A Limpopo ANC parliamentarian who has prevailed in a number of legal battles against the governing party has caused a stir after video footage of her slaughtering a chicken with her teeth went viral on social media.
The video, which appeared on the social media site X (previously known as Twitter), shows MP Ponani Makhubele performing an unconventional act of slaughtering a chicken with her teeth.
Makhubele, wearing a traditional healing dress, is seen gently approaching the banks of a tranquil river, where she performs a ceremonial rite, cutting the head of a chicken with her teeth. She is then seen tossing the chicken offering into the waters of the stream.
Several members of the X community have called the conduct “barbaric,” while also claiming that she was capable of murder. However, a collective of South African spiritual practitioners has lambasted anyone who equates a traditional ritual to murder.
The Ikhwelo Healers Collective is a formation that includes traditional healers, cannabis growers, herbalists, reiki practitioners, nutritionists, ayuvhedists, diviners, and artists who identify as healers.
“To say that a traditional healer performing a spiritual ritual with a chicken is equal to a murderer is an insult to indigenous knowledge and reveals a lack of understanding of the sacred relationship between animals, humans, nature, and the spirit world.
“It is, in fact, equal to saying that all those who eat meat are murderers. Such is the sadness of internalised colonization of the soul, spirit, and mind and the depth of its wounding to the post-colonised being. We need medicine for our minds, souls, and spirits to un/learn,” said Dr. Fikile Vilakazi-Alberts, a senior member of the collective.
Vilakazi-Alberts added that there was an urgent need for Africans to be decolonised.
“Chickens have been a part of sacred rituals for more than 8,000 years in varied traditions, cultures, and spiritualities around the world, not just in Africa. They symbolise varied goddesses and rituals of strength, war, peace, fertility, harmony, cleansing, and sacrifice, amongst many other symbolisms and meanings.
“Such rituals have existed since ancient Christianity, Judaism, Greek mythology, Chinese, Japanese, Roman, and the Americas. It is everywhere. Queendoms and Kingdoms of the world since ancient Kemit have been practicing such sacred rituals. Honestly, only a colonised mindset can see such an act as pure murder,” Vilakazi-Alberts said.
Traditional healer, Gogo Rebecca, also a part of the collective, said although she wouldn’t use her teeth for slaughtering, it appeared the chicken did not suffer because the slaughtering took less than five seconds.
“It wouldn’t be my personal method, but healing practices aren’t homogenous. As long as animals are being sacrificed in the most humane and compassionate way possible, that is what matters too, and this ties in with your words in interrelationships,” said Gogo Rebecca. “Slaughtering by mouth is common in Vodun. Look at the colonial gaze and oppression of those living in Benin and other geographic locations. It also appears that [Makhubele] is skilled in doing so.”
Although declining to comment directly to African Times, Makhubele took to her X page, where she wrote that she did not care what others thought of her ritual.
“At the end it’s not about what you think but what I believe is correct. I enjoy this. We laugh and play, then we get serious. If you saw something different somewhere it’s okay, it’s called spiritual because it’s not a uniform approach.
“We don’t read what’s written and practice, [but] we do what our spirits tell us. Even if [we] went to same Gobela, our practices would still differ as everyone works by instructions of their own ancestors,” she said.
Despite differences with the party, Makhubele remains a loyal member of the ANC. In April 2021, she was granted a favourable judgement that compelled the ANC to compensate her for damages.
This came after the ANC ignored a May 2019 court order instructing the party to include her on the ANC’s roster of members sent to serve as permanent members of the NCOP after her name was omitted.
The Johannesburg High Court ordered the to ANC pay Makhubele an amount in excess of R1 million to mitigate an 18-month period in which the party flagrantly failed to comply with the 2019 court order.
Speaking to African Times at the time, Makhubele stated that her actions were not geared toward engaging in confrontation with the ANC. Her noble cause, on the other hand, was based on fighting structural inequities and abusive behaviors within the organisation.
“I am not fighting the ANC; I just want what is rightfully mine and also to regain my financial freedom because the whole case has left me broke. I tried to resolve the matter with the party internally, but unfortunately, we failed,” she said at the time. “I survived on handouts because of the delays caused by the party in taking me to parliament. Now I can say I am happy, and I hope the movement can do the right thing so that I continue to serve it with diligence.”