Umsamo: tending to our ancestral hearth
Tanja Meyburgh and Lindiwe Mthembu- Salter
In the South African Zulu tradition, the Umsamo is the place in the homestead that is the shrine of the ancestors in the home. This place not only contains the precious keepsakes and ancestral symbols, but also the spirit of the ancestral lineage who are part of everyday life. In times of illness or calamity, one is required to tend the Umsamo which is both the act of visiting this place, as well as tending to one’s personal relationship with ancestors through pahla, ceremony or ritual.
As facilitators, when stepping into fields of victim and perpetrator dynamics, we need to tend to our own Umsamo, so that what may be hidden in our own ancestral fields, does not come from the unconscious to sabotage the reconciliation work we are trying to bring. In this self-care and self-development process of tending the Umsamo, we also find our resources, strength and resilience to face the healing that is needed for people, territories and nations.
Lindiwe, will share her experiences as a Zulu and a Black woman in a post-colonial and Apartheid South Africa, focusing her gaze on the concept of understanding internalized oppression. We know that every abuse, if not discharged or healed, could create a distress pattern of rigidity, destructive or ineffective feelings or behaviours in the victim of mistreatment or racism. Racism is a form of oppression that has been systematically initiated, encouraged and powerfully enforced by the the majority culture and their institutions. Tanja will speak to her experiences of pioneering constellations work in South Africa, and the tending of the personal Umsamo of her perpetrator ancestry while following the calling to bridge the divides between African and Western people and traditions.
Together, Tanja and Lindiwe, will share how to tend your own Umsamo in ways that honor the people, territories and nations from which you come, and in which you now live.