A time for goodies, rituals that tug at heartstrings

The festive season has begun and Johannesburg is teeming with crowds that shop till they drop.

The festive season has begun and Johannesburg is teeming with crowds that shop till they drop.

The malls are packed with young couples holding hands. The young fathers usually have the latest fashion fad, the baby, strapped to their chests.

When I mentioned this scene, which makes me mushy inside, I was corrected by Pinky, our Model C person. She said the fathers dump the babies as soon as they reach home, just like mummy does when she puts her handbag away.

The other commuters then discussed their holiday plans. Auntie Emma said she was going to Zululand for Christmas. Several of her relatives died during the year and she had been unable to see them off.

She said she would buy a big plastic container of baked goodies so her family would welcome her with open arms. She antici- pated that they would slaughter a goat for her homecoming and there would be lots of food.

Pinky said she was off to Mauritius with her new flame and would only return in the new year. She had to tell her father a tall tale, about a team-building exercise deep in the Drakensberg, to be able to go.

Sisi Ella surprised us by saying she was going to a tiny village in the Ciskei (Eastern Cape). We did not know she was Xhosa because of her Sesotho surname.

She still uses the Bantustan name because the place has not changed at all. She waxed lyrical about the pastoral beauty of the village, the smiling cows or chickens - perhaps she was the one who was smiling at the thought of greeting these chickens.

Everyone else was going out of the city except me. When pressed, I had to confess that my Isigodi (birthplace) was right here in Gauteng, in Marabastad.

My grandmother had once vaguely spoken of a place called Bloemhof where her father came from. I have never known her to visit the place and I have no memories or relatives from that unknown place.

My Isigodi is right here in Gauteng, in Toekas. This is the place that tugs at my heartstrings. I have no yearning for a specific ancestral acre that is home to presumed forefathers.

Auntie Emma said my grandmother had failed to do her duty. I should have been taken to that Isigodi for tribal and family rituals.

She said every child deserved to know where she came from and that visits to Isigodi strengthen the tribal and national bonds.

I am not sure about this as the only ritual I remember my grandmother performing was to pack us off to the Methodist Church each Sunday for a long, dreary service.

Afterwards, we would have custard and jelly which went some way to make up for going to church.

I will have dessert on Christmas day in remembrance of all my loved ones.