Waking up to the rain, on this morning of all mornings, this word is in my head.

Usually, it’s accompanied – esikaNandi. In recorded Zulu memory, the greatest lamentation ever felt is idiomatically captured as “the lamentation of Nandi”.

EsikaMadiba. Namuhlanje sikhala isililo sikaMadiba.

isiLilo is the wailing, the lamentation, over the dead. It consumes everything. All normal life comes to a stop.

This rain does not put it out. It is not umLilo, the fire that cleanses and ravages and burns away so that new life can begin. There is no warmth in it.

Masimlilisele ngezililo, bakwethu. Akekho ofana naye.