A BAREFOOT Transkei mystic, who gave up all his worldly possessions to go walkabout across South Africa preaching against greed and consumerism, says having nothing has in fact enriched his life.
Dressed in hessian robes made out of sisal strands harvested from the roadside, Sipho explained how liberating it was to throw away his identity documents and stop using his surname soon after he started his spiritual journey more than 10 years ago.
"I gave away everything I owned to walk thousands of kilometres from town to town, meeting people and telling them the key to happiness is to live a simple life.”
Inspired by the Bible and the Ten Commandments, Sipho says the problem with organised religion was that it had become more about making money than saving souls.
"The problem with the world is that the church and religion have become big business,” said Sipho, who insisted he was not Christian, but rather a "follower of the Creator”.
"Many pastors are greedy. They are more interested in money than the scriptures. They brainwash people into believing they are their only connection to the Creator; it is more about material wealth than spiritual wealth.”
Critical of men of the cloth who wear designer clothes and jewellery and drive fancy cars – while their congregants live in squalor and starve – Sipho uses verses from Jeremiah to explain why he makes and wears coarse sack- cloth clothes.
Although he makes all his clothes from sisal that he harvests in the wild, Sipho says he would never dream of selling the outfits to make money.
"I don’t need money,” he said.
Calling himself a messenger of the Jehovah and accurately quoting verses of scripture from memory, the articulate mystic says he gave away his own Bible years ago to someone who needed it more than he did.
After almost a decade on the road alone, in recent years he finally agreed to allow two Mthatha residents – 28 year-old Mzukisi and Nokubonga, 27 – to join him.
The trio – who only use their first names, eat fresh fruit and raw vegetables and only drink water – say sleeping under bridges or in the bush as they crisscross the country helps them better appreciate the wonders of creation.