This blog post was inspired by a number of clients I have engaged with, who ask me how do you pray to God and phahla at the same time? Are the two not in conflict?
The dominant spiritual discourse is Christianity. The one that teaches you that the dead have no business with the living. It also teaches that communing with anything that isn’t Jesus, The Holy Spirit and God, is false, demonic and equates to worshiping other Gods. Manje the Christian God will strike you down because He is a jealous God and doesn’t share his followers with anyone. Then there is the concept of hell, a place so hot, that the souls of sinners and those who have not repented will burn for eternity Thiza, kubibibi!
I am reminded of a book I engaged with in my 3rd year Sociology class. The module was Trade Unionism and something, it was a couple of years ago, so my memory is foggy. The Book was titled The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism. Basically, The Protestant Ethic stated that monna o tla ja ka mofuftso wa phatla ya hae (Genesis 3:19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground). The PE teaches that you must work hard, exercise discipline and not spend money conspicuously or frivolously (be frugal), that way you would have followed The Protestant Ethic. Along with these principles, there was a fear instilled that discipline, hard work and frugality would get a disciple into heaven.
There is still the belief that if you work hard, you will be richly blessed by God. That you must be disciplined and not sin in order to get into heaven (Unalo na, itikiti lokungena ezulwini?). Pentecostalism teaches that you must be saved and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and saviour. By this logic, there is no space for any entity either than the holy trinity. Not badimo, not angels or ascended beings, not nature guardians, nada!
How then do you grow up and decide fuck it, this way of engaging with spirituality does not serve me, without feeling guilt and anxiety? This post is not meant to incite violence or hatred based on spirituality/religion, but it is an attempt to guide those who feel the dominant discourse no longer resonates with them.
In order to strengthen your wifi connection, you need to speak to badimo and pay attention to your dreams. This is the most overt way in which badimo connect with us. Hmmm maybe overt isn’t the right term, but you get where I’m going with this. Pay attention to the drwams and journal them. Be deliberate with the intentions you set while uphahla/communing with your ancestors or during prayer. Instead of being long winded, set an intention, pay attention to your dreams, and somewhere in there may lie your answer. It may come the night of the intention, a week later, a month later, ok’salayo it’ll come.
Let’s say you’ve been worried that your new interest in badimo is upsetting God and Jesus, and you want reassurance that you’re not sinning and you won’t end up in hell. You go to bed at 21:00, lie on your back, breathe deeply for 60 counts, then start thinking about your question. Hold that thought and emotional energy until you drift off to sleep. Somewhere between midnight and 03:00 you have a series of very vivid dreams amd you wake up from one of them with a jolt. You grab your phone, make a voice recording/ grab your journal and pen and start writing. This in short is the process of setting an intention, dreaming, recording and finding your answer. Make sense?
Basotho have a prayer that goes something along the lines of, “Modimo e motjha, rapela Modimo wa kgale…” For non-Sesotho speakers, this prayer is directed at the ‘New God’ (Modimo e motjha) to pray to the God of the ancestors/The Old God (Modimo wa kgale). That the God of the ancestors must intervene in human lives and other things. The name we use for God is Ramasedi (The one who provides light/enlightenment). When dingaka tsa Basotho greet each other, the one initiating the greeting says “Lesedi Nkgono.” while the respondent says, “Kganya ngwana badimo/Nkgono.” Lesedi can be loosely translated as ‘enlightenment/revelation’ while kganya can be translated as ‘brightness’. If Ramasedi provides light and enlightenment, kganya and lesedi are the children birthed by the giver of light. Therefore Badimo and Modimo cannot be in conflict with one another.
Whether you decide to phahla first, then pray or pray first then phahla, is completely up to you. Do what you’re comfortable with, be sincere and respectful.
Kganya le lesedi di abetswe lona <3