Latest News Editor's Choice

Opinion / Columnist

We are fine with our culture and traditions!

18 Mar 2020 at 16:26hrs | Views
Miriam Majome: Barely 36 hours of writing about medieval traditions and cultural "beliefs" in our communities, we read today once more in Bulawayo24 about a classic case of the power of Sangomas and cultural beliefs. It is reported in Murewa, two days ago, a Sangoma woman drowned while on a ritual that was supposed to take place in a mountain called Domborembudzi. Having been declined this ritual in this hill by the local chief because they did not follow correct procedures to gain access to the hill, the group rolled down the hill to perform their rituals by the River Nyaguwe.

It is said the entire village Murewa is in shock about the drowning of the female villager, on the other hand,  the 16-member group are jovial, convivial, blissfully waiting for her resurrection that is supposed to take place in 3 days: 3 DAYS!!! Dear Miriam Majome, what does this number "3 DAYS" remind you of in Christian religion? Do Sangomas and the death & resurrection of Jesus Christ in 3 DAYS have something in common nowadays? Have these African beliefs turned Christian anyhow to even pick a Christian time event of the resurrection of Jesus with their rituals otherwise known as heathen and backward by all Christians in the Christian fraternity?

This river is known to be crocodiles infested. How does the 16-member group still hope that their own will come back in three days and alive: they believe, this to be exact to the point, the miracle is to come, is to happen: When she threw herself into the river, it is said she waved goodbye: what Njuzus are always believed to do in river-waters and underground wells like Chinhoyi caves. This is a narrative we have been told ever since we were children that Mermaids perform by waving at their audiences either Hallo or Goodbye.

This is what this lady Sangoma was choreographing, emulating Njuzu: According to her mindset, I think, she had to do this live performance to be like a Njuzu in this crocodile-infested River: it is hoped by all in the group of 16 Sangomas that she will come back presumably with higher spiritual powers: having lived under the water for three days, the crocodiles will not dare touch her because she is special, she is spiritual, crocodiles will not see her at all and the swollen river will not bundle her body upside down with water currents running at a very high speed.
Now that she will not come back alive as they had hoped, this case has been reported to the police for searching the remains; reasons for her failure to come back alive will be hatched, they will be many of them. Sangomas as the group already are, will cast their "bones" and determine what will have happened that she "died". Culprits will be found. But because there was an evil spell that devoured their own on her way to get more wisdom and spiritual powers, she did not come. It is good for their wellbeing by maintaining a false narrative that "it was not alone" "hazvisi zvega izvi, kune huroyi mukati" In our African societies there is no natural death. Any death means or is defined as; somebody cast an evil spell on the victim and that lead to death: It can be illness, accident, suicide or any simple death, always a culprit is found and is identified.

Not long ago, a woman in Dete was told by Sangoma who lived near Victoria Falls to go to the Zambezi River to cleanse herself of bad-luck and other illnesses. The woman obediently went to cleanse herself in the Zambezi River. We should all know what happened to her because we are literate but gullible to trust a mere Sangoma with our lives.  She was swept by the Zambezi River high currents; parts of her body were recovered days later. These Sangomas that give ill-advice to our citizens appear to get away with murder and homicide in most cases.
Such high-powered ignorance takes rounds in Zimbabwe and people do not learn from most recent incidences that inform us to think rationally and learn to think outside the box. No spirit-medium or powerful herbs will save this woman from crocodile River-infested and high current Nyaguwe. If at all our societies should have learnt from is the incident that took place in 2009,  a woman called Rotina Mavinga told the Zanu PF cabinet that she can perform miracles or cast a spell that will produce diesel fuel from the rock. Did we not see Mugabe's half cabinet: Didymus Mutasa, Kembo Mohadi including a learned Defence Minister, Sekeramayi: a medical doctor by profession, taking their shoes off because they had entered a sacred place. In private, this woman was ushered with a lot of money, a car, and a piece of land.

Instead of invoking the spirits to produce diesel fuel from the rocks, the woman clandestinely went to Zambia to buy clean and refined diesel fuel that she piped it into the rocks. The Ministers and the most educated were mesmerised by the spiritual powers of this woman. Are we still to believe that Zimbabwe is the highest literacy rate in the entire African continent with this kind of medieval thinking that runs deep into all aspects of our class societies, from the less educated right up to the distinguished academics from decent global universities.

It was 2018 just before the harmonized elections in July that year. Advocate Chamisa was ordained pastor. He travelled to Israel to see the path Jesus took from Jerusalem until he was to be crucified in the city of Golgotha. According to Chamisa, this pilgrimage to Israel was an empowerment journey to 2018 election victory and his subsequent rise to power as President.  Did we see the pics he took in the holy land with awe and wonder and we sang it loud: Chamisa chete chete? Did we gullible believe that when he comes, he will just sweep the elections and elegantly, defeat Mnangagwa and will be the Third President of Zimbabwe. Chamisa was wearing "white garments" not black; magemenzi machena: a "sign of purity" black is not a sign of purity but curse!!! Chamisa together with Advocate Biti with his red headdress thrown to the ground in reverence of the sort-out holy place in Zimbabwe wilderness. They were choreographed or photographed in absolute deep prayer and that was shot before the elections took place. That had to be done, to be photographed to show us that our leader is indeed God-fearing one.

When MDC-Alliance lost the elections, Advocate Chamisa still believed in the power of the prayer: The case of rigged elections had gone to the high court, was going to be elegantly won by MDC-Alliance without much preparations for the court case on the part of the Lawyer Thabane Mpofu. But the V-11 forms were missing and there was insufficient evidence to make a case for rigged elections. How much amount of prayer was going to assist legal evidence that was poorly prepared by MDC-Alliance lawyers? Ten lawyers in the echelons of MDC-Alliance power failed to sit down and bring forward a case of evident rigged elections. But Advocate Chamisa strongly believed in the power of the prayer and not the power of arithmetic as scientific evidence that would have turned around the elections as rigged. Zimbabwe is still having the highest literacy rate the whole of Africa.  

Zimbabwe today has men who think that if they are HIV/AIDS positive, they need to sleep with a virgin to heal from the disease: This information or advice or treatment suggestions come from Sangomas. Sangomas are revered, believed to the letter in our societies, hence even their cruel and excruciating advice is taken on board. These sick with HIV/AIDS men will target young women and girls, rape them in the hope of getting the incurable disease cured. When they go for a test to establish if the disease is healed having bedded virgins, surely bedding a girl, girl-children and even babies because they are still the ones who are virgins, does not cure HIV/IADS: they are told by the testing clinics that they are HIV-AIDS positive. So, they will go for many other girl-children, rape them, de-vaginate whoever is thought to be virgin in their eyes or on their way; to get the cure of the incurable disease. This is how the spread of HIV/AIDS has spread in Zimbabwe. Which country with high literacy rate will believe that a rape with a virgin can cure HIV/AIDS? In Zimbabwe they do believe this, and they do this to this day in year 2020 dear Miriam Majome.
Marriage in Zimbabwe is still an institution that is revered by all societies rightly so. But the cases of infidelity are still intact. What does infidelity in Zimbabwe mean in the first place? Our societies are patriarchal and this marriage of one woman is not Zimbabwean or African to this day. Days of yester year, men could have as many women as they can afford to get. Because of Christianity, men marry only one woman:  It is for this reason we find men with one wife at home and several "small houses" scattered around the country. The power of the man is confirmed by having many women as small houses who are set to compete with the married wife in the reproduction process. In the process of competition between the wife and the small houses, Sangomas are consulted to give the wives and small houses those love-potions to treat the husband infidelity and womanising.

We have lost men because of these "Mupfuwhira" in Shona or Isawudho in Ndebele. We have lost brothers, sons, uncles because of these medications that can be very lethal and unhygienic practices, and to this day women do consult Sangomas to get that "stay soft" to pacify the man's sex drive so that the man just thinks and trust her and her alone. But other women of the same man, even the wife of the man: its competition like no other to win the love of this man. According to me, this is pure madness on the part of women.

One would think that if the economy of our country was healthy, women would learn to stand on their own and learn to give value to themselves and not to think that to be valued is when you are married only. It is this dependence on men economically that make women cope with madness in the marriages. Women put up with unimaginable to maintain marriages that are not supposed to be nurtured. A marriage that could be stressful and dangerous should never be nurtured by smart thinking women out there. We have lost thousands of smart women in these dysfunctional marriages some of which is due to undesclosed illness.

The sexually transmitted diseases are sometimes not taken into consideration by competing parties. How many of our women are suffering from HIV/AIDS transmitted to them by their husbands? How many women have succumbed to sexually transmitted diseases infected by their spouses? A good woman is a woman who will stand by the man, the husband and father who will have infected her with such a deadly disease for life. What precedence are we teaching our growing up girl-children? Girl-child empowerment has not reached the shores of Zimbabwe yet, but the rate of literacy remains Zimbabwe has 90% of the people educated than any other country in Africa.

We have, not so long ago, seen and witnessed the death of Robert Mugabe whose body was supposed to be on guard 24/7 by his wife Grace until he is buried. What does that inform us about the beliefs and the power of Juju and witchcraft in our societies? For Mugabe to give such orders before he died, what does he know or privy of the rituals that could take place from his dead body. Has he been part of rituals that used body parts of deceased people prior to burial, and he was scared post humus that it could happen to him too? We know all these answers because the societies are ours and we have grown up in them to know the length and breadth of our deep-seated fears about death and the subsequent rituals that can be used for other purposes after the late has been buried.

The worst insult one can inflict in a Zimbabwean to tell her/him that he/she is a witch: uyaloya/unoroya. This insult is very effective because we believe in evil practices very deeply in our psyche to this day. It could be for this reason that witchcraft is enshrined in our constitution to this day because in the event of a citizen calling another as a witch or wizard, the state must be seen to be punishing such cases at magistrate levels and not only at headman's courts.

Globally every society has at a time in their development, believed in witches and wizards and that they believed existed. The industrial revolution must have been a wake-up call whereby they began to develop investigative minds and questioned beliefs that had no proof scientifically. Hardly anyone in the western world, even in countries like eastern bloc still believe in the power of witchcraft mostly elaborated in Shakespeare literature books and several books in other disciplines that inform us how other cultures think about witchcraft and it has faded away as unfounded fears used to psychologically control their societies back then.

With all the global enlightenment we have around us, it will not be easy for African nations to move away from these medieval thinking of witchcraft and unscientific rituals that retards any meaningful social and economic development in our societies. We must realize that we are a global village immersed with competition of various kinds, whether we want it or not we are automatically forced to be part of this competitiveness. President Nyerere once said: while an African is learning how to cross the road, other nations are heading for mars in as far as development is concerned.

Dear Miriam Majome, I am deeply concerned about the unfettered culture and traditions we shall leave behind us when we depart from this earth. We have done very little or nothing to impart our growing children with "search for the scientifically proven and reliable truth minds" those minds that should be investigative so that they move beyond these medieval practices that have retarded progress in most African communities continentally. We seem to have conditioned our children to just believe blindly without giving them the space to say "WHY, HOW WHEN, WHICH, WHO". We know from our own growing up time that such questions were not tolerated by any adult. We listened to what they said, it did not matter how stupid the statements were.

If our duties as Tete/babakazi, mothers and gogos/ambuya is to groom our girl-children to use mupfuwhira (love potions) in hard times in their marriages or to "tighten" their private body parts, then we have failed our societies. We shall have failed the most important niche in the societies: the girl-child. We did not rise to the global challenges and developments so that our girl-children can take the fight for self-love, self-appreciation, self-empowerment at a much higher level than ourselves.

The reason why Africans still believe in these medieval stories of witches going by the night with spiritual powers to destroy lives, it is the same deep sense of believing in Christianity. To believe in witchcraft and believing in Christianity is a coin with two sides. The strength of belief is the same no less. Who today can tell her African society that Christianity is the flip side of colonialism and no less? Who is going to tell an African that Christianity was meant to colonize our minds and our lands without much fight because an African was told, they do not have souls and they believed? The kingdom is in heaven and not here on earth, an African believed this to this day.

The African was told your Gods are satanic and evil, Christianity is civilization; the African believed this without question to this day. (Africans were told to close their eyes and pray and when they opened their eyes the land Africa and its resources were gone) Have you ever seen Africans going to churches of all kinds like Zombies? Everything has been taken away even the dignity of the African is gone and let go for the sake for the Kingdom of God and not of this Earth. This robed and robs an African of his/her continent and the continental heritage and resources. We see and watch helplessly how our continents wealth is plundered and the African is told to pray harder.

To have a soul is to Christianise fully without questioning the Christian roots and how as an African you can be part of a foreign Christian doctrine. Do I know one European who took African religion as the religion that determines their lives after death? But how many millions of Africans are Christians to the point of becoming mad? They speak in tongues in as much as the Sangomas do. It is the same set of stuff and nonsense without intellectual backup. I rest my case.  
Miriam Majome: It so happens that I am not yet over with your articles that took and shook me to write once more about these issues so extensively. I confess your articles fired something in me. Glad am not critiquing but complimenting what you have already provoked in your previous articles. Please keep up the good work. You may be Christian, I do not know but these are my own scatter shots, we can agree to disagree.

Source - Nomazulu Thata
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.