Ladies of iTongo – Queen of Earth

iTongo Tarot CardOur final lady of iTongo this month is Queen of Mavhele (Coins/Earth) we pay homage to our earth mother Modjadji, the Rain queens of the BaLoBedu.

In a country where rain means the difference between life and death, the ability to control it is a most valuable gift. This gift is about abundance, fertility and growth.

What do we learn from Modjadji? Through our gifts we are able to nurture, guide and support others. We act with generosity and patience. As light workers we understand that we act as the agents of transformation, we nurture, push and advise but their issues are not our issues. We do not take up the burdens of others. Each one of us needs to take responsibility for our own choices and ultimately the outcome.

In business, there are people known as rainmakers. These are people who bring in new business ‘almost like magic’, and are often key figures within their community or organization. These people are ‘connected’. To the universe of possibility, and the ability to recognize an opportunity when it presents and to have the will to see it through.

Let your imagination flow with the rhythm and timing of life. Protect the earth and all her treasure, be aware of the foot print you leave behind. Take responsibility for your choices and your position. Be prepared for growth. Immortality comes from what you leave behind.

Make it Rain!

Modjadji – The Rain Queen

The legend of the Lovedu people of South Africa includes the deity known as Modjadji, the Rain Queen, who has the power to cause rain to fall on her people and send drought to their enemies. The land of Modjadji is known as LoBedu (land of offerings) and her people as the BaLoBedu.

In a savage world of ceaseless warfare and oppression, this small tribe was left unscathed for fear that the awesome queen would take umbrage and curse offenders by withholding the precious rain. The Zulu held her in awe and called her Mabelamane.

Modjadji I lived in isolation and was beautiful, wise, and immortal. The impenetrable wall of mystique around her person and power brought her fame, and led to the weaving of many myths and legends. Immortality is achieved by the succession of the queens. The secrets are imparted to the successor just before the death of the queen. The new queen must accept the inevitable ending of any career and/or public life she may already have embarked upon, thus ensuring that Modjadji (meaning ruler of the day) continues. The second Rain Queen, Masalanabo Modjadji is said to have been the inspiration for H. Rider Haggard’s novel, She: A History of Adventure.  She also is said to have inspired the song ‘She’ written and originally recorded by Charles Aznevor was made popular in the sound track from Notting-hill sung by Elvis Costello.

The current status of the Rain Queen dynasy. After the death of her grandmother, Rain Queen Mokope Constance was crowned the sixth rain queen on 16 April 2003. This made her the youngest queen in the history of the BaLoBedu tribe. She died on 10 June 2005 at the age of 27. A son, Prince Lekukena (b. 1998) and a daughter, Princess Masalanabo (b.2005), survive her. Since Princess Masalanabo is fathered by a commoner, traditionalists are not likely to accept her as the rightful heiress to the Rain Queen crown. There is concern that the 200 year-old dynasty may come to an end.

iTongo Ladies of Water (Cups)

“wathint’abafazi wathint’imbhokoto uzakufa” (you touch a woman you dislodge a boulder, you will be crushed) captures the essence of this feminine power. Our iTongo ladies of Water (Cups) Queen Mantatisi (Four of Water) and Queen maMohato maBela (Queen of Moritsoana) – Great wife of Moshoeshoe I epitomise feminine power in action. In a patriarchal society both women had to rise above their stations and circumstances and take control of their lives, their families and their communities.

What do we learn from them? We are the Mothers of Light. We need a strong sense of our individuality to manifest our passions in a practical way. Ego should not be about the idealisation of self, but rather a consciousness of our characteristics and powers. We need to use all that we are for the greater good.

The element of Water represents our emotions, feelings, hope, intuition, dreams and visions.

We determine the quality of our experiences. When we are warm and outgoing with a solid faith in our abilities, expressing self assurance, we find that our thoughts, ideas and wishes are positively received and responded to. When we disengage with ourselves, from our truth and our essence then we may find that life is difficult. Opportunities seem to pass us by and the people we interact with seem to be closed to our needs and desires.

Last week we celebrated Women’s Day and we need to take inspiration from the women of history who showed us that we can achieve anything when we stand together. Power in numbers and solidarity for common goals and standing up for what is right, even in the face of danger.  Our personal integrity should not allow us to stand back and do nothing when a woman is abused. We should not turn away, because we ‘don’t want to get involved’. We need to be there as support, to comfort and to protect our women.

The rate of sexual violence in South Africa  is among the highest in the world. An estimated of 500,000 rape cases take place in the country, every year. Children are now playing a game called “Rape, Rape”.  Only when we have truly become centred and strong within ourselves, when we have absolute faith in our abilities and live with vigour and strength – then we can ‘Run with the Wolves, and shop with the poodles.’ live our lives with grace and compassion. When we are able to nurture and create life within us and around us can we stand up and shout – I am Woman, Hear me Roar!

iTongo Tarot CardQueen Mantatisi (1781-1836) was the Commander of the Batlokoa of Southern Africa, and was perhaps one of the most well-known and feared women military leaders during the early 19th century. She was the daughter of Chief Mothaba of the Basia in the Harrismith District; the area that was later named the Orange Free State.

She married Mokotjo, the chief of the neighbouring Batlokoa. Mokotjo died while their son, Sekonyela, was still too young to take over control of the chieftaincy. As a result, Mantatisi assumed control and acted as regent. Reports claim that Mantatisi was a tall, attractive woman who bore her husband four sons.

After her husband’s death, her clan suffered a series of military encroachments by the AmaHlubi clans who were fleeing their homes in neighbouring Natal and Zululand. According to historians, Mantatisi took the Batlokoa into the Caledon Valley where, after seizing crops and cattle, they drove out the more peaceful Sotho clans living in that area. Her reign of military conquest extended as far as central modern day Botswana. At the height of her military and political power, her army numbered forty thousand warriors. However, she eventually suffered a series of defeats beginning in Bechuanaland in January 1823.  After Mantatisi’s son, Sekonyele, reached maturity, he took control of the Batlokoa social structures and military arm. Eventually, he was conquered by Moshoeshoe I, son of a chief of the Bakoteli – a branch of the Kwêna (Crocodile) clan.

 iTongo Tarot CardmaMohato maBela – Great wife of Moshoeshoe I
The oral traditions of the Basotho reflect the importance of women when forging political and military alliances through marriage. Ancestry and family connections were important to the social structure of the Basotho and are one of the reasons why arranged marriages used to be a common occurrence, especially for the children of leaders and chiefs. One chief would betroth his daughter to another chief to secure alliances. The father incurred an obligation to help the husband and his family and vice-versa. 

The value of women is indicated by the fact that they were often captured in battle and were then ransomed back. While Moshoeshoe was still at Butha-Buthe two of his wives were captured by a MoFokeng chief, it is said that Moshoeshoe recaptured them in a counter attack. Sekonyela captured MaMohata in an attack at Thaba Bosiu; she was ransomed for six head of cattle.

MaMahato was a tall and strong woman. It is recorded that her marriage was a good one with mutual respect however there is a notation that MaMohato died in childbirth as a result of a harsh beating by her husband. Apparently, she had been unfaithful. The BaSotho saying “morena ke mosali” meaning “woman is chief’. Missionary D.F. Ellenberger (1835-1919) explains this as meaning “that even a chief must respect her and may not abuse or punish her, even though she may have provoked him”.

 

Ladies of Fire – Growth through Responsible Change

This week our two ladies of iTongo come from the Xhosa, People of the South, and their lives were intertwined by destiny.

In mid-1856, Nongqawuse believed she saw her ancestors in a pool of water in the Gxarha River. She claimed that the ancestors told her they would arise and sweep the British settlers into the sea, replenish the granaries and fill the kraals with healthy cattle. As an act of good faith, she said the Xhosa people should destroy their crops, the grain stores and kill their cattle. Those who refused would be turned into frogs, mice, and ants and blown into the sea by a mighty whirlwind.

Queen Suthu was a shrewd woman of substance and ruled alongside her son King Sandile. They were influenced by Nongqawuse and gave their blessing. Had they not done this, the terrible tragedy could have been averted.

What do we learn from these two ladies? We need to take responsibility for the choices we make. There is of course the danger of over reaching our capabilities and with that comes the burden of assuming responsibility. Sometimes life adds certain restrictions to our actions, which often delays our personal growth and blocks our energy. At times like this we need to remember that for every action there is a reaction, so we need to be mindful of our expressed intent.

When we are in a situation that could have possible negative outcomes, the best is to take a moment to reflect. Take a step back and reassess the possible damage. We need to understand our own power in action. What it takes to manifest our passions in a practical way. Simply allow that ray of light within to guide us. Be vigorous and strong within your self-assurance. Feel – think – act – change!

Remember to be gracious, warm and outgoing when approaching others or a situation. Maintain your personal integrity with maturity. These two ladies represent the feminine power in action.

iTongo Tarot CardTEN of ISIBANE (Fire/Wands) – People of the South – Key word – RESPONSIBILITY
Nongqawuse (c.1840 –1898) was the 14 year-old girl whose prophecies led to the Xhosa cattle-killing crisis of 1856–1857.

She predicted that the ancestors’ promise would be fulfilled on 18 February 1857 when the sun would rise as a blood sun, stand still in the sky, and then set again in the East. Chief Sandile, on hearing the prophecy from Nongqawuse’s uncle, Mhlakazi, ordered his followers to obey it.

For ten months, the Gcaleka acted as men possessed, killing their livestock, and destroying their crops until all that was left was their faith. The cattle-killing frenzy affected the whole of the Xhosa nation, and it is estimated that between 300,000 and 400,000 head of cattle were killed. It is reported that the Xhosa population dropped from 105 000 in January 1857 to 26 000 in December 1858.

As the appointed day dawned, a breeze blew off the sea and the Gcaleka people sat waiting. The sun rose, made its passage across the hot February sky, and set in silent majesty in the west. Darkness fell on a ruined people. Those left to rebuild the nation survived only through the help of neighbouring tribes and the Europeans.

Nongqawuse, fled to King Williamstown where she sought sanctuary with the British. There are conflicting reports of what became of her. Some believe she was sent to Robben Island, but there is no record of her ever having been there; others believe that she settled on a farm in the Alexandria district in the Eastern Cape. She died in 1898. Today, the valley where Nongqawuse met the spirits is still called Intlambo kaNongqawuse (Xhosa for Valley of Nongqawuse).

Queen of iSibane (Fire)QUEEN of ISIBANE (Fire/Wands) – People of the South – Key word – RADIANCE
Queen Suthu: According to Xhosa tradition, when a chief or king dies and the heir is under age, his mother, or uncle acts as regent on his behalf until he becomes a man.

Queen Suthu was the youngest wife of Chief Ngqika. She was a great beauty in her youth and a knowledgeable politician. On Ngqika’s death in 1829, Suthu became regent of the Rharhabe Xhosa on behalf of her son, Sandile, until he came of age. Suthu’s prestigious and important position was consistent with Xhosa tradition where the mother of the chief is always held in high esteem and occupies a place as major adviser and counsellor to her son.

Queen Suthu was a shrewd woman of substance and a survivor. She overcame witchcraft accusations in 1842 and was well known to British missionaries.  Because of her experience in dealing with the British, she often served as an emissary between tribes and the British officials and missionaries.

More than once, she appeared in court on behalf of her son Sandile when he was captured by the British during the War of the Axe in 1846. Sandile was shot by the British in 1878.

Queen Suthu attended church services frequently and was respected by the British; however, she would not tolerate their demands to desist from holding traditional ceremonies on the Christian Sabbath.

The Ladies of Air – Growth through Intellect

In South Africa, August is Womens Month  with National Womens day on 9 August.  This month I will be paying homage to the women of  iTongo Tarot.  Starting with The Ladies of Air.

Queen of SwordsQUEEN of ASSEGAI (Swords/Air) – People of the East
Nandi (the sweet one) kaBhebhe eLangeni (c.1760 – 1827) Daughter of Bhebhe, a chief of the Langeni tribe, and the mother of Shaka, King of the Zulu and the third wife of Senzangakhona, ruler of the Zulu chiefdom.

What do we learn from Nandi’s journey?
This was a woman who managed to maintain her dignity and focus, no matter what trials and tribulations she endured.  She had a single purpose, to have her son Shaka recognised as the true heir of the Zulu kingdom.  She was determined that Senzangakhona (Shaka’s father), would marry her and legitimise their son.  He offered a paltry sum for her Lobola, which she turned down (this lady knew her value) and legend has it that she settled on 50 head of cattle.

Even though she knew of the prophecy that one day her son would be murdered by his brothers, she pursued the throne, because she knew her son would be king.

“Nandi, daughter of Bhebhe, your first-born shall be king,
Giving birth to a mighty nation of blood stained spears and thundering black shields,
The conditions of the prophecy are that your son remembers
not to defy the ancestors by reaching for powers that are not of his heritage.
The heavens will destroy him from his own blood. “

Nandi was named Queen of Queens when Shaka became king of the Zulu.  She ruled alongside her son with realistic expectations, a sound philosophy and never shied away from difficulties.

iTongo Tarot CardOur next ‘Lady of Air’ is Shaka’s aunt Princess Mkabayi.  The adage “Behind every man is a woman of power” is a true reflection of the woman Princess Mkabayi was.  She had the ability to accept reality with a clear perspective.  She consolidated her resources and was not afraid to act on her thoughts.  She teaches us to follow through on our ideas, maintain harmony and balance within.  Move the focus from within and see the visible manifestation of our thoughts in our actions.

Princess Mkabayi was the elder sister of Senzangakhona, and daughter of King Jama.  She was one of a set of twins and according to Zulu custom, one twin should be sacrificed to avoid the death of one parent. Jama refused to kill one of the twins and so broke a well-established tradition. His wife, Queen Sikhombazana, died without bearing him further successors, and people believed this was a consequence of his act.

A woman of great intellect, Mkabayi presided over the reigns of four kings – King Senzangakhona, King Shaka, King Dingane, and King Mpande. They all drew on her wisdom and experience, and a famous phrase at the time was “Buzani ku Mkabayi”, which means “consult Mkabayi for any solution”.

The Four Kings
Senzangakhona kaJama (c.1762-1816), son of Jama, was chief of the Zulu clan from 1781 to 1816. During the chieftaincy of Senzangakhona, the house of Zulu was a small clan in the Mthethwa confederation, which was ruled by Dingiswayo.

Shaka kaSenzangakhona (c.1787-1828), son of Senzangakhona, ruled from 1816 to 1828. Shaka (sometimes spelled Tshaka, Tchaka or Chaka; sometimes referred to as Shaka Zulu; was the most influential leader of the Zulu empire.

Dingane kaSenzangakhona (c.1795-1840), son of Senzangakhona and half-brother of Shaka, ruled from 1828 to 1840. He came to power after assassinating his half-brother Shaka with the help of another brother, Mhlangana, and Shaka’s advisor, Mbopa.

Mpande kaSenzangakhona (1798-1872), son of Senzangakhona and half-brother of Shaka and Dingane, ruled between 1840 and 1872, making him the longest reigning Zulu king.