Archive for ukuthwasa

Thwasa – a definition

Posted in Explanations with tags , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2012 by White Zulu

As mentioned in the article on the initiate sangoma being fired from her workplace, here is the first of the explanations:

An ithwasa is a person whose state is best translated by the term ‘initiate’. The root of the word, -thwas-, has the verbal meaning of “emerge for the first time (as a season or new moon)” as well as “become possessed by a spirit (as occurs during divination)”. 

In the applied form ‘ethwasa’, the verb also means “show signs of a changing state, as by spirit-possession to become a diviner or doctor”.

In another form of the root, intwasa is the hlonipha (need another explanatory blog here) term for inyongo or bile. Bile or inyongo in Zulu medicine has similar associations to choler in the Galenic system of humours, and is quite often spiritually significant.

So an ithwasa is, linguistically speaking, a person emerging from a chrysalis, on the path to becoming an adept channeller of the amadlozi (explanation to come). A person who is in this state is particularly vulnerable to ubuthakathi (to be explained) and possession by amandiki, and so must burn impepho (also to be explained) and chela (sprinkle protective medicine) in the areas in which he or she works and lives.

An important point here is that ukuthwasa, the process of initation into ubungoma (the practice and traditions and essence of isangoma), is a strictly controlled and ritualised process, and is at no point associated with the western negative conception of ‘witchcraft’ (or the isiZulu concept of ‘ubuthakathi’). 


Initiate isangoma fired from work

Posted in News Stories with tags , , , , , , , on March 29, 2012 by White Zulu

Expect an ‘explanation’ blog about this one soon.

One accused of witchcraft shaking in anger

Mlungisi Gumede

Isolezwe 29 March page 16

A woman from KwaNdengezi is angry and confused, having been removed from where she was working at Elangeni FET College in Pinetown, and sent to KwaDabeka because she was accused of practicing witchcraft and of burning impepho at work.

Miss Thandi Mtshali (35) was a security guard and she cooked food for the learners at the institution in Pinetown. She disputes these allegations, saying that she did use to burn impepho and that she spoke with the amadlozi at the school, and that she used to sprinkle protective medicine in the yard of the institution in the morning.

“I know who the people are who have been fanning these lies into flame because they hate me,” is what she said.

Miss Mtshali complained about the way that the institution’s authorities had acted about this issue.

“This issue has upset me greatly, being removed from work on charges which have no basis,” she said.

She said that she is a person who is afflicted by an idlozi, as she is currently an initiate isangoma, and furthermore it happened that her idlozi came upon her at work and ended up doing things of which she herself was not aware.

“I don’t deny this, that at my previous place of employment (before I was hired at Elangeni) I burnt impepho because my idlozi troubled me greatly,” she said.

She said that at Elangeni also it happened that the idlozi came upon her with its rough rasping breathing noises, adding that when there was something which had upset her it arose greatly and started to speak so that other people could hear it.

“When they took the decision to remove me from Pinetown they took me to KwaDabeka and told me that the children were now afraid of me because I was continually making rough rasping noises and because they had heard voices of people whom they could not see,” she said.

Miss Mtshali said that when they removed her from her position as a guard of the children they said that they would hire her to clean the institution, but she refused because she said that this would be a demotion from her previous position. She added that they finally said that she could not work in the office where she would be faced with lots of people, as they feared that the idlozi would come upon her in front of them.

Mrs Dudu Goba of the institution’s HR department said that the issue of Miss Mtshali was confidential and that she could not talk about it in the newspapers.

“Miss Mtshali was obliged to follow the internal code of conduct of the institution, and if she is unsatisfied with the way in which her matter was handled then she should not be talking to the newspapers,” she said.