May 29, 2017, by Kgalalelo
I was born Kgalalelo Saane and in my family of birth, we often gather during the Easter weekend for a family reunion. This year we met again on the Saturday following Good Friday at our grandparents dwelling, in a village called Madibe a Makgabana in Mahikeng, South Africa. My father is the first born in the family of eleven children formulating the Saane clan. This is a place where my siblings and I used to visit during the school holidays when we were little. We would be called every morning to the kraal with our little steel mugs when the cows were milked to receive fresh milk. We’d never heard anything about pasteurisation and were as fit as a fiddle. The milk was warm coming from the cows and we would gulp quickly and ran back into the house. At times, we would have porridge with the milk from the kraal. It had a rich, creamy colour and tasted pure and originally without any preservatives.
I have had many wonderful times in the village over the years and even at present, when we have the opportunity to reunite as a family, it becomes one of the best times of my life. I travelled with my children and they were equally excited to meet their cousins and the rest of the family as we don’t really visit as often as we’d like to. Everyone is living their own lives and engaged in different things and priorities change as we grow older. To some, the Easter holidays were signified by church services from Friday through to Sunday to remember the crucifixion and rising of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Some denominations, however, only held services on the Sunday and the message preached would be combined. We therefore understood that some of the family members couldn’t make it to the family gathering as they needed to go to services from Friday and that was alright and those who could meet, carried on with the function.
The importance of the family in my history and knowledge stems from the creation of the human species as documented in the book of Genesis in the Bible when God created the first family unit by creating Adam and Eve and said to them “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). The family was God’s idea to expand the human race and to carry the mandate of caretaking the earth and all that was created. The enjoyment of life and all that God had created and provided also reigned supreme, therefore, humans where not created as robots, there is a pleasure and satisfaction in us coming together as families. Our union and celebrations are often proceeded by food and drinks to mark the unity and demonstrate love for each other.
In our family, we have developed a culture where family members are introduced openly per household that we may all know each other. We all acknowledge that it won’t always be possible to have everyone at the gatherings every time because of different engagements. So, those who are present, would be introduced and the next time we have another reunion, those who were not introduced would be introduced when present. We also acknowledge the new births that take place along the way. There is a Setswana proverb that says: “bana ba kgori monokana o sele, tshika fa e ya baneng e a kgaoga”, meaning, when families expand, the tie usually breaks when it gets to the children, hence the repeated introductions in my family.
The family system therefore, has existed for eons and it is critical that those who are born into families, understand their family tree and know where they come from, knowing their ancestral lines. We tend to lose some of the important features and customs of our families and ancestry when we do not gather as families and sometimes even emulate others without the proper understanding and background of how other people came to adopt and express certain rites. We end up getting lost in the mix and adopting things that we don’t have the contextual meaning of which might even harm us along the way. We have weaker vessels in families and in society who embrace easily things that might not serve them or their higher purpose but if we understand our upbringing and ask questions in an environment that is conducive for inquiring, we are able to choose for ourselves what to take forth and what to discard. We become more grounded and knowledgeable.
The Israelites when we read the Bible also understood where they came from, they were clear about their lineage. The expression the ‘God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’, runs through many scriptures which acknowledges their ancestry and what God did for them, meaning, the good and the inheritance that was due to the lineage, also applied to the Israelites that were living during those times and at present. There was full recognition of who their ancestors were.
Moreover, when the Israelites went to Egypt to look for food supplies as there was famine in their own land and they eventually settled there, it is recorded that the descendants of Israel were seventy in all and soon, God multiplied them and they increased and filled the land of Egypt. Even though they were exposed to hard labour in Egypt, their family unit never broke and God selected one of their own, who was raised an Egyptian, Moses, to rescue them from Egypt and lead them to the Promised Land. Throughout the course of their history however, their journey was eventful, the Israelites met other nations along the way and had intermarriages though God had commanded them not to marry outside of Israel. This was because other nations were worshipping false gods, therefore, the Israelites would be led astray if they intermarried.
The Bible is full of documentation of descent and therefore recognises ancestry right to the family tree of Jesus. There is acknowledgement of where Jesus physically comes from and His genealogy served a purpose which ultimately awakened us to the grace of God that abounds in our lives today. Our heritage therefore serves a purpose, all of us are born into families for a particular reason and we need to look at the spiritual meaning for our different families, what we have come to acquire, give and learn. There is a greater goal and most people believe that we didn’t choose our families of origin and often wonder why this family and not that one, especially when things are tough, however, the divine purpose made it possible for us to find ourselves where we are and it is up to us to increase our awareness to be able to understand the lessons and the gifts that are brought forth by our birth in a particular family.
I have been fortunate and blessed that I come from a family that is unified and that sees benefit in meeting whenever possible to rekindle the unit and strengthen relations. I know and understand that we all come from different backgrounds and what is possible for me might not be possible for others and vice versa but I am still grateful in anyway as my family has grounded me and still does. This is grace and we all experience it in different ways and in all aspects of life. Look for the gifts, blessings and the grace that is in your life. It might not be the possibilities of a cohesive family but there are hundreds of things that are working perfectly in your life that you can be grateful for and if you can be the catalyst in bringing your family together, how about trying!
Kgalalelo Saane Mphephuka
If you love to explore, observe and feel appreciation for God's goodness in your life, then you will feel right at home on this site.