This post has been a long time coming, because the words weren’t there. Similar to the post yokufemba, which I struggled with tremendously. I first interacted with the term amagobongo in 2015. I was just as confused as you are, wondering what exactly amagobongo were. Were they edible, tangible, meaty? What were they?
I have since discovered amagobongo are not meaty, though they’re edible and tangible. It is a regimen of medicine that is administered to a person who has a spiritual sickness, that is complex and cannot be sorted simply through divining and the holy trinity cleansing (futha, phalaza, geza). It tackles deeply entrenched generational malady and sickness due to many reasons. Perhaps one of your gogos or mkhulus wabalekela ubizo. Omunye probably died a violent death emgedeni somewhere and they’ve been restless since 19 whatever. Now bahlupha wena, the grandchild of mkhulu or gogo x.
Your dreams are plagued with snakes, water, caves, wild animals. Let’s just clear something up. This does NOT automatically a sangoma make. In other words, it doesn’t automatically point to a calling. Re mmoho neh? This may be your ancestor communicating that they need moetlo/isiko to be performed for them, in order for your spiritual malady to be cured. Enter amagobongo. Gogo Nnwatjakumba refers to amagobongo as “a litmus test for the kind of spiritual ailment you have.” By this logic, amagobongo bring to the fore the following: the person (ancestor) ya o kudisang; why their strife is coming through you and what ritual needs to be performed. Gogo Jhebu, refers to them as a spiritual antibiotic. Sometimes you find that your energy points are clogged due to many factors, and a once-off cleanse is not enough. You need a deeper cleanse over a period of time. Amagobongo ARE NOT ukuthwasa. I repeat, amagobongo are NOT ukuthwasa.
The healer leading this healing method, will give you 2 or 3 buckets zamagobongo, depending on how many you need. The ones that I know of are igobongo loMndiki, uMndawe neNono. Igobongo loMndawe is represented on the left hand side (maternal/feminine). uMndiki is represented on the right hand side (paternal/masculine). Igobonongo leNono is taken by people abahlushwa by the spirit of a child who died young (perhaps a sibling who feels unheard or thereabouts). In those buckets, there will be amayeza steeped in cold water. The person odla amagobongo uses a Y shaped stick, known as lefehlo in Sesotho, to froth up amagobongo and eat the foam. It is this foam that unclogs your energy points or acts as a litmus test for why you’re sick. Through the use of amagobongo, you and your family may discover traumas that occurred generations ago, that need healing in order for your lineage/generation to move forward.
You need patience, diligence and a knowing that you’re being healed at a deep level. It may take whatever amount of time your ancestors see fit. Because ukudla amagobongo is NOT ukuthwasa, you will eat them where you live. Uzophahla prior to taking them and tell izinyanya/badimo that you’re embarking on this journey. Your dreams will indicate where in the process you are and what kind of sickness is plaguing you. Perhaps you will need to thwasa after amagobongo. Perhaps not. Maybe there’s a rite of passage that skipped too many generations and your elders would like to rectify this. An important factor is communication with your healer. Tell them your dreams, even the stupid soundings ones. Dreams can have that “huh?” quality and your healer may be able to decipher where it’s at, wabo? Please don’t send me emails telling me you’ve been taking amagobongo for a week, but you haven’t dreamt of anything. This isn’t a drive-thru ya McDonald’s.
Patience is key. Yho, patience. It’s also a process that will need money so prepare financially (it isn’t always possible, especially when idlozi is doing mawololo in your life. Prepare yourself mentally. Remind yourself why you need this regimen. Prepare your heart. Dass all.
Lesedi bana ba bonkgono le bontatemoholo<3