This piece just touches on the surface of the duality of Africa spirituality, religion and belief systems.
My name is Thobeka Nyathikazi.
Jesus is my Lord and Saviour and I am unapologetic about my culture; it’s values and interests.
Thobeka Nyathikazi, whether intentionally or not, means “Be Humble Great Buffalo”. My name is a sentence. My name is an instruction. My name is a reminder to “me” that there have been few coincidences in life thus far, where I am concerned. I do not believe it to be a coincidence that I was born into a family that practices duality at its core and is strong because of it.
Most of the questions that have driven me all my life, were birthed at the age of 5 sitting in line waiting for my uncle to shave my precious hair off; a part of mourning our family’s matriarch, uMaGamede. There are many things about Zulu culture that vary from one family to the next, this is another layer to duality, understanding and respecting the differences between two different methods while appreciating the goal is the same; to communicate with The source of Power and Love, and reconciling the differences because the goal remains the same.
I do not know if you know, but when you ask a Zulu parent “Why?” in relation to ritual, the answer is often “Akubuzwa/Don’t Question”. So I was never told why we all had to lose our hair back in 1998, but I knew we had to and so I did not resist or exude any negative emotions about it; hair grows back.
The fault with not questioning though, is that it is disempowering. The fault with questioning when told not to question, is that it makes you a rebel. I have been a rebel since the age of 5.
We don’t discuss enough, the duality of the spiritual beliefs a good majority of ourselves, as Africans hold. We are afraid to converse about the reality of, in my case, being Zulu and Christian and at Peace with that. More than Peace, to the extent of holding prayers during the course of traditional ceremonies and knowing that all is well.
It will continue to be impossible to create a common system of values and goals specific to the African, if we do not open up, discuss, assess the realities we are living in when just living. We cannot develop Africa, while afraid to define what an African is today…mostly Dual.
Since it’s arrival in Africa, Africans have modified Christianity in an effort to break away from European churches that utilized the church to promote European systems of thought. Christianity has been used to perpetuate violence in various forms (eg. Rwanda 1994), and one of those forms of violence is the shunning of culture and demonizing of African rituals.
Some Africans have founded churches which interpret dreams from Ancestors as messages they have been instructed by God to deliver within African Pentecolism. There are many other classes of Spirituality that extend duality on the continent and there are many religions beyond Christianity that are being practiced and have been practiced for decades like that of Shembe in South Africa.
My name is Thobeka Nyathikazi and if being Zulu and a Christian are Contradictory, than so am I.