Nowadays, while human beings are progressing in the field of technology, nowadays, when incredible new machines, such as computers have entered

our lives and will stay there forever, many of us human beings are retrogressing spiritually. We have lost the ability to love.

We have become the batterers of children and the torturers of women. Our people were bitterly against this in old Africa.

Throughout Southern Africa, our people referred to children, by a name with which they refer to kings and princes, regardless of what tribe they are.

In the Zulu language a child is called either umngane, a word which means to get married and umntwana, the Zulu word, with which we not only refer to children, but to princes and lesser chiefs.

Kirstenbosch sculpture birth

Our people believed that a child is not a new life form, but an old soul returning to earth in a new body, to go once more into the great cycle of re-incarnation.

Kirstenbosch sculpture birth

Our people believe that any person who tortures or troubles a child, or who allows a child to suffer, for any reason, forfeits his right to be referred to as a human being and becomes nothing more than a common demon.

Kirstenbosch sculpture children

In olden days, a man who battered children, a man who thrashed children without reason, often had both his ears cut off by a chief, as a lesson to others. A man who thrashed his wife, or wives, for no reason, was punished by having the thumb of his right hand amputated, usually with a red-hot knife.

According to African culture, abortion and infanticide are regarded as more terrible than murder. We did not start seeing women committing abortion, until we came into the early townships of Johannesburg in the 1930s.

Kirstenbosch sculpture mother and child

In the culture of my people, there were no orphans. In the culture of my people there were no old age homes. In the culture of my people there were no widows or widowers.

Kirstenbosch sculpture companions

In African culture, if you found an old man or an old woman roaming around in the bush having lost his or her family, for one reason or another, you were forced by law, to take this old person, bring him to your village and give to him or to her, the rights of full parenthood over yourself. He or she became your new parent, who had all the rights that a parent had over you.

If a child became orphaned, either through war, or through disease, you had to take that child into your home and bring it up as your very own. In fact, a child whom you had found this way, had to enjoy more rights in your home, than your natural children.

Our people practiced the laws of love, the laws of doing to others what they wished to be done unto them. Our people believed that love, understanding and respect are the three legs upon which the stool of the nation rested.

It was the duty of the Malume to keep close observation of what went on between the husband and his wife. It was the duty of the Malume to sort out any problems that arose and to extinguish any quarrels that appeared between man and wife. It was also the duty of the Malume, whose real name means ‘instructor’ to decide what to do if the man and woman’s children were running wild.

In an African family a child had to be corrected by its mother at first and later by the father, but if the child was a tear away, it became the duty of the Malume, to correct his child.

African parents of all tribes were forbidden from teaching their children about sexual matters. No mother or father was allowed to teach his or her son or daughter about the facts of life. That was the duty of the Malume, who sometimes had to find special instructors outside, to perform this task. Why?

Something that you learned from somebody you revere or fear is the last thing that you would be tempted to abuse or misuse.

Throughout his life, the Malume of a child had to be looked upon as a role model for the child. He was usually a warrior, a man who had seen much, who carried the scars of many battles, and who therefore, had to be respected by the children.

The children’s grandmother was the gentle wind. She taught the children with a gentle voice. With fables and legends and songs, she passed on instruction and knowledge as old as the mountains.

But a Malume had to be like fire, he was the hard man, an enforcer of discipline. He was the angry instructor. If a Malume taught you about the history of your people, he used to say to you: ‘Have you heard what I said?’ Will you remember all that I have told you?’ You would the child would say: ‘Yes Malume I will.’

And then the Malume would say: ‘come here!’ And you drew closer to the Malume and then he caught you by the shoulders and gave you a painful nip with his teeth on the lobe of your ear and tell you: ‘Never forget my child, never!’

To this day if an African wants very important information he will say to the person he wants the information from: ‘I ask you should bite my ear’. In other words: ‘I am asking you to give me information which I dare not forget afterwards.’

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