Matabeleland traditional leaders close down Njelele shrine
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TRADITIONAL leaders in Matabeleland have resolved to close the Njelele shrine, amid revelations that they will remove and destroy the bones and stones left by the illegal visitors as part of moves to cleanse the shrine.
A group of over 560 people, some of them war veterans, last week visited the Matopos National Park and performed rituals at the shrine where they reportedly left stones and bones they collected from Zipra camps in Zambia.
The group, which was made up of former freedom fighters, 25 chiefs and five spirit mediums, arrived in Bulawayo from Zambia and proceeded to the Matopos National Park where they conducted their cleansing ceremony.
They have attracted wide condemnation from chiefs in the region who said the visit was illegal and had not been sanctioned by anyone.
When a Sunday News crew visited the shrine yesterday there was still tension among the villagers with some almost manhandling the news crew accusing it of being part of those that did not respect their rites.
Chief of the area, Mr Malachi Masuku, said they were tired of people who came to the shrine and do whatever they wanted, not respecting their traditional rites.
â€œWe really don't want to speak badly but our patience is fast running out. These people are clearly disrespecting us, they donâ€™t even care about our beliefs.
â€œRight now we have been forced to postpone the reopening of that shrine and I donâ€™t see us reopening it anytime soon because first we have to go and look for those stones and bones, so we can get rid of them as part of moves to cleanse the shrine because right now it is dirty with what these people have been doing," said Chief Masuku.
He said they were clear with the visitors that the shrine was closed and it was not even the correct shrine to hold cleansing ceremonies but they (visitors) ignored them and went ahead with their activities.
â€œWe all know that Dula in Maswabi area is the correct shrine to hold these cleansing ceremonies. Njelele is a rain- making place and only rainmakers (Hosana) are allowed there. besides there are a lot of shrines in the country, why do they choose to come to Njelele and leave us with their bad luck? It is no wonder we no longer have any rain in this region.
â€œBesides, if these people are saying they are still being affected by the war why donâ€™t they simply go to the Heroes Acre where their commanders were buried? we donâ€™t have any heroes acre in Matopo, honestly if us as chiefs in Matabeleland South go and hold a traditional ceremony in Mutare or Masvingo will they allow it, this is a clear sign of being disrespectful and arrogant,â€ said the chief.
He said what had to be considered was that there were procedures that needed to be followed when anyone wanted to visit the shrine not just to bulldose and do as you wish without approval from the chief or the keeper of the shrine.
"First, you have to inform the village heads who then relay the message to the chief after that we go on to consult the keeper before the visit is even sanctioned, no one cannot just decide they want to go and do as they will at the shrine, that is a very respectable site and even me as chief I canâ€™t just go and do anything I want there, it is more than taboo," said Chief Masuku.
A village head in the area, Mr Christopher Tshuma, said they were now suspicious of every visitor as it was clear that there was someone who was out to defile the shrine and further cause the suffering of people from Matabeleland.
â€œWhat will happen tomorrow if we allow this to happen, a lot of things have been happening at that shrine and I tell you the future looks very bleak, first they took pots, then the shrine was petrol bombed, then they stole cloths, and other traditional artifacts, then they held an illegal cleansing ceremony now they go on to bury these stones and soil," said Mr Tshuma.
Mrs Ntombizodwa Dube, a rainmaker (hosana) said it was now difficult for them to carry out their duties as rainmakers as the shrine was clearly defiled and there was now a need to hold several traditional rites to cleanse it.
"That shrine is a very sacred place and must be afforded that respect, right now this group went against all the required customs and I can tell you that is one of the main reasons we no longer have reliable rain in the region, it is because of such arrogant groups.
"If those people had asked us we would have advised them correctly because besides the fact that the shrine was closed it is also not a cleansing shrine and will never be a cleansing shrine, we have to respect it, even us the owners we respect it because we know its importance," said Mrs Dube.
War veterans and the political leadership from Matabeleland that include Co-Minister of Home Affairs, Cde Kembo Mohadi and Zanu-PF national chairman, Cde Simon Khaya Moyo, have also condemned the activities of the group.
The group made headlines early this year when it visited Njelele Shrine and reportedly conducted unsanctioned rituals.
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