Last month, in the city of Qonce (South Africa), a swarm of bees ascended upon the home of a 58-year-old man named Nkosentsha Njimbana, who willingly allowed them to enter because he believed they were messengers from his ancestors. Nkosentsha’s philosophical belief stemmed from a traditional notion shared amongst some South Africans, which indicates that deceased family members can visit you in the form of bees.

Following the encounter, Nkosentsha sought the advice of a spiritual healer who suggested that he go through with a Xhosa ritual called ‘ukugxotha iinyosi’ to communicate with the dead. As a result, the bees stung him to death. Following the tragic occurrence, Njimbana’s younger brother, Mandla, shared his belief that perhaps his brother’s passing could be attributed to the fact that their ancestors were angry with him.

“This is the most painful thing ever to befall our family,” 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.”

Loyiso Nqevu, a representative from the Inkolo Kantu Traditional Organisation, also shared that theory.

“This is the welcoming ceremony, Loyiso said. “If you are a Xhosa person, you don’t run away and call municipal workers to remove the bees because bees are your visitors.”

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