Witchcraft Humor Style

by Nokubonga Mkhize

Witchcraft Humor Style

i was told once by my Jack Daniel’s yielding aunt at one of those impromptu secret meetings, held by select women at the end of a major family event, to always wear my confidence with a peculiar magic. My aunt always had a worldly aura about her which made her stand out from the other women. She exuded the wisdom of having purposely experienced the world but also  adored us in effortless synchrony. Anyway, as it turns out “peculiar magic” was an inside joke she shared with some of her college friends. One of them had cheekily referred to the practice of witchcraft in this regard. When from this i concluded, “You want me to be a witch?” enormous laughter followed- felt like my christening into the group much to my obvious joy. i had never spoken unless spoken to and even then as a formality. Like when one of the ladies needed to check their facts with me before they continued on with their story as i would have been present at said scenario. i was fourteen that year and had no idea what my sharp aunt meant or why what i said was so funny. i knew that i would someday master the secret language of the womanhood; it would not be lost in me for long.

The women consisted of every kind of distorted relation to the other, so deeply connected that the woman i mentioned earlier as my aunt is technically my grandfather’s stepsister’s cousin’s (from her father’s side) daughter. Those degrees of separation that have never matter in black families. i was christened into a family of women united in, among other things, complaining about the dwindling common sense and or hypocrisy in men. Pity over the fact that my hoarse, therefore seemingly mature voice could not make up for my recognisable non-genetic flat chest. It was unanimously ruled out as a possible curse placed on my mother by one of my father’s jealous former lovers while she was pregnant with me. Not forgetting the doomed marriage of whoever had just stepped out of the room; another addition to the kaleidoscope of children fathered by one of my uncles- nobody or subject was safe.

These conversations would go from being half justified, then completely outrageous but comical most of the time. It is then that i considered these adult women, together, more interesting than girls my own age. They awakened a different kind of freedom, perhaps the most important one for me and yet it completely went over my head. i always knew that with every rebellious effort my friends and i had gotten up to i was seeking or exercising freedom. i was looking further than the thrill; looking deeper to unlock something in me. it had nothing to do with people or attention. Subconsciously, i knew that the large group of friends was a necessity that inspired my own courage whenever we collectively set out for mischief. i loved knowing that there was something in these acts that would groom me to be the person i was destined to be.i felt if i didn’t do it, i would never live to see the potential. However being in the company of my aunts wasn’t typically badass, but why did i enjoy it more?

i was transfixed by time passing in their presence; engulfed in the video graphic detail of each facial expression, phonetic decryption of their dialogue- it was a numbing and quiet euphoria. This is the earliest time i remember admiring womanhood unconditionally and also the first exercise in comprehensive actualisation outside of an English test paper. My rebel days served as the gateway (wrist and shoulder tattoo later, a very expensive gateway) to self discovery. It took a while for me to realize that the chaos i created was not only intended to steer me towards self discovery and self acceptance as well. The acceptance of who i was would not come if i did not slowly embrace all of the things that brought me joy and to actively endure my bad experiences.

The women in my family all had their share of tougher times i was sure, you could sense it, someone always let out an awkwardly swept under the rug comment slip within the first half hour. Even when the shortcomings of one were unpacked, it was always approached in the most delicate art i have come to know; dark humor. Another telepathy i was excluded from; they did it effortlessly. i was always waiting for one of them to draw offence and start weeping but it never happened. i practiced this, i would always mimic one of them, when life proved torturous and unfair, i would think, “how would mamkhulu spin it?”

i had myself in stitches over my parents’ separation- the picture of a soon to be institutionalized patient. i laughed furiously on my bed all the way to the edge of it where i found myself wanting and hit the floor with little to no attempt at protecting my fall. i laid facing the ceiling to the reality of what it was, they were done, i was leaving with my mother. One should never laugh themselves to tears while laying on their back unless they’re prepared to be temporarily blind for the next five minutes. Be that as it may, it stuck, there will always be a lingering after taste when you have to return to or are facing your life problems. i learnt from the ladies to find a place where humor can reside as a silent coat of armour.

Wisdom teeth and a Memulo later, these days i get to relive this very same gossip-fueled celebration as an adult contributor. i have come to notice how much admin is involved in setting all of this up. My cousin is the initiator who will wander around cautiously alerting the women while as the facilitator, i look for the room furthest from the men. Kick out whoever is in it and mark this territory with the most substantial amount of liquid courage a group of women are legally allowed to have. Sisterhood embraces a lifetime. Women are a fine wine of wisdom in that smoky yet familiar after taste of a Cabernet. My family of women have shown me how to make it out in style.

Nokubonga Mkhize

The “i” small cap is a conscious imagery of not being bigger than the group.. The Cartesian principle is “I think therefore I am.” In Afrika we say, ”i am because we are and since we are, therefore i am.”