Learners with spiritual calling ejected from schools

Inam Mathokazi outside her school in Khayelitsha Cape Town. Photo from Facebook.

A calling to hear ancestral voices has got some learners suspended from school.

Learners who have an African spiritual calling face derision from their fellow school mates and suspension from school.

Inam Mathokazi, from Esangweni Secondary School in Kuyasa, is the most recent victim of this discrimination against learners who have a spiritual calling. Mathokazi, alongside other learners that wear traditional beads at the school, were told to not come back to the school. Inam’s mother was told to bring proof that her child won’t be sick again at school.

“The principal told me that in order for Inam to come back to school, I must bring proof from a traditional healer that states she won’t be sick again,” said Babalwa Mathokazi. The mother was confused, because no doctor could guarantee that. “Not even a medical doctor can provide proof that a patient won’t be sick again,” said Babalwa. “The only thing that prevents her from being sick are the beads she is told to not wear,” she added.

Inam, who is currently undergoing intwaso (initiation training), said only the principal had an issue with the beads. “The teachers are fine with us in class and they were confused when we all did not show up to school,” said Inam. “Even one of my teachers wears her traditional beads to school,” she added.

Following intervention by the community committee, parents and community traditional healers, the children are now back at school. “Everything has been fine since we came back, we still get treated normally by the other teachers,” said Inam.

Eastern Cape discrimination

Kwandokuhle Mguye (14) had her calling just when she hit her teenage years doing Grade 8 at Sakhisizwe High School in Mdantsane and it has not been a bed of roses. She has not attended school since mid- February when an altercation between her and a classmate broke out, ending up with her sangoma beads being scattered all over the classroom. The fight was then reported to the teachers who immediately suspended her.

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“Prior to the fight, I felt sick and went to the school toilets and on my way back to class I collapsed and I was rushed back to class and that’s when a classmate of mine started making jokes about my calling,” said Kwandokuhle.

Her suspension is still ongoing as no amicable solution has been reached after numerous meetings to resolve the issue. This has led to Kwandokuhle missing her first term examinations.

Her spiritual journey has not been easy ever since she accepted her calling, says her mother, Nopasika Mguye. “This is heartbreaking to witness as a parent seeing your child far in thoughts, spending day after day at home doing nothing.”

A meeting was held on the 22nd of March in Rubusane with the education department and relevant stakeholders as well as traditional healers advocating for Kwandokuhle. According to the department’s spokesperson, Malibongwe Mtima, no resolution was found but it was agreed that the school principal is to apologise to Kwandokuhle, and before Kwandokuhle goes back to school she is to meet a social worker that will counsel her on what happened.

Most of the learners that Elitsha spoke to feel that Kwandokuhle was unfairly discriminated against.

It is alleged that Kwandokuhle does consultation unwillingly to other learners, but no learner is aware of this allegation. “Kwandokuhle has frequent outbursts because of her calling but I have never seen her misbehave at school, said Siphiwokuhle Ncanywa, a Grade 11 learner at Sakhisizwe.

One of her classmates said that whenever Kwandokuhle cried in school because of her calling her classmates gave her nasty stares and made fun of her. “The teachers did not take this matter serious, but assumed Kwandokuhle was misbehaving, they failed to follow this thoroughly.” Most of Kwandokuhle’s classmates have no recollection of her misbehaving or disrupting the school at any point and expressed their deepest hurt over this as she is still young to be out of school.

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