Palesa-entle Pulse Makua

naked-3202444_1280-1280x853.jpg

17min3088

Palesa Makua is the founder of HER SKIN SPEAKS. Through HER SKIN SPEAKS, Makua has addressed body shamming in an exhibition titled All bodies are perfect. In this heartfelt piece, Makua details her ordeal of losing her son through stillbirth in 2017. She’s currently documenting women with similar stories of losing their children which will be premiered in August. Through her work, Makua has proven to be an epitome of “Mosadi o tshwara thipa ka bogaleng” a force to be reckoned with.

 

FINDING OUT I’M GONNA BE A MOMMA…

In April I found out that I was pregnant. Hahahaha, yup!! I am going to be a mother. Feeling sick and being agitated all the time and my boobs being excruciatingly painful; fighting with my lover over nothing, crying and then apologize to him; not once did it occur to me that these were possible signs of pregnancy.

I think I had long believed that maybe I am barren because I’ve had unprotected sex here and there and I have never even had a pregnancy scare, so when I asked a roommate to buy me a pregnancy test while in was chin deep in bed;I found that I’m actually pregnant and was instantly happy. Then the thought of telling my family crept in. I decided to keep it myself for a while because I had an Idea of how my family is going to react and I wanted to bask in the happiness that had just leaped into my hands, I didn’t want them to rain on my parade.

I sent a friend a text message telling her the news and her response was just pure heartfelt laughter, I reckon it was because I had been stalling to see her. I had always been scared of pregnant women; I had not seen her throughout her pregnancy. I later paid her a visit, I was really happy to see her and excited to meet her son.

Her mom was really not pleased that we “decided” to have children at 25 years old, only because she expected more from us and not because she was disappointed per se. She expressed how we need to do better now that we are parents, basically told me things I knew but wasn’t really shaken a lot and I realized that damn, shit is about to get real. What killed me most was after that, she gave me a hug and asked if I needed a peanut butter and jam sandwich. I was glad that happened because it prepared me for telling my family.

My lover was the easiest person to tell because well, it’s his seed growing inside of me. I told him the same day I found out, he was shocked as expected…him and I have not been dating for that long and now we’re expecting a baby. I think we were both worried about what our families would say regarding our dating track record. Eventually I got settled with the idea,but a bit worried as to where his train of thought was at. I mean the last thing I needed was for him to be unsure and nowhere in my plans do I raise a baby alone.

I love him and think I always confessed with my mouth that I want to have his children and that I’d make a good and cool mother, so now he gets to see me through all this and remind me when I feel I’m not doing my best. I’ve always known that he is a good person and I couldn’t have chosen a better partner to have see forever with (Yes, I made a conscious decision). I say forever because I honestly do not see myself with anyone else but him.

I told my mother that I am pregnant around May/June and she thought I was joking. She asked if I had been drinking alcohol while she was away and I told her no, she then asked why and I just told her that I’m with child. I expected her to kill me but nope, she was happy…absolutely happy. She had been really supportive throughout, I asked her to tell the rest of my family as I was still scared of breaking the news and when she did.

Surprisingly, everyone was happy and excited. I don’t really have a relationship with my dad, I told him via text that I was pregnant and he too has been really supportive and extremely kind. He drove me to my doctor appointments, picked  me up in the morning, wait for me outside the hospital then takes me to lunch and drives me back home. He has always been supportive in his own way despite how he left.

One of the most heartbreaking experiences is trying to find your place in womanhood. Women go through the most to find space, to hold space for other women. This constant stretching and shedding and accommodating is heavy but vital, it somehow builds your character among other things

HER SKIN SPEAKS has done some amazing work on the ground with women and has given me a platform to dance better with my demons. While most believe in therapy, I have always turned to using my pain to fuel my art. The best therapy for me has always been talking about my scars to strangers and friends, while most feel sorry for me I am slowly healing in ways they can never imagine.

LOSING MY SON…

August 30th 2017

I woke up and decided to do my laundry. By mid-afternoon I had these annoying cramps that came and went every second. They didn’t bother me much because I just thought it was my uterus stretching and making space for my baby (at least that’s what abadala said every time I asked why I had cramps in my abdominal area). I took naps throughout the day, but the cramps were persistent. Around 5pm I went to bed and as the night progressed, the pain got worse, my mom kept waking up to rub my belly and my waist and to check if I was fine and ask how and where exactly the pain is.

AUGUST 31ST 2017

It’s 4am and her last resort was getting warm water and a towel to put on my lower belly. She asked to put my feet in that tub of warm water and I did, while we were talking I felt a sensation as though water was about to come out my vagina and when I pulled down my underwear, a huge clot of blood fell in the tub, at that very second I knew that there was something wrong with me. My mother called my brother who he drove like a mad man straight to Steve Biko Hospital where I got examined. The doctor told me the baby is fine but I am actually going into labor.

I couldn’t understand why now because I was only five months pregnant. They took me to the labor room and that’s when I gave birth to the tiniest person I have ever seen, my son who was the size of my palm.

The nurse took him and placed him on my chest and said “look, it’s a boy. Unfortunately as small as he is, he will not live long.”

Hella confused and not present I laid there and held my baby in my hands until he was taken away and then back. They placed him under a warmer no oxygen machine…nothing, he kept breathing on his own for a few minutes.

The nurse called in my mother to come see him before his little lungs couldn’t keep him alive any longer. They asked us if we wanted to take him home and have a burial for him or leave him at the hospital to be cremated, we called my grandmother and she said we must leave him because he is too small (I honestly didn’t understand what that meant but I did as instructed), I also consulted my lover’s family to see what they think and they too agreed to what uMma (Grandmother) said.

I called my lover to tell him the news and he rushed to the hospital, he got there and he looked as though he was still dreaming, that this was some sick joke, it was just so hard to look at his peaceful nature tackling this much tragedy. He spoke of many things, but the actual thing he was there for and I understood why, we don’t deal with loss the same way. I just worry that him not talking about it might kill him inside. I hope he doesn’t blame me and then resent me for this, I do take full responsibility for this as it was my body’s fault that couldn’t carry his son till full term.

OCTOBER 4TH 2017

Some mornings are heavier than others. I could have sworn I felt my baby kick; since I lost my son I have not been able to breathe, I am struggling to make peace with the month of August. I’ve sat up many nights and asked myself what the point is when women get pregnant but cannot see it through? Why are women given the opportunity to incubate a human being inside of them and feel the little person kick and move around but never take the baby home?

I have marks that validate that even for a few minutes, I was a mother. I don’t know where to get up from now. I do know that things don’t happen and then disappear. Once they happen, they still are there. And we can move on and forget them but they still exist elsewhere…we give what we have lost names so that they continue to live.

Zewande Bhengu says “The spirit of a miscarried child never leaves the womb” I have found so much comfort in these words and have been breathing easier each day.


IMG-20190424-WA0001.jpg

11min96710

PEOPLE who know me are aware that I am from a family of healers. Honestly, I don’t know much about ubuNGOMA but I know my way around. I took it upon myself to sit down with my SaNGOMA friends and strangers to ask questions that keep me up at night.

Knowing the sensitivity that comes with this subject, I was constantly praying that my questions are friendly. Also, as much as I have healers at home it’s not easy to just approach them, and they simply dance to your rhythm- hence I had to rely on friends regarding this matter. It really wasn’t an easy path that I chose to embark on but ke, had it been too easy then anyone would do it.

My uncle and aunt (His wife) are healers-I know right, how can a man who is a saNGOMA get married and then later in their marriage, the wife lands herself a calling too and had to heed it. Umalume has always been a strict, level headed and grounded person hence it’s very hard for me to approach him with some of the things I stumble upon as far as ubuNGOMA is concerned.

My aunt on the other hand is the coolest saNGOMA. She loves sharing her experiences and songs mostly-which is my favourite part about intwaso.  When I can, I ambush her and ask a shit load of questions and try to remember every word.

THE COOLEST SANGOMA: UmkaMalume. Photo by Palesa-Entle Pulse Makua

In May 2012 I visited a place in Venda called Tshikwarani where my aunt was initiated, I was welcomed by these warmhearted old ladies who were fascinated by this city girl, so interested in learning so much about ubuNGOMA and for the first week I had to learn how to speak and understand TshiVenda. The reason I went there was to get images of what goes on Ephehlweni, but unfortunately I documented sacred rituals that cannot be shared on social media platforms, and to me that was bummer because it meant I had to start from scratch in terms of getting new footage.

I believe everything starts in a dream whereby a person would get visions showing specific things relating to what they need to do, or signs that show that their ancestors require attention. People who have ancestral spirits suffer almost from more or less the same symptoms; like blackouts, fainting during school and going into a trance. In their visions they would see images of people instructing them to perform certain rituals until they visit a traditional healer who would normally advise them to stop wasting resources and should undergo an intwaso (Initiation).

Many would wonder if Izangoma are capable of everything-are they Jack of all trades? There are many things they do but in the same breath, they know what they specialise in. For instance, one healer would specialise in Cleansing, Healing and Initiation.

Gogo Mahlalehlomile invited us to her home to share and educate us more about ubungoma, according to her she says some healers take their initiates to the river for 3 months to fulfill their specific spiritual calling. “I have two types of Amadlozi (spirits) -Ndawu and Nguni. Each fulfills a specific purpose: The Ndawu is for sniffing out evil spirits (Ukufemba) and the Nguni is a diagnosis (Ukuhlola/Ukuhlahluba) using bones. My very first patient was bewitched. She dreamt eating human hair, and during the consultation process I managed to get the poison out and she was healed.” Gogo Mahlalehlomile says.

THE STORYTELLER: Palesa-Entle Pulse Makua

Note that there shall be no Sangoma without the spirit, these two are inseparable. Idlozi communicates to your family, and to you as well through the healer. When you have idlozi, you realise the need to dress appropriately to appease the spirit. You should eat the food that assists with spiritual growth (ukudlakwama Dlozi). There is a responsibility to respect human life and frequently perform rituals to appease the spirit. As the spirit grows in you, it brings economic development to you.

The purpose of being a traditional healer is to help others – not only for profit gain. However, because healers too need to earn a living, their patients pay.

If there is a client that needs help but can’t afford, they can still get helped-they would have to reach an agreement or barter services.

We asked about charlatans in the profession, Gogo Mahlalehlomile says “I feel terrible. Ancestors should penalize them because of these immortal acts, people lose lives. Let’s practice our art and science with honesty and integrity. Patients have to analyse the person behind the promise, and have the right to establish the healer’s credentials before undergoing any healing process.”

According to our research, most traditional healers don’t really have suppliers for their herbs, but they go and harvest with their initiates. Hence izaNgoma emphasize that amathwasa must respect nature and take care of it.

WHAT IS EPHEHLWENI?

Ephehlweni is an initiation school located in a sacred place where aspiring traditional health practitioners are initiated. The school caters for initiates with different spiritual needs, such as Ndawe, Nguni and others.

WHAT DETERMINES A GOBELA?

To qualify as a Gobela, you must be initiated either in Nguni, Ndawe or both areas of spirituality. A Gobela must have the ability to do proper diagnosis and administer proper treatment. After initiation, you need to recruit at least two initiates to thwasa under you.

LIKE ANY OTHER SCHOOL, EPHEHLWENI HAS RULES AND ETHICS AS WELL, THEY ARE AS FOLLOWS:

*Initiates are expected to wake up in the early hours of the morning before any other person wakes up.

*Initiates should conform to a set dress code

*No alcohol

*No sex or sexual favours are allowed.

*Initiates should not be charged monies for beers (for rituals) or blankets, nor are they required to give luxury gifts to the Gobela and his or her family, unless it is a choice they made by iThwasa.

HOW MANY SPIRITS ARE THERE?

In isiZulu, there are seven spirits. There are things that happen to your body and certain dreams that will let you know what kind of spirit you have, ISIBONELO: uMndawe, uMnguni, uMdinki, Amakilimane, uMlozi, Isithunywa or Amabutho. Amabutho are the spirits of soldiers who were cast away, commonly known as the warriors.

What informs the spirit of what you have is private, I can assure you. However, nothing happens unless an ancestor comes to you says ‘I want you to do this and that.’  Uma usuyinyanga, usukhulile.



About us

We’ll Not Change The World Ourselves. But We’ll Spark The Minds That Do.
Read More

CONTACT US




Newsletter





Will be used in accordance with our Privacy Policy