Tuesday, November 06, 2007

One hundred and one Swaziland destinations - #20: Durban’s tokolosh-slayer

My sidewalk purchases.

A few weeks ago, I traveled to a town near Durban to help give a week-long advanced pediatric HIV care and treatment training. The drive to Durban is just under 6 hours from Mbabane.

The following is one in a series of several Durban sites worth checking out.

The two medicinal potpourris pictured above were purchased from a traditional healer who dispensed from a sidewalk beneath an old rusty bridge near a congested marketplace in an out-of-the-way, allegedly “unsafe” part of Durban. (Come to think of it, maybe I should not wholly endorse this particular destination.)

The concoction near the top of the photo (the one that looks like woodchips), is for making tea. The ingredients, if mixed in cold water, are designed to bring the drinker good luck. According to the sidewalk healer, if mixed in hot water, the mixture is potentially deadly.

The other product, which looks like leftover, overcooked, de-skewered shish kebab, is meant to be scattered around ones property to protect against the Tokolosh. The Tokolosh is a mischevious spirit with origins in Zulu mythology. He is said to have only one arm and one leg, the face of an old man on a boy's body (and, for those interested in looking it up, other more explicit anatomical features). The venerable Tokolosh can become invisible by swallowing a pebble and he likes women, sour milk, and fighting. If you manage to fight him and win, however, he will teach you magic and the art of healing.

I think that is what the entrepreneur selling these off-beat, magical wares must have achieved prior to my arrival.


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