Umganu (marula tree) is a tree used by African people especially the Zulus. The tree grows near the river but it can also be re-planted. It is mainly used for traditional healing of mumps (uzagiga). The person who has mumps has to go to this tree and hit the cheek on the tree, while they do that the person needs to say, “Zagiga, zagiga ngiyeke” (“Go away, mumps”) three times, then the mumps will disappear within three days. Umganu is also used when a female person has died. The tree is used to fetch the spirit of that dead person from the place of death to her grave.
The two eldest members of the family cut the branch from umganu, take it with them and go to the place of death. When they arrive in the place of death they will put the branch of the tree on the spot where that person died. One elder member of the family speaks over the branch. They address the branch with the first name of the dead person and introduce themselves and to inform her that they are sent by the family to fetch her and to take her home, with respect they ask the spirit to come with them. After this they take the branch and leave. There are rules that must be followed when taking the dead one’s spirit, to make sure that everything goes well.
The person that holds the tree must not look back and must not talk to anyone including the person they are traveling with, until they get back home. It is believed that if you didn’t fetch the spirit of a dead person, her spirit will remain in that place and roam the roads. On the funeral day, the elders will speak to the coffin and inform the spirit that they have arrived at her resting place which is considered as a ‘last’ home. They put the branch on top of the coffin.
When it’s a male who has died, they use the tree called umlahlankosi or umphafu/umphafa and the rules are the same.
Isihlahla somganu sisetshenziselwa ukwelapha ezinye zezifo. Sitholakala eduze nendawo ewumfula kodwa uyakwazi nokuthi uzitshalele nakwenye indawo. Sisiza kakhulu uma umuntu ephethwe uzagiga. Kuthiwa kufanele uye kulesihlahla ufike uzishaye ngalendawo evuvukele ukhulume naso uthi, “Zagiga, zagiga ngiyeke” izikhathi ezintathu. Ngemuva kwezinsuku ezintathu uyaphela.
Lesihlahla sisetshenziswa uma kuyolandwa umuntu wesifazane ongasekho uma engashonelanga ekhaya. Kuyaye kuhambe abantu ababili okuyibona abadala (abesilisa). Bathatha igatsha elincane lomuthi baye lapho kwaphumela khona umphefumulo balibeke phansi. Oyedwa kulaba ababili ubese eyakhuluma atshele lowo ukuthi sebemlandile bamubuyisela ekhaya lapho ezophumula khona. Uma sebeqedile ukukhuluma bayalithatha. Lowo ophethe isihlahla akavumelekile ukuthi akhulume namuntu aze afinyelele ekhaya. Ngosuku lomngcwabo liyathathwa libekwe phezu kwebhokisi, kusakhulunywa nalo ukuthi selisekhaya. Kunenkolelo yokuthi uma umuntu engalandwanga lapho efele khona, uzoba wuhlupho. Isihlahla esisetshenziswa uma kuwumuntu wesilisa ofile sibizwa ngokuthi umlahlankosi noma umphafa kodwa imithetho elandelwayo iyefana.
By: Bongiwe Ndlovu