Sangoma reveals SWC winner...

2010-06-11 10:13

Port Elizabeth - A Zulu sangoma, after a night of dreams and consultations with the ancestors, looks into the future to see the winner of the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

The 70-year-old fortune teller, a cheerful lady called Constance, plays a critical role in Zulu culture, blessed with special powers to heal and divine the future.

But she was mighty hard to find.

A two-day search aided by street sellers and shop owners in the southern city of Port Elizabeth had produced nothing but a series of false dawns.

It appeared one needed a sangoma to find a sangoma.

Then a toothless lady of indeterminate age kneading dough on a pavement beside a taxi rank suggested trying a muti herbal specialist off Govan Mbeki Road.

The shop, an Aladdin's cave of pills and potions and ointments, had a high counter behind which were two people.

One, a man, had his face painted in tribal warpaint.

The other, a woman, was Constance.

"You've made it," she smiled, as if she had been expecting the visit all the time.

After negotiating her fee, Constance opened a door into a storeroom packed with sacks of dried roots and animal hides hanging from a makeshift washing line.

Through a curtain at the back was her "office" -- with a frayed floral couch, more bags of herbs and plant extracts, and shelves crammed with somewhat incongruous tins of Jeyes Fluid household cleaner.

"I use all this to make my medicines," she said, easing her generous frame into a chair beside which was a small table with incense and a yellow candle.

"When someone comes to me and wants me to help them with trouble in their life or look into the future, I get them to light this candle. That way I can see through them, I can see what the problem is," she explained.

"I help cure people who are mad or who have AIDS using 'muthi'."

Constance has been a sangoma for 12 years.

"My father and my sister were sangomas, and when they died they came to me in a dream and told me 'you have to be a sangoma now'," she said.

"I didn't want to, but they made me ill. They hit me with sticks, I couldn't walk.

"They sent me into the sea for seven days to sleep. When I woke up I accepted to become a sangoma.

"I went away to train for one year. Then my ancestors came back to me and said 'you can finish the training now, you are a sangoma'.

"I then slaughtered five goats and one cow."

She says she has many clients, rich and poor, black and white, old and young, who turn to her for a multitude of reasons.

"People come to me because they have problems sleeping, or with their marriage, they want to know the future, or they are ill. I help them all."

Football players also turn to herbalists for potions, balms or talismans to boost their performance or treat injuries.

More than 30 percent of African athletes use traditional medicines, according to one survey.

Johannesburg's Ellis Park stadium is a hop from major medicine markets, and an ox was slaughtered at the showpiece Soccer City site to bless the 10 World Cup pitches.

Asked about the World Cup, Constance shuts her eyes, as if asleep, in meditation, then opens them sharply.

"All the teams here are strong, but I have to consult my ancestors, I have to ask them what they think, and they will tell me in my dream tonight.

"Come back tomorrow, and I will have your answer."

The next day, Constance is again waiting behind the counter, with the answer not to eternity but almost as important.

"Argentina will win the World Cup."

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