Spiritual Journeys in South Africa
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Ancestor worship in
In South Africa, spiritual journeys are often informed by the ancestors. At least 80 percent of the population, from professionals to blue collar workers, are in touch with the spirits of their dead in spite of the fact too that they may be church-goers.
Indeed, such ancient African traditions and the Christian churches live happily side-by-side, and have done so for many years.
The ancestors are consulted through sangomas who are "called" to undertake a thorough training in the processes of divination. Elaborate ceremonies, marked by energetic drumming and dancing, put the ancestors in touch with the living through sangomas, who also interpret dreams.
All these shamanistic processes help to link the conscious and unconscious worlds and make sense of people's lives and dilemmas.
To engage in the Zulu South African's spiritual journey, consult a sangoma. Some of them are in private practice in rural and urban areas and others work in the popular cultural villages.
Or you can visit a sacred Zulu ancestral site, such as the homestead of Shaka's grandfather Jama in Nobamba near Ulundi in KwaZulu-Natal. Close-by lies Makheni, a hallowed spot where men are not permitted to strike or even touch the ground with their sticks, lest they disturb the spirits of their ancestors.
The most resonant of spiritual journeys in South Africa for Muslims, meanwhile, is to be found in the Cape, where according to local beliefs, there is a "circle of Islam" that starts at the old Muslim cemetary on the slopes of Signal Hill where two saintly men are buried, continuing to a grave above Oude Kraal beyond Camps Bay and sweeping around the mountain to a Kramat at Constantia. The circle is complete by an old tomb on Robben Island.