“Would you like some coffee?”

{Never before has that one strand of mundane morning interrogative led to such an interesting conclusion.}

“No thanks, I’m fasting.”

{I go to make the coffee, and return with another question}

“Oh. Okay. To which ibandla do you belong?”

“ama-12 Apostles”

“Okay.”

{I’ve never heard of them – though the Apostolic Faith in particular, and African Traditional Christianity in general, is not strange to me}

“We’re fasting because we’re going to a prayer session this evening.”

“What are you praying for?”

“One of the abazalwane is sick, and we are praying for them to be better. There will be abapolofithi there, and we will all pray over them.”

“Ah, okay. And so why are you fasting, then?”

“We cannot eat because if we go there with full bellies then the power of God will not work through us. If we fill ourselves up with solid food then we will not be able to channel the divine power.”

{I understand this, and nod while pouring the coffee. I stir in the uju lwenyosi, until the fragrance of blue-gums overlays the bitter blackness. Another question comes.}

“Uphethwe yini yena?”

{By what is s/he afflicted?}

“Akalali ebusuku, ehlushwa yisipoki endlini.”

{S/he doesn’t sleep at night, on account of being troubled by a ghost in the house}

“Indiki? Ngempela? Yoh. Kunzima lokhu.”

{A wandering spirit? Really? Yoh. That’s heavy.}

“Ehhe, kunzima.”

{Yes, it’s heavy.}

“So… Nenzeni namuhlanje? Senizoxosha lo moya omubi kuye?

{So… What are y’all doing today? Are you now going to chase this evil spirit from him/her?}

“Yebo.”

{Yes}

{Now I’m really jealous. It’s been a really long time since I attended a good old-fashioned exorcism.}

“Ngakho-ke abapolofithi bazomthandazela, bathi: Ngegama lenkosi yethu Jesu Khrestu, phuma kulo mzalwane wakho, moya omubi, ndiki, phuma Sathane!”

{So the prophets will pray for them, saying: In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, leave this your follower, evil spirit, wandering spirit, leave Satan!”}

“Ehhe, kunjalo! Bazomthandazela bamfakela nezandla bambusise. Futhi abapolofithi bazokhuluma nalo moya omubi ngoba bangawubona ngamehlo, bangaqonda izilimi zawo.”

{Yeah, that’s it! They’ll pray over him/her and lay hands on him/her and bless him/her. Moreover the prophets will speak with that evil spirit because they can see them with their eyes, and can understand their languages.}

{The conversation now veers towards a discussion of the magical properties of the sea, the demon known as Legion, dietary restrictions against fish and pork, and a final glance at exorcism in different cultures. Like I said, all that for asking about a cup of coffee.}