Dotito’s bitter honey harvest

0307-1-1-DSC_0375Sydney Kawadza Senior Features Writer
Nobody knows for certain who was behind the daring act and accusations and counter-accusations are flying in the community with the fear of the unknown being palpable.

In most rural communities of Zimbabwe, harvesting wild honey is considered an art which is fraught with dangers, but one that often has sweet endings, literally.

In Munyeperi Village of Dotito in Mt Darwin, though, some daring hunters who harvested honey from the grave of a spirit medium — which is macabre enough — have reaped bitterness, sorrow, confusion, division and anger from the community.

Spirit medium Chikapinda died and was buried in a cave 33 years ago and his grave lay undisturbed, despite wild bees nesting in it, until last November when the community discovered that it had been tampered with.

Horribly, the skull of what remained of the spirit medium was found to be missing!

Nobody knows for certain who was behind the daring act and accusations and counter-accusations are flying in the community with the fear of the unknown being palpable.

The Herald recently visited Munyeperi Village and witnessed the confusion, fear and rancour among the villagers.

Relatives of the late spirit medium are angry with the traditional leaders, accusing them of dragging their feet and protecting people accused of tampering with the grave.

The late spirit medium’s son Marvelous Chikapinda is an unhappy man.

Speaking at his father’s tampered grave, Marvelous accused Headman Gondo and his relatives of undermining efforts to search for the head.

“It is now eight months since they tampered with the grave and no-one knows what happened to my late father’s head.

“The elders should have found ways of protecting the head. I have a feeling that they are protecting some of their relatives implicated in the scam. They should have done something before the head disappeared,” he said.

Marvelous believes there is no solution to the problem.

“We do not believe, as a family, that the mystery will be solved. I do not even believe anything will happen even if you write the story. We have lost any respect even for the traditional leaders here.”

He openly challenged Headman Gondo and his village heads to explain why they are not seriously pursuing the issue.

“I have been ordered to keep quiet and stop asking questions.”

Headman Gondo, Mr Mugomani Mutererende, was visibly shocked by Chikapinda’s diatribe.

He however, expressed shock at the incident.

“I knew Chikapinda as the spirit medium of this area and I was surprised when villagers reported that someone had tampered with his grave.

“We also heard stories that a head had been discovered around the area and I advised their family friend to secure the head before we could rebury it. I had to seek guidance from Chief Dotito.”

Headman Gondo confirmed the head’s disappearance.

“We opened the grave twice in the belief that whoever tampered with the grave had replaced the head but we found nothing.

“This has never happened in my life, not only to the grave and head of a spirit medium, but any other person for that matter.”

Headman Gondo confirmed that people had bought honey during that period.

“We heard people selling honey but it will be difficult to say it was from the grave because they are known for harvesting and selling to the community,” the 89-year-old headman said.

The spirit medium, that is Chikapinda, died in 1982.

According to his close friend, Mr Monday Karuru, the bees inhabited the grave soon after Chikapinda’s burial.

Mr Karuru was responsible for burying his friend’s body.

“These bees were quite vicious and people who went near the grave would testify that it was a no-go area. We were surprised to hear that the grave had been tampered with,” he said.

Mr Karuru said when a skull was discovered many dismissed it as belonging to a dog or other wild animal.

“We searched and discovered that the grave had been tampered with. We advised the chief and we bought the necessary paraphernalia required including a white cloth, snuff, among others.

“We still have those things in the hope that one day we will find the head for reburial.”

The villagers are still trying to find the people responsible for tampering with the grave.

Three names are associated with the incident.

Tarbab Chitsike, who discovered the head, has since moved to Dotito Business Centre.

His parents, while claiming that they could not speak on his behalf, exonerated him.

“He grows his crops in the field near that area and he discovered the head while looking for firewood and rushed to inform us.

“We informed the elders but we were surprised to hear that the grave had been tampered with while the spirit medium’s head later disappeared.”

Chitsike’s parents believe that those who were selling honey should be answerable.

“It is quite surprising that people could have the guts to open a grave for honey. They even killed the bees using fertiliser.”

Efforts to locate two men, Tafadzwa and Tichaona, who are believed to have been selling the honey, were fruitless as they were nowhere to be found.

Another traditional leader, Mr Joel Nhute, said tampering with a grave spells doom for the community.

“We live in a generally dry area with scarce food and whoever did this owes an explanation to the villagers.

“There is also belief among traditionalists that the spirit medium was not happy with this incident and has hidden its head for the community to suffer,” he said.

Mr Nhute added that the spirit medium Chikapinda was not originally from the area.

“He moved into our area a long time ago and it is very difficult to trace his origins and that could also affect efforts to locate the head.”

Villagers also noted that the spirit mediums, Nyabapa and Chirongamabwe, had warned of such an occurrence in the area.

“Our folklore has it that such an incident would happen and the people would suffer and this is going to destroy the people in this area.”

Plans are also afoot to host a cleansing ceremony to appease Chikapinda’s spirit so that it rests in peace.

As it stands, disaster looms for the people from kunaDate until the head is returned and properly reburied, while the spirits are appeased.

According to traditional African religion, in the Shona and Ndebele religion, God, or the Supreme Being, is seen as the creator and sustainer of the universe in much the same manner as within Christianity.

Shona Mwari (literally “He who is”), or Ndebele uMlimu, is believed to be active in the everyday lives of people.

In general, people communicate with Mwari through the vadzimu (Shona), or amadlozi (Ndebele). These are the deceased ancestors.

The vadzimu are believed to constitute an invisible community within the community of the living, always around their descendants, caring for them and participating in their joys and sorrows.

Spirit mediums communicate with the vadzimu on behalf of the people.

In Shona religion, in addition to the guarding characteristics of the vadzimu, there are also avenging or evil spirits, ngozi, and witches who communicate with them.

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