A man has been stung to death after trying to talk to a swam of bees he believed were reincarnations of his ancestors in South Africa.
Nkosentsha Njimbana, 58, died at his Zalara home outside Qonce on November 5 after speaking to the bees during a traditional ceremony.
In some African cultures, it is believed that ancestors visit their living relatives in the form of bees or lizards, often to warn the family to perform the correct traditional rituals.
Bees had nested in Nkosentsha’s property in Eastern Cape, which his brother said he took as a sign that his ancestors had come to visit him.
Traditional spokesperson Loyiso Nqevu, speaking to News24, said the incident reveals the wrath of the ancestors.
After consulting a sangoma, a traditional healer among the Zulu peoples, Nkosentsha returned to perform the ‘ukugxotha iinyosi’ ritual — known as the dispersing of the bees — to try and interpret their message.
Nqevu said failing to decode the ancestors’ message may have caused the bees to turn on him.
‘This is the most painful thing ever to befall our family,’ the man’s brother Mandla said. ‘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.’
The spirits of ancestors can also be reincarnated into water monitor lizards, according to the traditional healers.
Nqevu said once a water monitor lizard or bees enter a home, the family must consult traditional healers to understand what ceremony needs to be performed.
One method is for the family leader to go to the swarm of bees with a glass of soda drink, sugar in a saucer and a glass of brandy, and place them in front of the bees, he said.
Many of the ceremonies are expensive, with families having to save up for months to afford them.
Siani Tinley, the metro’s general manager for marine and zoo amenities, said hiring professional bee removers or beekeepers was the only way to safely get rid of the bees.
‘Both animals and people get killed from too many bee stings, and bees get quite aggressive very fast when an inexperienced person uses poison or other substance to remove them,’ said Tinley.
‘The beekeepers know how to read the bees and how to relocate them in an environmentally friendly way.’
Bee strings often have phospholipase venom which can cause blood clotting.