A personal tribute to Thsomi ‘Ncinci’ Dukisani by Shepi Mati
Mangwana o tshwara thipa ka bohaleng. (A mother holds the knife at its sharpest edge)
These days we have become used to counting days by the number of funerals we attend. Whenever a relative calls, you brace yourself for yet another announcement of death – ukubikwa komphanga.
Among the legions who have departed the earth this week was the almost 97-year-old Thsomi Dukisani. A mother to my friend and classmate Monde and my comrade Phila, she was popularly known as Ncinci.
I did not grow up knowing Ncinci. But I grew up under the Ncincis of this world. They belonged to a generation which responded to teaching as a calling.
Ncinci was a teacher who brought up freedom fighters. She was a mother and guardian to generations of men and women of this town.
We have families here who testify to three generations educated by Ncinci. She was a sage – isisele senyathi.
Gender activist and public intellectual Nomkhitha Gysman remembers Ncinci traveling 900 kilometres to //Hui !Gaeb (where the clouds gather) as Cape Town is known to the Khoi people and crossing the Atlantic ocean to go and visit her son Phila on Robben Island, where he was incarcerated for resisting apartheid. He was following in the footsteps of Makhanda ka Nxele whose name this town carries.
Ncinci was risking deeply held taboos and rituals of an indigenous knowledge system in which a twin is forbidden to go anywhere near the ocean without making an offering to clear the way.
Just a few years back, we bade farewell to Ncinci’s family friend, elder sister, sage and midwife – ‘Unesi’ Cethu. She had lived to 106 years. At her last birthday celebration, I heard stories of how whenever she was seen by children with her signature delivery case entering a household in a street, everyone knew there would soon be a new baby there.
This gave birth to a legend that she carried these new babies in that brown school suitcase and delivered them to the households she visited. Somehow, she and Ncinci were tied together by an umbilical cord of service to the community.
The children whom ‘Unesi’ delivered went on to learn the ABCs at the hands of teacher Ncinci. As the elders of this community, the Reverend and Dr Tisani say in a message of condolence to Phila and family, “Our experience of bereavement as we lost mothers makes it possible for us to painfully identify. The time had definitely come for Mama to repose and rest after many years of toil.”
The recent departure of your sister would have had its after effect on her. As the Makhanda community we must remain indebted to a mother who has contributed so much in terms of her offspring.”
Izisele zenyathi ziyanduluka Mawethu. Iimbongi nababhali bembhali phakathi kwethu mabathathe iintsiba neetyesi zabo bakhongozele lamanzi ampopoza kulamachibi olwazi nobulumko azezinkonde neenkondekazi ukuze izizukulwana ze Afrika zingatshabalali lunxano lolwazi.
Tributes to Nontsikelelo Florence Dukisani
Message from the Principal of Tantyi Primary School, Priscilla Glover
The Tantyi Primary School community send condolences to Ms Nkayi’s family and friends, knowing that we benefit still from her good work at this school. She had a positive influence on many people here reaching forward through the generations well into the future.
Message from Bishop Ebenezer Ntlali
May her soul rest in peace and rise in glory. Usebenzile wasishiya emithandazweni. Uthixo ngowakhe ngo Nyana wakhe makaso meleze sonke silale ngenxeba. Be blessed and keep safe.
Tribute from Reverend Ezra Tisani and Dr Thami Tisani
We are sorry to hear this morning of the passing on of your mother. Our experience of bereavement as we lost mothers makes it possible for us to painfully identify. Time had definitely come for Mama to repose and rest after many years of toil. The departure of your sister recently would have had its after effect on her. As the Makhanda community we remain indebted to a mother who has contributed so much to and through her offspring.