recognition via umcimbi and they require the protected to become practitioners of influence from time to time. On the negative side, some abangasekho are evil and create misery in the lives of their families. Once again, it is evident that nurturance of the soul which occupies the living body and constant recognition of the soul that has departed is central to abaNguni’s well-being.

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