“UMQOMBOTHI is for our ancestors. Amadlozi are thirsty and angry because they are not drinking umqombothi.”

These were the words of traditional healers who have pleaded with President Cyril Ramaphosa to allow the production of traditional beer.

The sangomas told Daily Sun their ancestors had been pleading for umqombothi since December. Sangoma Thabitha “Mahambayedwa” Sibanyoni from Ga-Motla in North West said the ancestors were angry and didn’t want excuses any more. She said they had lost communication with the ancestors over this.

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“We don’t even know our future as sangomas because we can’t communicate with our ancestors in an effective way,” she said.

Sangoma Thabitha Sibanyoni and her thwasa Given Dikgale says traditional beer Mqombothi must be sold during lockdown. Photos by Raymond Morare

Sangoma Kgothatso “Ubabamahlabezulu” Sibanyoni (21) said she didn’t dream any more because her ancestors were angry. She said people didn’t understand that sangomas couldn’t heal people when the ancestors were angry.

Traditional healer Misheck Nkambule from Mamelodi, Tshwane, said traditional beer also kept communities united.

Archbishop and Prophet Jan Sibanyoni of the Christian Church of God said: “I don’t see why traditional healers are not allowed to make umqombothi as they are not doing it for business.”

Madala Samson Jankie Seopa (67) from Ga-Motla said he loved umqombothi.

From left Sangoma Kgothatso Sibanyoni, thwasa Given Dikgale, Sangoma Thabitha Sibanyoni and Arch Bishop Jan Sibanyoni says traditional beer Mqombothi must be allowed during lockdown. Photos by Raymond Morare

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“This is our traditional beer and it’s difficult to live without it. To me, it’s like pap,” he said.

Sangoma Matshaya Tutu (39) from Philippi in Cape Town said the booze ban made it impossible to perform some rituals.

“All the ancestors want is their job to be done. They don’t know anything about the lockdown. We had to beg them for a grace period,” he said.

He said it was disrespectful to set a date with the ancestors for rituals and to keep postponing it.

“What makes it bad is that when the president addresses us again, we don’t know what he will say. It’s frustrating for us sangomas. Other doctors are allowed to work but we are not given respect,” he said.