Now that I am home, remembering Africa

I have been home now for two and a half weeks, and thought you all might like to know how the final days worked out, and about my trip home.  The last two days were spent on working with the herbs, and making muti.  Thursday morning, P. H. finally blessed all of my spiritual things; my alter pieces, all of the various things I had beaded, my bones, and the muti.  Once those things were blessed, I could pack.  Getting packed was a big relief.  I am not necessarily a good traveler.  I worry a lot before I actually get on an airplane.  Getting packed was one item off my list.  I had dinner with P. H. that last night.  I wanted to thank him for all he had done for me, and to let him know that I was/am grateful.  We sat eating in the surgery, and I told P. H. how much I appreciated what he had done for me, and my ancestors.  And I told him that although I did not graduate as a Sangoma, I did not think my ancestors were unhappy about it.  The way of the Sangoma, is not necessarily my way.  P. H. looked at me, and told me with a lot of conviction, that I would be back.  He said that I was right, I didn’t need to graduate to be complete, but that I would be back for the muti.  And when he said it that way, I could see myself coming back for the muti.  And if I came back for the muti, I might as well stay long enough to make the graduation thing happen too.  I am not making any promises, I just realized that this was a possibility that I had not thought of.  And then we talked of the bones.  P. H. gave me positions of how which bones landed where, and what it would mean.  We talked for a long time about the bones.  I told P. H. that I was disappointed that I was not better at them.  He told me to listen to my inner self, and the stories would come.  And then he told me that I would be better at reading them, than P. H. himself.  That statement took me off guard.  How could that be?  My bone reading is so primitive!  I have a long ways to go before I get the depth in a reading that P. H. has.  At this point, this seems like a pipe dream.  However, I trust P. H.  So, I must keep working with my bones.  And, eventually, we will become a well oiled team.

And, as the night continued, our conversation went on.  We talked about how the people who came to the homestead had reacted to me.  When P. H. saw his client, they were not always willing to be in his “treatment” room.  They preferred to work outdoors.  A lot of the time, I was in the treatment room.  I would come out with the muti that P. H. asked for, and I would see the looks on the client’s faces.  Their eyes would get big, and they would stare at me.  I would clap, and kneel before P. H., as I gave him the muti, and their mouths would hang open.  P. H. said he would laugh inside each time that would happen.  And then he would explain to them that I was a “Big Sangoma” from the

U.S.and I had just come for an upgrade on my skills.  I never knew what P. H. was saying, it was in the local language not English.  It has not been that long since apartheid was alive and well in this part of the world.  And even though things have changed with the laws, the attitudes of most whites towards the blacks is very much the same as it was.  So, seeing a white there was a shock.  And then seeing one who knew the ways of the ancestors, and also showed respect was sometimes just too much for P. H.’s clients.  Because I am not of that culture, I don’t think I truly fathom the impact of me being there and my behavior had on people.  It’s about seeing people in their divinity, and then following through with my actions.  It touches people profoundly:  much more so than I can even put into words.  But think back to the first time some one truly SAW you for who you are and they were OK with it, and remember what that felt like.  I didn’t think anything about what I was doing when I did it.  I was just being me.  And yet it had an impact on all of those people around me.  And then I heard the words P. H. had told the people.  That I was a big healer.  That’s the first time he had really told me what he thought of my skills.  I know that I had felt like we were peers, but I was just a junior peer.  I question my skills as a healer, I doubt my abilities.  So, even though I felt really accepted by P. H., I thought it was more on a personal level than on a professional one.  At that moment, I realized that P. H. accepted, and respected me on a professional level.  He had no time for the layperson, as he calls them.  If he did not respect me on a professional level, he would not have spent so much of his time just talking with me about everything under the sun.  And then P. H. said something that nearly broke my heart.  He said that now he was going to be lonely.  He would have no one to talk with him about muti.  Tears started to well up in my eyes.  I knew I could not cry, P. H. would not be OK with that.  He is not a demonstrative man.  That was as close to a good-bye as I was going to get.  And I also realized just how lonely he is; how lonely we all are on some level, those of us that walk this path.  Having the ancestors with me all the time has eased some of the loneliness, but it is still there.  I don’t feel comfortable or accepted by most people, talking about this kind of stuff.  That’s why our gatherings are so important to me.  Then I have people I can tell what is really going on for me, and they don’t take a step back, and start looking for the straight jacket.

So, my trip home was pretty uneventful.  I made it into more that it was, just because I am not the best of travelers.  I really do worry.  I went to the open market before I left, and bought a few more herbs.  Nduna (P. H.’s son) and I had to lay on my suit case to get it closed.  I began to worry that the zipper would break in route.  I left Nduna in Manzini, and he gave me directions to the airport.  I was a nervous wreck the whole drive, and I found the airport without even one wrong turn!  I wish I had been able to “Let go and let God”.  It would have made things so much easier.  I got checked in, no problems.  I turned in my rental car, and there the only problem I encountered happened.  I had rented from Avis, and when I picked up the car, I was told the cost was in the local currency.  When I turned in the car, I was going to pay it off in cash, and the cost went up about 8 times what I had been originally quoted.  I turns out, the first cost was in U.S. dollars, even though they assured me it was in the local currency.   I am working on that one.  I feel like there was a bait and switch going on, and I will no longer be doing business with Avis.  I will also be encouraging others to boycott them too.  Their behavior was not clean.

Once I was in the

Johannesburgairport, I had a seven hour layover.  I went into a restaurant and ordered a chicken wrap and potato skins.  I can not even begin to define just how good that tasted.  I could only eat about a third of what was served, but it was a little piece of heaven just the same.  Just a little piece of information about that airport.  There are no announcements over the loudspeaker about flights.  You have to read the leader board, and my flight loaded before it ever came up on the leader board.  Luckily for me, there were a few other people waiting for the flight too, so I knew that I had made it to the correct gate.  Once I was on board, the eighteen hour flight was just an eighteen hour flight.  I got stiff and sore in the seat, just like everyone else.  I wore my beads, and many of the black people recognized them as a healer’s, but they could not believe a white could be wearing them.  I had some interesting conversations.  Once we landed in

Atlanta, my nerves were shaken again.  I was picked to be searched by customs.  I had declared some biltong (jerky).  An amazing thing happened as I went through customs.  They asked me to find the item, which were in my carry on, and the took them (although I was told they were doing it because of hoof and mouth – cattle- and I had ostrich.  I decided not to argue.).  My checked luggage was not looked at, and I kept the locks on them when I rechecked them for the domestic flights.  I got into

Denver, and found my luggage without any problems, with the locks intact.  I hadn’t brought back anything that was a problem, all of the herbs had been pounded or chopped, but I didn’t want to have to explain.  I caught my shuttle to

Arvadawith no problems, and my husband’s cousin was waiting for me at the shuttle stop.  When I got home, the very first thing I wanted to do, was take a shower.  I hadn’t had one in four weeks.  But, the first thing I knew I had to do was to set up my alter, and unpack all of my sacred things.  So, I did and then went into the shower.  And then I went to a soccer game to watch my son play and to see my husband.  It was great seeing them.  And then, to sleep in my own bed again.  I slowly moved back into my own life.  This is all for now.  

Take care,  Shilo

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