by Johann

Sipwe's journey begins

 

 

Sipwe, a young man in his early twenties, living in a small village in the foothills of the mighty Drakensberg mountain range in Southern Africa, is very pensive as he walks the 15 km to the nearest 'big' town. He is going to see the wise old man sitting in the square under the “iNdaba” tree.

 

This has been the place, under the iNdaba Tree, where for eons, the elders of the villages would meet and discuss and resolve communal issues and disputes. Meetings could sometimes go on for days and always accompanied by copious calabashes of sorghum beer, an alcoholic drink made from fermented from maize.

 

Sipwe had a burning question that he needed answers to. Sipwe has been a very thoughtful but restless boy, even more evident now that he is a young man. He is always searching for higher meaning in his, and the lives of his family. He is not exactly sure what he is looking for, but he feels it all the time. All his actions and thoughts are driven by this search within himself. It has at times brought him into conflict with his traditional father and other elders in the village.

 

His father Sipho, a wise man himself, often suggested to Sipwe that life is a journey. A journey that every man, woman and their children undertake until death comes and lay one to rest. Sipwe then asked on numerous occasions “How long is the journey, what is the destination and when will I get there?”, to which Sipho always replied “You will know when you get there”. Sipwe found this very confusing. How can you go somewhere if you don't know where to go? How do you know how long it will take, what to take with you for the journey? How will you know when and if you have arrived?

 

To which Sipho just warmly says, “Sipwe, you will know all the answers when you get there”.

 

Finally Sipwe decided to go and speak with Dinganiwa, the wise old man. Tentatively he approaches Dinganiwa sitting on an exposed large root of the iNdaba tree.

 

“Molo, baba Dinganiwa, kunjani we?”. “Molo umfaniwe, I am well and you too”. “Shala pansi (sit down) and let us talk” Nervously Sipwe sat down and looked at Dinganiwe and says “Dinganiwe, I come for your help. I want to know why my father always tells me that life is a journey and even though the destination is not known, I will know when I get there, how I got there and why I ended up there?”. Dinganiwa says very softly “ Issh “, an expression indicating “I need to think about this for a moment” accompanied by a shaking head.

 

“Sipwe, I think your father is right! He is teaching you well and you will become a strong man amongst other men. Sipho is right about the most important lesson, which is you will know all the answers when you get there!“. “I think you have to go on your journey now, leave the village, look towards the distance and start your journey.” Sipwe felt dismayed and said “I have not received any answer or wisdom today, and the question is still the same. How will I know my destination?”.

 

To this Dinganiwa just replied “Sipwe, he who knows the destination never learns the way. And for you dear Sipwe, he who knows not one thing, knows another”. Finally, Sipwe started to understand and decided to tackle his journey free of doubt!

Johann Taljaard

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