Zimbabwe: 'Mbuya Nehanda's Statue a Symbol of the War We Conquered'

6 AUGUST 2021

The Herald (Harare)

Fungai Lupande — The statue of Mbuya Nehanda (Charwe Nyakasikana), one of Zimbabwe's most revered occults, is a symbol of protracted anti-colonial struggle and the subsequent victory.

Mbuya Nehanda's spirit inspired Zimbabwe's protracted liberation struggle and the fact that the war was agog with songs that testified to her influence, cannot be doubted.

The song "Mbuya Nehanda Kufa Vachitaura Shuwa... ," oiled the struggle.

Her name was part of the lyrical content of many war songs.

In an interview with spirit medium Sekuru Katombo Kanyai, the main officiant of Mbuya Nehanda spiritual realm and guardian of Shavaurunzi Shrine in Mazowe, said the phenomenon of celebrating ancestral heroes and heroines was not limited to Zimbabwe, but was common the world over.

He said the Cecil Rhodes statue and grave at Matopos National Park was a symbol of European conquest, while David Livingstone's statue overlooking the Victoria Falls is a symbol of British conquest in the 19th Century.

Mbuya Nehanda, together with spirit mediums Sekuru Kaguvi (Gumboreshumba) Chaminuka, Mukwati and many others led the rebellion against British colonial settlers.

Nehanda was captured, tried, convicted and hanged in 1898.

As they dragged her to the gallows, she shoved, kicked and denounced them in utter defiance, announcing in the process, "My bones shall rise and fight."

Speaking from his homestead at Ramahori Farm in Mazowe where he is looking after the scared shrine, Sekuru Katombo Kanyai said the spirit of Mbuya Nehanda stayed true to her words and Zimbabwe became independent.

It is time to celebrate our heroes, he said.

"The statue is a symbol of the war we conquered," said Sekuru Katombo Kanyai. "Everyone who comes into the country knows that this is the history of this country. To those who are saying negative things, were we supposed to erect a statue of a white person?

"Let's thank the President for the development. As a way to assist and support the President's efforts, there is need for traditional processes to be followed so that the statue and money gets the respect it deserves even among Christians, foreigners and non-believers of the African traditional.

"Disrespect of the money is disrespect to Mbuya Nehanda spirit. The process involves the coming together of all chiefs and spirit mediums for a national omen ceremony.

"The initial respect starts at the vaHera dynasty to let them know of the developments and allow them to do their traditional ways. In the 1990s, the spirit mediums advised and spoke about the use of locally celebrated ancestral heroes on local currency. Now that it has happened, traditional processes have to be followed."

Sekuru Katombo Kanyai said 41 years after independence, some war heroes and heroines still lie in unmarked graves in foreign lands and it was time "their spirits are laid to rest".

He said the process did not involve repatriation of their remains, but it was a traditional process of bringing sand scoops from these countries as a symbol of their spirit.

"Spirit mediums of this country go to Zambia and Mozambique and meet spirit mediums of those countries," said Sekuru Katombo Kanyai. "We don't bring back the remains, but we are given sand as a symbol of their spirits. We don't take sand on graves least we bring home foreign spirits.

"We will bring together chiefs and the sand scoops are given to families of children who did not come back from the war. Through this process, we can bury all freedom fighters."

Mr Kevas Kanyandura of the Seke dynasty said long ago, Mbuya Nehanda's spirit first used a female medium in the Seke chiefdom before being passed on to the Chiweshe and Hwata chieftainships.

"After the death of the medium of Mbuya Nehanda of Chiweshe, another medium manifested and relocated to what is today Christon Bank area known as Kugomba (Manzou Valley, what is today known as Mazowe Valley) in 1999," he said.

"I decided to relocate to this area to stay close to the spirit medium to learn more about Mbuya Nehanda and our African tradition. Mbuya Nehanda spirit is not tied to a specific person, it is the spirit for the whole country. It is a national spirit.

"Shavaurunzi shrine is an important place, but it is now being destroyed by gold panners, while members of the apostolic sect desecrate the mountain. When white people occupied this area, they ensured that sacred places were protected.

"Shavaurunzi is where spirit mediums would gather for rain making rituals and appease ancestors. Mbuya Nehanda is a spirit medium of rain. They came here to seek Mbuya Nehanda."

Village elder Mr Fanuel Gondokondo Chikuvanyanga, an aid to Mbuya Nehanda spirit medium, said the shrine was destroyed and at one-time gold panners dug out human remains from the mountain.

"The situation is so pathetic and at one point the miners dug out human remains," he said. "Security forces were deployed to safeguard the area, but they ended up defying their duties.

"Mbuya Nehanda is the spirit of rain and this year we marvel at good rains, but Mazowe Dam was not filled. This is an indication that a lot of things were desecrated.

"Chief Hwata needs to come back to this area so that most of these things fall into place. He knows how to protect this area. We created a Hwata Trust, but things are not going well because this area has no chief."

Mr Chikuvanyanga said he was aid to two Mbuya Nehanda spirit mediums, one in Chiweshe and the second who relocated to Christon Bank in 1999.

Speaking about the statue of Mbuya Nehanda erected in Harare, Mr Chukuvanyanga said the initial process was to approach Chief Chiweshe and Chief Hwata for guidelines according to traditional processes.

Read the original article on The Herald.

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