The past three years have been extremely bruising for me. In that short space of time, I lost three people I loved dearly to cancer, including my mother, who died of metastatic gastrointestinal cancer in 2017. A year before that, as a student at Rhodes University, I endured the trauma of the bruising #FeesMustFall protests that were marred by violence.
Lemong tse tharo tse fetileng ebile tse bohloko bophelo ba ka. Bokhutswaneng ba nako eo; Ke ile ka lahleheloa ke batho ba bararo bao ke ba ratang ho fetisa ka lefu la kankere ha mmoho le mme oaka a neng a tshwerwe ke kankere ea mala e ileng ea nama ka lemo sa 2017. Ka lemo seka pele ho seo, ke le moithuti kolong seka hodimo sa Rhodes(Rhodes University)ka nako ea boipelaetso ba #Feesmustfall tse neng die meruso le dikharuru ke ile ka hlekefetseha haholo kelello le maikutlong.
I can still distinctly remember the sounds of gunshots, of running feet and of screaming voices. In my mind’s eye I can still see the blood from the wound of a friend who was shot through the hand with a rubber bullet when he tried to shield himself from a bullet that was heading straight to his face. I can still smell the stun grenades. And sometimes when I shut my eyes hard enough, I can see the faces of the police officers who searched us as we entered the Great Hall to write exams – as though we were common criminals rather than poor students fighting for a chance to escape the condition of Blackness.
Ke hopola ka hloka medumo ea dithunya, diqi tsa maoto a methane le mantswe a hoeletsang. Moeng ntse ke bona madi a tsoang leqebeng la motswalle a ileng a thungwa letsohong ka kulo ea rekere ha ane a itshereletsa khahlanong le kulo e neng e tobile sefahleho sa hae, ntse ke hopola monkgo wa kgarenate. Ka nako enngwe ha ke koala mahlo ke sa bona difahleho tsa maponesa a neng a are phenyekolla ha re Kena Great Hall ho ea ngoba diteko tsa makgaola kgang, ekare re batlodi ba molao eseng baithuti ba ipelaetsa khahlanong le ditokelo tsa batho ba batsho.
It is in this difficult space I’m navigating that I came to listen to Songs of Greeting, Healing and Heritage by Mantombi Matotiyana. It is in this space where healing was desperately needed, and healing was found. As soon as I started playing the CD, I was immediately captivated by the dramatic sounds that reminded me of the cascading waters of Mosi wa Thunya. I had Umoya Ethethile, Zavela and Embo on repeat for many days as I commuted to work on the congested roads of Johannesburg. So captivating are the majestic instrumentals in the songs that they carry one through the debilitating traffic with the calmness of walking barefoot on the sands of Mpondoland – the land where God rests.
Ha ntse ke hahlaula bakeng sena se thata ke phopoletsa phodiso, ke moo ke ileng ka iphumana ke mamela kgatiso ya mmino ya Mme Mantombi Matotiyana e bitswang Songs of Greetings, Healing and Heritage (Pina tsa Ditumediso. Phodiso le Setso) moo le ileng ka fumane pholo eo ke neng kee hloka haholo. Eitse hoba ke qale ho e mamela ke ile ka hapwa ke medumo e tsotehang e ileng ya nkhopotsa metsi a theosang a Phororo ya Mosi oa Thunya. Ke ne ke bapala dipina tse bitswang; Umoya Ethetile, Zavela le Embo ka pheta pheto ka matsatsi a mangata maetong aka a ho ya mosebetsing mmileng e petetsaneng ea Johannesburg. Kgogedi ya medumo ya diletsa tsa mmino tse kgethehileng pineng tsena di ile tsa njara nakong e qetanang matla ya sephethephethe ka tsela ekhathollang jwalo ka motho ha a tsamaya ka maoto mobung oa lefatshe la MaMpondo – Fatsheng leo Modimo a phomotseng ho lona.
The power of this God is demonstrated in Somandla, a song that will rip your heart apart and lay it bare before stitching it back together, healing it with the tenderness only a mother can muster. What begins as a prayer to God, ends with the proclamation that the will of God be done. This song was particularly poignant to me because it reminded me of the night that I stood beside my dying mother’s hospital bed, begging God to save her, bargaining even as I could see that her condition was grave.
Matla a Modimo a iponahatsa pineng e bitswang Somandla, e nang le bokgoni ba ho tjhwatlakanya pelo ea motho ho e beha pepeneng pele ee rokella ho e kopantsha hape ka bonolo bo kotjwang ke mme motswadi. Ho qalang jwalo ka thapelo ho felelletsang ele thoriso ya Thato ya Modimo.. Pina ena eka kodi ya malla fifing la bosiu enkgopotsa bosiu boo ke neng ke eme lehlakoreng la Nkgono waka ka nako eo a neng a robetse diphateng tse tjhesang ke rapela hore Modimo pholose bophelo ba hae le ha boemo ba hae bone bo sa tshepisi.
After years of battling to understand how God had ignored my cries and blood-curdling screams, it is in MaMatotiyana’s words that it all finally makes sense: God always answers. My mother’s death was God’s answer, and the answer was: “I am taking her to a better place”. And that might not have been the answer that I wanted but as MaMatotiyana posits, God always answers. There is immense healing in this statement – healing that took me two years to receive.
Ka mora dilemo tse ngatangata ke sitwa ho utlwisisa seo ke neng ke dumela hore Modimo o ile a phapantsetsa dillo tsaka le mehoo yaka e mathisang madi; ka mantswe a Mme Matotiyana ke ile ka ba lekutlwisiso ea hore:”Modimo oa araba”. Ho hlokahala ha mme oa ka ho bile karabo le ha ene ese eo ke sa e lebellatseng ene ele e reng:” kemo isa bakeng se molemo”. Jwalo ka ha Mme Matotiyana ae beha “Modimo oa araba”.
My maternal grandmother is a traditional healer, a sangoma, and in listening to this album I was also reminded of her own spiritual journey. Kubuhlungu Ukugula is especially poignant because the ancestral call made her very sick. My grandmother would often be bedridden and Western medicine was not working. It was only when she eventually answered her ancestral call that she found healing. There is great profundity in MaMantotiyana’s appreciation of African heritage, of the ways in which the ancestors speak to us and guide us to our own healing.
Pina e reng “Kubuhlungu Ukugula” enkgopotsa leeto le thata la moea la Nkgono oaka setswala mme eo eleng ngaka ya setso(sangoma); Hoba pele a amohela pitso ya hae ya badimo o ile a kula haholo hoo bileng meriana le dingaka tsa sekgowa di ne di sitwa ho mo thusa. Ke morao ho ba a amohele pitso ya badimo a ileng a fola. Ke ka thoriso ea meetlo ya setso e tebileng ya Mme Matotiyana re fumanang tataiso ya badimo ho re tlele re fole.
Wachiteka Umzi Wendoda reaches out historically, connecting her personal pain to the trauma of Blackness. The song speaks of the brokenness of a man’s home, which immediately reminds me of the migrant labour system that destroyed the Black family by forcing fathers into the labour market and leaving behind broken homes. It connects profoundly with Wen’ UseGoli – the City of Lights in a concrete jungle where dreams can turn into nightmares with the speed with which wealth can turn into poverty.
Wachitheka Umzi Wendoda ere khutlisetsa nakong tse fetileng. Ke pina e bung ka tshotleho ea hae eo ae bapisang le tshotleho le bohloko ba bana ba thari entsho. Pina ena e bua ka ho thubeha ha motse oa monna e leng kgopotso ea tsela eo basebetsi ba bajaki ba ileng ba qobelloa ka maemo hore ba siye metse ya bona ho ya batla mesebetsi dibakeng tse hole le hae ba siya metse ea bona e thubehile. Pina ena ke e bapisa le ereng “Wen’Usegoli” (Ha ole Gauteng) Motse oa Mabone o hara moru wa konkreiti moo ditoro di fetohang ho phofa, borui bo fetohang bofumanehi ka potlako.
Vukani reminded me about #FeesMustFall, about the brave young men and women who refused to continue lying on the ground while the brutal government stomped on their broken bodies. MaMatotiyana implores us to wake up and lead ourselves – a cry that steered our liberation struggle, reminding the oppressed that they alone are their own liberators. In her voice, the message sounds especially more profound because it is laced with the wisdom of knowing – of knowing that unless we wake up, the future is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.
Vukani ke pina e onkgopotsang boipelaetso ba #Feesmustfall bakeng sa bahlankana le barwetsana ba bahale ba ileng ba hana ho robala fatshe hore mmuso o kgopo o hatikele mmele ea bona e robakahileng. Mme Matotiyana o re qeka hore re eme re iketelle pele. Ke seo se ileng sa retataisa le ho re etella pele nakong ea dintwa tsa tokoloho, e leng sehopotso ho ba tlasa kgatello hore ke rona feela ba ka itokollang. Ka lentsoe la hae, molaetsa wa mme o tletse bohlale le tsebo, hore ntle hore re tsohe re iketelle pele re tshwana le nonyane ekgauhileng mapheo e sitwang ho fofa.
Anyone who grew up watching Ityala Lamawele, an SABC drama series about the dispute between the fictional twins Wele and Babini over their deceased father’s estate will immediately connect with Majola, the theme song from the series. In MaMatotiyana’s commanding voice, the song sounds more dramatic, the calls to the sacred snake more urgent. When she informs Majola with urgency that “kunen’cakancaka kulomzi wam” (there is trouble in my home), I immediately think of the socio-political troubles of South Africa that demand the urgent intervention she is pleading for from Majola.
E mong le e mong ea hotseng a shebella pale/papadi ya ditshwantshiso thelevishineng e bitswang Ityala la mawele ya ntwa e pakeng tsa mafahla a bitswang Wele le Babini ho tsekwa leruo la Ntatabona ya hlokahetseng, motho a kekebe a sitwa ho lekantshetsa le ho utlwisisa pina e bitswang Majola eo e leng pina ya Sehlohlolo sa pale ena. Ka lentsoe la taelo le medumo o tsotehang; Mme Matotiyana p hoeletsa le ho bitsa noha ena ehlomphehileng e ho dumelwang e emetse badimo, ka potlako are:””Ndine n’cakancaka kulomzi wam”(ke na le ditsietsi motseng oaka), ho na ho etsa ke hopole ditsietsi sechabeng le dipolotiking tse hlokang ka potlako kenello ea tharollo ya Majola.
Songs of Greeting, Healing and Heritage is an emotionally charged album with the kind of spiritual depth that comforts the disturbed and disturbs the comfortable. It came at the right time for me personally – a time when I was in desperate need of the kind of spiritual healing that it provides. It is not by accident that I first heard this album on the week of the second anniversary of my mom’s passing when I was battling pain that threatened to consume me alive.
Songs of Greetings, Healing and Heritage ke kgatiso ya mmino onang le tshusumetso ea maikutlo e nang le botebo semoyeng e kgothatsang meya ehlomohileng, esisinyang ba photholohileng. E fihlile ka nako e tshwanehilengho ho nna – ka nako eo ke neng ke tsielehile haholo ke hloka pholo moyeng. A se ka phoso ebe ke qadile ho mamela kgatiso ena ka beke ya sehopotso sa lemo tse pedi haesale mme oaka a hlokahala. Ke sitwa ho mamelana le masisapelo a neng a nkaparetse. Qa’
But it also comes at the right time for a South Africa that is spinning out of control – a country that is drowning in ethical nightmares and dysfunction. MaMantotiyana is the kind of artist whose voice people hear their own stories in – whatever our stories may be. And in hearing that voice we find meaning, direction and immense healing from pains we do not always tell people about.
Ebile e fihlile ka nako e tshwanehileng eo naha ya Afrika Borwa etswang taolong e aparetswe ke mekgwa e mebe ya boitshwaro le hona ho hloka tsela entle ya ho sebetsa. Mme Matotiyana ke moqapi kapa sebini seo lentsoe la hae kapa mmino oo batho ba kgonang hoo bapantsha le diketsahalo tsa maphelo a bona – dife kapa dife. Ke lentsweng la hae ho fumanwang tema, tataiso le phodiso ditsietsing tseo re sitwang ho dibolella batho.