According to my culture there is a big difference between a house and a home (Indlu noma likhaya). My grandfather used to say you cannot buy a home (likhaya) but you can buy a house. Unfortunately according to his explanation very few Africans have homes (emakhaya) these days. Our culture especially us Emalangeni (Those of the Sun) and other Nguni tribes demand that we must have homes (emakhaya) because we cannot fully practice our culture and it’s rituals without a home (Likhaya). Our spirituality is centered around a home (likhaya) most of our rituals demand that we do them at home and there are special places that are very important at home. Indeed once you fully understand what a home is then you will realise that its impossible to buy a home, but you can only build it (MKHULU WAMI WATSI KIMI LIKHAYA ALITSENGWA KEPHA LIYAKHIWA UNGATSENGA INDLU KUPHELA HHAYI LIKHAYA). One can’t buy a home, you can only build one and you build a home but can’t buy one – only a house can be bought. A home likhaya has a surname where we say lapha ekhaya kuka bani? If we say lapha ekhaya kuka Silindza its not because the father of the home is Silindza, it is because of the rituals that are supposed to be done before you build the home. Those rituals are the ones that are of importance in making it a home and, in giving the home a surname. Before you build the home it must be connected in the network of that surname (sibongo) so that it is recognised by the ancestors. Most of this process needs to be done before you start building the home. I know that there is a big difference between a surname and sibongo but for the sake of understanding I will use it as if it’s the same. Some of the things that need to be done includes kugala, kubeka tikhokhwane, kubopha lifindvo, kudonsa lihlahla, kubetsela, kuchumanisa emadloti nalelikhaya, kuniketa bunikati belikhaya kumathongo ekhaya, kwenta siyingiliti selikhaya kanyene nekumisa umsamo ne sibaya uchumane nalabangasekho tinyanya telikhaya. All this must be done before you start building.
They say a bird that was born in a cage thinks flying is madness. Someone who was born in a house will think having a home is madness. Our people were relocated into the townships by the oppressors to be accessible as labourers for them. Townships were not built to be homes but to be refugee camps for workers. We used to have townships and places that were referred to as homes calling them EMAKHAYA.
But as times went on those who were staying in the camps for work started looking down on those who were staying Emakhaya thinking they were better than them. Those staying in townships were losing their culture adopting western culture thinking they were getting civilised, thus looking down on those staying Emakhaya who were still preserving our culture. Most of our people migrated to stay in the townships so that they would also look civilised and also have better opportunities to find employment. When they went back home most of them used to look down on those who were still staying emakhaya thus creating a desire for most of those emakhaya to leave and be like them. Building a home will require a minimum space of one hector which is 10000 square meters. And there are five important things that must be in a home. It’s almost impossible to build a home in a township. Townships were made for houses not home. There are places which were made for homes (emakhaya). There are no homes in townships but houses which were meant to accommodate workers. We came to townships for work not to make those small places homes as they will never be homes (emakhaya) but will remain houses. My grandfather father taught me that you can only build a home not buy it and a home belongs to the one who built it.
In my culture there are five things that define a home which is: the sanctuary (Indlu kaGogo – umsamo), the Kraal (Sibaya) this two are the most holy places found in a home where most of our spiritual rituals are performed. You cannot have Umsamo without isibaya those two go hand in hand and are build closer to each other, the door of Indlu ka Gogogo where there is umsamo must face the holy entrance of Sibaya (Enshungushungwini/Intunja) the female ancestors (BoGogo) dwell at Emsamo sanctuary (Endlini kaGogo). The male ancestors dwell in the Kraal (esibayeni), the third one is the alter (Etiko/Eziko) where we use it for burning our incense (Impepho) we can also cook there and do other spiritual rituals, that one can also be endlini kaGogo (sotse, sicaphe), the fourth one I don’t know an English name for it (Etaleni/ezaleni) this place is sometimes used for burial though not everyone will be buried there normally the mothers are buried in front of the home facing it and the children buried at the back of the houses then the head of the home (Umnumzane) next to the Kraal or inside the kraal(esibayeni). Burying our loved ones in cemeteries is not our culture and there is a big reason why that is not supposed to happen. Indlu kaGogo where there is Umsamo is supposed to be the first house to be built in a home(ekhaya) before you even build a house for your wife or yourself, that house must be the first house. Most people now build their houses first then later they build the house for BoGogo and that is not supposed to be done that way – it shows that you are undermining BoGogo and you are putting yourself and you wife first. If the home you are building is owned by your ancestors that will mean you build their house first but if the home is owned by you and your wife then build the house for you and your wife first to show how much you undermine your ancestors. Building their home later is useless, you might as well not build for them because they are not important to you, you and your wife are the most important. When building a home you first start with Indlu kaGogo where there is Umsamo, secondly you set up Sibaya for aboMkhulu, build a house for your mother because when your mother comes in that home she is not supposed to sleep where visitors sleep – that’s is also her home she is not a visitor, then you can build the house for your wife and that is also telling your wife that she is not the greatest in that home as they think nowadays. The greatest in the home is Gogo followed by My Mother then she follows after them.
I know when I write about such some will say culture evolves, as they will think staying in refugee camps like the townships is the evolution of culture. Townships have never been the evolution of culture but places we were forcefully relocated to, and not at our own will – but we accepted those conditions and finally accept them as our homes. In most African cultures it was only those who were lost, cursed and strangers who were buried in cemeteries. People of different surnames were not buried at the same place. And the fifth place to be built would be the fields (emasimi/tinsimi) every home is suppose to produce food and not depend on shops for food. Remember that a home is a place where everyone will be welcome whether poor, homeless, old, sick, orphaned or whatever the situation is – so there must be food produced in a home for everyone to eat without complaining about how expensive food is.
One day I will delve deeper on this topic of a home versus a house. Sometimes taking a wife who only knows the township life and does not even know what a home (likhaya) is, someone who only knows a house and expects to build a home out of it – such a lady is a waste of time. In your mind you will be thinking about a home and she thinking about a house. But there are ladies who are keen to learn though born in townships, and can manage a real home as Inkhosikati yelikhaya some are even tired of township life and want to have land and have a proper home not a camp. Questions are accepted to those who want to know more about a home, this article was just an intro – something to challenge those who think a home is the same as a house. Our spirituality demands that we have homes, as most of our rituals are centered around a home. I’m very happy that some who were born in the township have now bought some land and build a proper home instead of coming with so many excuses, defending staying in townships where it is not suitable to perform our rituals. If you think you are a Queen then you deserve to have a palace not a house, and if you think you are a King then you need to have land and build your palace. SIYINDUNA MAPOPO RAMPANE NDAUWE