A South African man has died after trying to communicate with a swarm of bees that he believed represented his ancestors.
Nkosentsha Njimbana, 58, was stung to death by the angry bees after he attempted to communicate with them after they flew into his home in the South African city of Qonce, in the Eastern Cape province.
The incident took place on 4th November but has only come to light now.
An expert in local traditions reportedly believes that Njimbana’s tragic death is proof that the man’s ancestors were angry.
His family, however, is said to be devastated by Njimbana’s, which took place during a traditional ceremony.
His younger brother Mandla said that the ceremony took place one week after the bees gathered in one of the family’s huts, known as a rondavel hut, which is traditionally built in stone in a round shape with a thatch roof.
Mandla said that the ceremony is known as ‘ukugxotha iinyosi’ in the Xhosa language, which means ‘dispersing of bees’ in English. Xhosa is spoken by millions of people in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Some African cultures believe that ancestors visit the living in the shape of bees as well as water monitor lizards, often to remind them of the rituals that they need to perform, according to local media.
Mandla said that his brother had consulted with a healer, known as a ‘sangoma’ and that he had been telling the bees that he would perform all the outstanding rituals soon when the attack took place.
Mandla is quoted in South African media are saying: “This is the most painful thing ever to befall our family. We don’t understand why they were so angry with him, yet he had welcomed them to his home. He never tried to violently chase them away.”
Local media quoted Loyiso Nqevu, a spokesperson and traditional expert with the Inkolo Kantu Traditional Organisation as saying that after a water monitor lizard or bees are found in a home, it is important for the family to seek answers from traditional healers to find out what kind of ceremony is required to appease the ancestors.
Nqevu reportedly thinks that the cause of the deadly incident during the ritual ceremony at Njimbana’s home might have been as a result of him failing to correctly decode the message his ancestors were trying to communicate to him.
He said: “This is the welcoming ceremony. If you are a Xhosa person, you don’t run away and call municipal workers to remove the bees because bees are your visitors.”
Nqevu added: “They are your ancestors. You talk to them and acknowledge their arrival with the gifts and promise to return to them in due course while you go to find out the purpose of their visit.”
One of the gifts that the family is expected to make for the bees is a traditional beer called ‘umqombothi’, according to Nqevu.
The leader of the family is then said to humbly ask the bees full-time to save up money for the ritual ceremonies, which can often cost a lot of money.
Nqevu told local media that the swarm of bees were then supposed to leave the home after the ceremony.