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Felling of 'Nehanda tree' a good omen for change in Zim politics

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09 Dec 2011 at 10:20hrs | Views
A city of Harare council truck carrying out repair work knocked down the tree, an Harare landmark considered by some to have magical powers. Some Zimbabweans think the death of the "Nehanda tree" is a harbinger of political change in the country ruled and riven by president Robert Mugabe since 1980.

The msasa tree is believed to have been used by British settlers to hang Mbuya Nehanda, a Shona spirit medium who was also a hero of the struggle against colonial forces. Local lore has it that she could bring rain in times of drought and that she said before dying: "My bones will rise again."

Other sources, however, say the "magic tree" story is an urban myth and that the woman was hanged on a normal gallows at the then Salisbury, Rhodesia, central police station.

Zimbabweans saw the death of "Nehanda's tree" as a bad omen and others as a harbinger of political change in a country ruled and riven by Robert Mugabe since independence in 1980. He was prime minister from 1980-87 but became the first executive head of state in 1987. Since then the country has been run into the ground with graft, political favours and corruption.

Perhaps Mbuya Nehanda should rise again then the truck driver will have done the country a favour...

President of the Chief's Council Fortune Charumbira said he was not aware the tree had fallen. He said if that had happened, it meant there were issues that needed to be addressed in the country.

"It has to do either with the one who hit the tree. He might have something around him. It may also mean bad things are happening or will happen in the country and that it may be an expression that one or two things have to be corrected," he said.

University of Zimbabwe lecturer John Makumbe said: "It is the fall of a great person.

"The fact that it's happening when Zanu PF is holding its Bulawayo meeting may actually signify the political change that is coming into the nation. We are going to have major changes in 2012 and they will be positive for the country although that will start with the negative," said Makumbe.

Professor Gordon Chavunduka said : "The implication of this is that we are likely to get the truth around the way she died. It has a link with the current political set-up and from this, the truth is now going to come out."

Harare Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda said: "As you are probably aware, that is where Mbuya Nehanda was hanged by the colonial administration. It could be a prophetic event signifying the dawn of a new era."

Other reports said the tree was used to hang leaders of the first uprising against European settlers, including the ancestral grandmother of the nation Mbuya Nehanda, in 1898 after she was found guilty of ordering the beheading of native commissioner Henry Pollard.

A n'anga (witchdoctor) performed rites over the split trunk and gnarled branches on Thursday demanding homage be paid and forgiveness sought at Nehanda's grave site north of Harare for the destruction of the tree. Crowds gathered at the felled tree to take pieces of its billowing green leaves, splinters and bark.

The tree fell on the same day as Mugabe marked the country's national tree planting and re-forestation campaign by planting a tree in the Bulawayo.

Source - AFP
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