Cleansing, healing ceremony to be held at Freedom Park

Friday, March 27, 2009

Pretoria - A cleansing and healing ceremony will be performed at Freedom Park on Sunday to mark the return of the spirits of South African activists who died in Zambia during the liberation struggle.

The families of 60 of those who died will participate in the ceremony.

In Zambia's capital, Lusaka on Friday, traditional healers and churched performed sacred rituals to collect the spirits of South African men and women who died in various parts of the country to bring back to their birth place and finally lay them to rest.

The spirit of Ntate Motshadi and Mme Florence Mphosho are among those who will be laid to rest.

Freedom Park Trust Chief Executive Officer, Dr Wally Serote said the event would not only release the spirits of those who died in exile but also introduce closure for the bereaved families - a necessary step towards reconciliation.

"Our focus with these ceremonies has an overwhelming human element, our heroes and heroines died during the conflicts that bought us our freedom and it is befitting that they should be recognised and remembered in order to restore their dignity," Dr Serote said.

Throughout the world it is common practice that when people die, they are buried at home or somewhere that the family members have easy access to.

"Where individuals die on battlefields or where it is impossible to bring the physical remains home, Africans traditionally collect and return the spirit, so that it can be integrated with a pool of ancestors who will look after the living.

"The cleansing and healing and return of the spirits ceremony to be conducted is in accordance with indigenous belief that if someone dies beyond the borders of his or her country, family members should go to the place where the deceased fell and say prayers at the site," he explained.

The ceremony also includes collecting soil, rocks, amongst others and bringing it back to their home country for return.

Mr Serote said it was a tragic reality that a number of our countrymen and women died while in exile and will thus never return home.

The Freedom Park Trust has initiated a number of cleansing and healing ceremonies nationally as well as in Botswana, Swaziland and the United States to assist the South African nation in the process of forgiveness, closure and moving forward as a united nation.

William Mthimunye, whose brother, Sly died in 1982, while in Zambia said the cleansing and healing and return of the spirits help the families to heal the wounds of the past.

"Up to now, we were unable to obtain closure about the way in which my brother died as we were unable to visit his gravesite, after the cleansing and healing and return of the spirits ceremony, my brother will be back with us and we will be able to visit him and this means everything to us," Mr Mthimunye said.