The children at school refuse to believe
That my granny is a Sangoma
They struggle to accept
Because she lives in suburbia, works in a hospital
And drives a Cadillac car

My granny studies at university
And works overseas
But during intlombe she is resolutely
Down on her knees

She brews the mqombothi
As soon as that smell appears
And calls her clan, amaMaduna
From far and near

From the dawn of the day
To the death of the night
We sing, we dance
And plea for our plight

We, the living
From the dead do ask
For blessing and shelter
From the days that are dark

We drink the mqombothi
And we don’t feel the heat
Swept up in umxhentso
Twirling around, stamping our feet

And my granny,
So small, yet powerful still
With her beads and her faith
And her indomitable will

She leads the dancing
Watches over the ritual slaughter
Prayers and libations!
With fire water!

We kneel, offer coins
To the ones who are gone
Chosi, Camagu
We recite as one

My granny is a Sangoma
And through her
The ancestors
Live and breathe
Even if the children at school
Refuse to


Image by K. Kendall via Flickr

Post image titled “Elvis & the sangoma” by Tracy Stokes via Flickr

About the Author:

Portrait - HawkerAmanda was born in Mthatha, South Africa and currently lives in Cape Town. She is a perpetual procrastinator who dreams of quitting her day job and living the sweet life of an itinerant traveller. She finds beauty in the weird and mundane and usually needs nothing but great music and a good book to keep her occupied. Her mission in live is to explore the vineyards of the world, one bottle of wine at a time. She works for a volunteer agency by day, but it’s her time as a freelance writer for a pan-African blog that keeps her creative embers burning.

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I'm finishing up a phd at Duke University where I study African novels, which I believe are some of the loveliest things ever written. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

4 Responses to “My Granny is a Sangoma | By Amanda Hawker | African Poety” Subscribe

  1. Nos 2015/10/28 at 10:43 am #

    Wow Amanda! Super proud of you 🙂

  2. Khaya Ronkainen 2015/10/28 at 1:48 pm #

    Vivid memories of home, I was born in Umtata as well. Thank you for such a beautiful poem!

  3. Tshimollo 2015/10/28 at 3:58 pm #

    Wow, it’s a beautiful piece. My kids one day will relate to this poem, as their granny is a sangoma. Thank you.

  4. Futhie Masondo 2015/10/29 at 5:04 am #

    Great piece Amanda….good job, I love it

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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