Percy Konquobe, Sangoma, Johannesburg
Ein schwergewichtiger Schwarzer mit Leopardenmuetze und Fell, ueber der Brust einen Kreuzgurt weisser Muscheln. Wuerdevoller Gang. Er nimmt gerne am Boden Platz. Spricht vornehmes, klar prononciertes Englisch.
"Why do you wear those shells on your belly, Sir?"
"It's my protection."
"Is it a burden, Sir, to be a shaman?"
"Yes, Madam, it is a burden. How often did i wish to be a common man instead of that bloody shaman, who can't sleep as he wishes, can't die, as he would sometimes, a man who has to suffer so much for all those cruelties in the world. How much did i wish to lay down myself and transform into a common regular man, dumbnumbed bloody man with his regular wife and children, for nothing being responsible but for his sins. But it isn't possible. Not anymore since that day, when i got the call. I was living in convenient Johannesburg-area, house and garden, wife and children. One day, the morning, i went out for working, but immediately after closing the gardens door i didn't turn up towards right but to the left, as if i where a puppet in the hands of a gigantic force, that even annihilated every thought. So i wandered a while, than came to a bus station. A voice said, "Take the bus!", so i did. Then, after a while, "Jump out!". So i did. There was a train station, a train under white clouds of steam, waiting on the perron, the voice, "Take the train!", which i did, thinking nothing, nothing of ticket or something like that, the controller didn't see anything, i don't remember a single ticket-purchase that day, so i travelled a while, almost till the end, the landscape unknown, but in effect, i don't remember anymore, what i was thinking, i think, nothing. Then, again, "Here's the end!", me on the perron, being drawn to another direction, walking for a while, already outskirts, there's a car with a man working on something inside the clutching casque, i ask him, "Do you give me a ride, man?", me, a black man, to a white skinned gentleman with a revolver propably inside the hanklechief-compartment, the man, without any hesitation, friendly nodds, and so we go further on in my journey of never ending surprises. So i was on the way for 24 hours. Than, my journey ended, as ended my life. I met the master of witchcraft, who had called me. He took my clothes and burnt them, meanwhile i had to go for bathing. Than he sent me to bed. "You won't eat anything for today, because today you died, and dead people don't need food anymore nor sex. Don't think about your family anymore. You are dead." So this was my end, and it lastet more than five years. Before, i was a man without meaning. In my youth i slipped into criminality as every black youngster does in our country. I was a thief within a gang. Than, one day, police catched some of us, me too, but since i was too young, they sentenced me on free feet. But than, two years later, when i was 17, they catched me again. I was a slow turtle, and now, they made a grimmace and sent me to jail, without a sentence, and they said, "Now, you'll learn for your life." I found myself in a prison's cell with a dozen of other guys, some of them from my gang. But, nevertheless, there were others in the cell, heavy weighted. After one week, some of us were dead, killed with a knife. That was the moment, when the floor-chief ordered my transfer and the one of my best friend. So the chief saved our lifes. He knew it, and we had to pay for it. We had to work for him. I don't want to speak more about that time, there are ladies in the room, please have an understanding. After 7 years without official judge's sentence i got free by reasons of good behaviour. From there on, i kept the last advice of the cells-mayor, a grey haired man, who had to sit down a 20 years-sentence. "Be a good boy and keep off any wrong step!" To which i obeyed."
"So, what is the burden? The burden are the dead, the people in pain, the cruelty, the torture. You see it and you hear it. It doesn't stop and it assaults you. When we overflew Italy, i saw the catafalks burning and smoking, the women crying on it. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the catafalks are still burning here in Europe, and primarily in the popes country. This continent is still suffering a lot from past. The dead are alive."
"What can you tell us about the rituals when it is up to a funeral, Mr.Konquobe?"
"Yes, Madam, an important question. First, we act under shock, as every human does. The widow or her son do look for a coffin. They celebrate the last goodby-night, under tears. Then it is up to the funeral. Children are strictly forbidden, and to me too, it has been forbidden by the ghosts. I've nothing to do with funerals and have to keep away myself, even if it would be my own mother! Children are attracted by the spirit of the dead, who is still on earth, and the ghost remains on earth, as we say, till one hole month. So we have to pay attention to the dead, we have to honour him, and so we do, in public and in private. We come together and we start talking about him, and we remember everything, the good and the bad, and we try to laugh, and some of his friends would take a drink, me of course not, but we take our time to say "Goodby", at least some hours during day. So, that lasts one month. Children don't have to participate at funerals at all, that's too dangerous. They would start vomiting, because they feel attracted. You have read it already in the Holy Bible, haven't you? When the Lord says, "Let the dead be buried by the dead!", haven't you read it? In our tradition it was always like that: No children at funerals, even when the carry the coffin along the street: Children into the house! Nor a single glimpse! Than after 30 days, the dead person doesn't want to stay on earth anymore and will travel away. That's the moment, when the widow has to burn every cloth of her husband, the matrace, on which he had laid a hole life, and all other personal bed utilities. She has to burn it. And the personal belongings, books, we give it away to unknown people. Not the shoes. The shoes are burnt, and the watch, it has to be destroyed, necessarily. And finally, the widow would sell her bed. Which man is so kind to lay down in a widows bed on the side, where the former spouse expired?" (Alpbach, Pfingsten 1998)
"So, this is my oracle. A leather pocket of bones, shells and something more. Everything in it has got it's meaning. Representations of life. The man is coming and has to sit down in front of me. He only has to say his name, nothing more. So, i whisper the young man's name into my pocket and than i throw everything into my divinity-frame. And there, look, there is everything, and i know, why the young man has come to me, overpassing his fear towards a terrible witchcraft-man. And what will we see? We see, everything in order but lack of spirit. The young man is running away from spirit, his hole life. He agitates. Good qualities, but he prefers to run away. He is afraid of God. But you can't escape God. He's like a cloud. You can't escape a cloud. It's too powerfull!
How often, would you estimate, that i was married? That's the question you've got in mind, isn't it so, Madam? So, lisson Madam, i wasn't married once, nor twice nor thrice, and even with four women i didn't find my luck in life, Madam. Everything was spoiled, because i didn't accept the fact, that i am a Sangoma, Madam. I'm not anymore a humble man, Madame. Other powers do surround me. Powers i cannot influence for. You think a witcher demands powerfull spirits? To the contrary. We are handled. We aren't men anymore. We are dangerous. Our own children could die out of a single furious glimpse of ours or out of bad mind. The wife break down with unstoppable blooding from her belly. That's what i didn't want to realize, that i wasn't anylonger a common lover nor father. Everything broke down. I asked my master, and he said, that's by law. You can't escape. I will look for a wife for you, and so he did, and he brought me another lady, a lady to my first disgust, she wasn't beauty, but than, slowly, i discovered the truth: She was Sangoma too. The Masters pupil too. We were from the same fire. That let us live together, and understand, and work together, even if we are far away from each other.
So, this is part of my history." (Mondsee 2004).