Two weeks ago, I was involved in a car accident. Five months ago, I was in another car accident. So, when I got home, my family had conflicting, if not confusing, interpretations of this bad omen, says the writer.
Johannesburg - This is me today. I am seeking answers from Western theological principles in a situation that some deem African witchcraft.

Two weeks ago, I was involved in a car accident. Five months ago, I was in another car accident. So, when I got home, my family had conflicting, if not confusing, interpretations of this bad omen.

After my first car accident (first in this case with me behind the wheel), they did not read too much into it. But the line, “Your God and your ancestors (gods) have saved you”, was uttered.

As a Christian, I did acknowledge the hand of God in saving my life. I gave a prayer of thanksgiving for the fact that I came out of that accident unscathed.

Often when I hear the line, “Badimo ba gao bao sireleditse” (your ancestors or gods have protected you), the Christian in me remembers Exodus chapter 34 verse 14; “Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”

I understand that the verse says God does not want to share my worship unto Him with anyone else. So, after the second accident, everybody at home suggested that there was more to these car accidents than met the eye. “Ke boloi bo, Kabelo.” Kabelo, this is witchcraft.

I remember how that accident occurred, I can tell the story in its full detail. I was trying to save my life from a situation that could have resulted in my death, due to someone’s reckless driving.

I am mentioning this because I believe that witchcraft is viewed as “human, not divine action, one that results from supernatural happenings such as a pact with the devil, through other motivations such as jealousy, hatred or revenge”, according to William and Mary Journal of Women and the Law.

In my case, I thought these things happened daily and I had seen worse - and survived the worst myself. The thought that someone could be behind this sends shivers down my spine. I find myself alarmed, confused and downright scared for dear life.

I acknowledge that there is jealousy in this evil world. Not everyone we come in contact with is in full support of what we do, say or achieve. Nevertheless, I never thought the evil in a human’s heart could be associated with the bad luck one meets.

I also acknowledge how emotionally, physically, spiritually and financially straining accidents can be. I am still recovering from the calamity. I am equally trying to be calm and rational.

My worry is, as an African young man, do I ignore the elders? Are the signs valid enough to make one see things beyond logic?

I have never been one to undermine the gifts of sangomas. Their spiritual gifts are something I fully respect.

I was raised in a Christian home, headed by two strong traditional and cultural grandparents.

On Sundays, we went to church without fail. When certain things did not make sense to them, they would perform traditional rituals to appease the ancestors or ask for guidance.

The truth is, no matter how curious you might be, nobody is allowed to question elders about the rituals and the processes followed to perform them.

As I grew older, and after my grandfather died, the family performed few or no rituals. But we never missed church. So, the ways of the church, which I must say, have little or no room for appreciation of African cultures and tradition, became the dominant way of life, the only way of dealing with challenges we faced.

As I face these daunting crossroads, I have realised that beyond the God versus gods, witchcraft or misfortunes there is a spiritual journey I have to undertake and that means I have to consider all the options and advice I have been offered. It would be silly of me to seek answers only from Western theology and ignore my African cultures and traditions.

* Kabelo Chabalala is the founder of the Young Men Movement. E-mail,[email protected]; Twitter, @KabeloJay; Facebook, Kabelo Chabalala

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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