By Morrisen Mamutse.
The Saturday of 30 June 2018 came as a blessing I never would have expected. Not only was it the day to attend a high-profile Guest Speaker series on repatriation of Zimbabwe war heroes and heroines remains for cultural burials in their motherland, but it also became a day my knowledge base on culture, tradition and religion was broadened.
The event titled “Return The Skulls Of Zimbabwe’s war Heroes Mbuya Nehanda et al was organised by the Great Zimbabwe International Festival team and was the first of a series of events leading to the first Great Zimbabwe International Festival to be held in september.
Aims of the festival are to promote domestic and international tourism, catch the eyes and ears of the whole world in showcasing the importance of Great Zimbabwe monuments to Zimba weans and the World, promote unity and business development, appreciating Zimbabwean history and the role played by heroes of the First Chimurenga war, community development and job creation.
To add goodness to the day, I met an uncle I had seen maybe three years back, yet we live less than 100 kilometres away from each other. That’s the UK for you, it makes us strangers to each other as each tries to earn a decent living. Anyway, the day is unforgettable to me because the speakers of the day and all the activities confirmed my original thought that there should not be any antagonism, name calling and labelling between traditional rituals and “modern” worship in Zimbabwe, for Zimbabweans and by Zimbabweans.
The event was graced by Zimbabwe Minister of Tourism Honourable Priscah Mupfumira as Guest of Honour. I admit the honourable minister deserves the title honourable. She spoke with confidence, boldness, eloquence and knowledge of where she is guiding the ministry towards in such a way I just said to myself; I am in! Period! The point that grabbed my attention was: Domestic Tourism centred around building themed centres in every province/district to tell in full, the journey its people have travelled since records became available. This theme smoothly flowed with the repatriation of the remains of Mbuya Nehanda etc. from the UK and other countries as the centres of domestic tourism require such treasures of their gallant sons and daughters to be enshrined in their rightful places. I was impressed by Minister’s vision, and that the work was already started to restore identity, pride, legacy and rest for the fighters of the different struggles that make Zimbabwe who she is today. This narrative is not the purpose of my writing here, but I felt I wouldn’t start on my piece without acknowledging the vital learning I got by just attending this free event. Had I snubbed the function for whatever reasons, I wouldn’t have had a chance to speak to honourable minister face to face and offer her my autographed book!
Anyway, by public demand from those that listened to my video presentation on the day and requested that I publish the full speech I had prepared for the day, here it is! I know it will unsettle some, make others think, please others and annoy some. That’s the nature of life; we live it to face all four quarters of humanity that we come across physically, virtually and digitally! So, here we go:
Leicester Event written speech
Manheru akanaka, Salibonani, Abusheni, Greetings to you all and thank you for coming to this event. My name is Morrisen Mamutse. I am a trained and experienced development practitioner who has planned, organised, implemented and evaluated award winning development projects in Zimbabwe (Marondera prison Vocational Skills project-2006), Hearing Aids project (Soroti, Uganda 2015), Walking sticks for the visually impaired (Soroti Uganda, 2015), Deworming and malnutrition project (Soroti, Uganda 2015), Hepatitis vaccination for the un affording (Soroti, Uganda 2015), Cultural integration through music performances at Summer Carnivals (more than 10 venues in the UK) as well as University Guest Lecturer (University of Wolverhampton, 2016).
In all this development work that I so much enjoy doing, I have found one common thread running through all projects. They are all interventionist. They are triggered after a disaster has already struck and left scars. So all there is to do is build resilience in case the disaster strikes again. So I thought to myself; there should be another way. That’s how I came up with a preventative approach that I call “development of the mindset” for young people before they hit brick walls or make wrong decisions due to lack of authentic information in this fake news era. I have recently published this book here called SORTED; A young people’s guide to successful careers and happy relationships. In here, I explore a lot of barriers young people face due to unfounded myths in our communities, then come up with solutions that have worked for the past decade for those that want to unlearn stupid stereotypes and face their fate head-on, positively. The book is available on Amazon and as hard copies from me for those in the Western countries. Of course, postage is cheap here than posting to Africa!
Anyway, I hope that my contributions to the issue under discussion today will inform the young people to have the curiosity to learn more about tradition, culture and religion then make conscious choices on which way to go based on their evaluations. My presentation today is to break down the discord that occurs whenever traditionalism is mentioned, mainly to us the Church going brothers and sisters. I go to Church myself, so I am speaking from lived experiences! I firmly believe there should not be any discord at all about traditionalism and other forms of worship, which usually leads to demonising one side and purifying the other. I want my children to be able to understand that both sides of “worship” deserve respect without calling the other names. If one makes a choice of which way to worship, it should not automatically mean the other they left out is the enemy, the devil, is evil and satanic. Here is why I say so…,
Let’s start with the antagonism that I hear whenever issues of ancestry are mentioned within the Zimbabwean communities, especially certain names like Mbuya Nehanda etc. A common response from “modern” worshippers is one of labelling and calling the practice associated with such rituals all sorts of bad names. The word “modern” in this piece is in quotes deliberately because before missionary religion in Dzimbadzamabwe; there was worship like Sekuru Magaya mentioned here. “Pre-colonialism Zimbabweans prayed to Mwari, Musikavanhu, munayisi wemvura (God Almighty, the rain giver) and their prayers went through ancestry channels” sekuru Magaya just explained here.
The fact that worship traced back through ancestry takes me to the book of Matthew 1.
Matthew writes about the genealogy of Jesus Christ. Genealogy translated to ChiShona would be Madzinza. Christ’s genealogy traces through the not so glamorous and pure names, but no one says anything. Some quarters say that is why the Pharisees and Sadducees struggled to embrace Christ because his genealogy was not as clean as they expected the family tree of The Redeemer to be. In the ancestry line of Christ are names like Rahab the harlot (Matthew 1 vs 5; Joshua 2 vs 1), Judah who fathered a generation through sleeping with his disguised daughter in law (Matthew 1 vs 3; Genesis 38 vs 16), King David whose son Solomon is from the wife of Uriah that he took in after ordering Uriah to be killed on the battlefront (Matthew 1 vs 6; 2 Samuel 11 vs 14-17)! These are facts from the Holy Bible that the Guinness Book of Records recognises as THE MOST READ BOOK IN THE WORLD! My point here is, the idea that some of us frowning and turning away from anything that mentions of names like Mbuya Nehanda, Kaguvi, Chaminuka because “they are of the evil spirit” is wrong. They might not have been perfect in their lives, just like my examples from the Bible illustrate above, but an undisputed fact is that they were God’s mediums with the people. Unless if someone has proof that the Zimbabwean spirit mediums mentioned above-performed evil thus, they aren’t worth a mention, then I might listen, but with one ear; because as illustrated above from the Bible, none of the critical pillars of Christ’s generation was pure! When Almighty God chooses a messenger of His word, He seeks not of purity, but of the pleasure of His Heart (Jeremiah 3:15) I know this analysis will make some readers call me names, I get it. That’s how religion polarises people, same as politics! As a development practitioner who works with all humanity irrespective of their diverse allegiances, beliefs, cultures and norms, I learn a lot from listening to different people’s views. To learn from everyone I encounter, I do not allow myself to be colonised by my personal beliefs. I let them keep me in shape while finding common ground with other people’s opinions; especially if we all belong to one Creator but worship him differently! The conclusion I make about different forms of worship is that Him, the Creator likes so and so to worship Him from their angle, while I worship him from my perspective. Who am I to judge and make my form of worship superior? Speaking of mediums and ancestors, let me touch on Mbuya Nehanda as a spirit medium.
I stand to be corrected, but to my understanding, the word “muporofita” does not have roots in the ChiShona language. It is a direct translation from the English word “prophet” and thus cannot be expanded or broken down in Shona complex nominal constructions and mean anything. For those that studied Shona at Advanced level and above (like me) know what I am talking about! It does not mean there is no Shona equivalent of the word. It is there, yet my best guess is it was avoided during Bible translations because it would add credibility to the word that described “the prophecy process” in pre-missionary worship- Svikiro. Svikiro is a Shona word that means the message receiver and medium /conduit between the divine realms and the people! Svikiro thus becomes a message conveyor between the Creator and His people. Reminds anyone of prophecy!! Exactly the same! The Bible describes prophets as a people that speak not of their own but what they have been sent by the Lord to say (Deuteronomy 18 vs 18-22). Under such guidance, it speaks to me that all modern prophets are “masvikiro eshoko raMwari”. So, before we dismiss culturalism and all the names that are associated with traditional worship, let’s check what matters other than names; which are the messages each received and spread, up to modern day prophets…,
Missionaries to Zimbabwe campaigned against all forms of traditional worship from the time they set foot on our land, that’s a fact! Spirit mediums in native Zimbabwe would foretell the future and guide resistance movements against the colonial oppressors the same way Israelites would consult prophets before a war, to the extent that Saul even asked a seer for lost donkeys (1 Samuel 9 vs 9-11), and that obviously would never go down well with oppressors. Of course, there would be evil people in every generation who used medicines to kill, maim, bewitch and do all sorts of evil. That’s not what spirit mediums that represent the Almighty do! In Zimbabwe, mudzimu, (ancestral observations) masvikiro (spirit mediums), and huroyi (witchcraft) were all rounded into one thing through colonial propaganda -Evil spirits! Evil for mobilising and resisting colonialism? No. I do not condone witchcraft here, and neither does traditional worship tolerate it. All I am saying is, right spirit mediums do not practice witchcraft, they rise against it! Same as the Bible acknowledges that there will be false prophets. Divinely sent spirit mediums guide, give advice and boost people’s confidence to tackle challenges with faith for a better tomorrow, just as a true prophet will always do!
So, this begs the question, before Christianity spread into Zimbabwe, was God not with Zimbabwe? Has he now disappeared from where he used to speak from because modern worship has been propagated to cover 80 per cent of the population? Do numbers make one form of worship right and the other form wrong? If numbers did matter, then Noah should have been the most embarrassed Man of God to save just eight people in his generation! (Genesis 7). Because a particular way of worship is popular, it doesn’t make it pure, especially if it looks at other forms as evil, demonic and satanic. As Zimbabweans, we should grow to tolerate diversity of worship and respect that we are chosen to be at different places at different times, worshipping the same God as I have learnt today from Sekuru Magaya’s presentation.
Allow me to speak now on the issues of reburials and rituals for the fallen ancestors that were taken from the motherland and displayed as artefacts in foreign museums. Let us see what the Bible says about this.
• King David reburied Saul and Jonathan (2 Samuel 21 vs 12-14) as a sign of respect for his friend Jonathan and his King Saul despite Saul hunting David and wanting to KILL him (1 Samuel 19).
• Moses took Joseph’s bones with him towards the promised land (Exodus 13 vs 19). Despite him not reaching the promised land, he knew the significance of ritual burials for leaders of his generation that he instructed Joshua to make sure this is observed. Joshua fulfilled the ritual by reburying Joseph’s bones when they arrived in the promised (Joshua 24 vs 32)
• Not only is it of cultural importance to rebury the deceased as per customs to which they were born and belonged, but it also allows God Almighty to have Mercy on the land and cleanse it. Prophet Ezekiel prophecies this whole concept in Ezekiel chapter 39. Verses 14 and 15 particularly strike me because they do not stick only about the bones of those we are gathered here to talk about; the verses speak of EVERY bone that has not been buried! Every bone that remains improperly lying in the earth without proper burial from ALL generational conflicts to the present! This task is for the spiritually gifted to take up with authorities that be such that our beautiful land Zimbabwe is cleansed, and its people enjoy the fruits of her blessings after ALL bones are appropriately buried, according to prophet Ezekiel.
I know some of us here in the UK are comfortable being buried in the cemeteries around because we now have mortgages around and we moved on from life associated with Zimbabwe. I agree we all have choices. All I can say is, there is need to check in all these cemeteries and see if there are many foreign nationals in it! Even soldiers in the battlefront tell you that you do not leave a fellow soldier behind, dead or alive. They instead take fire going back to collect the remains of a fallen soldier than leave it there. Ever asked oneself why that is? These are questions of ancestry, belonging of spirit and procedures that make the spirit rest. Arguably, Christ was buried in a temporary tomb because he was to resurrect, and he did! But on all his journey, he did everything as per his traditional upbringing: reading and quoting the scriptures written before him (Luke 4:17-21). He was circumcised as per tradition(Luke 2:21). He paid temple fees like everyone else as per tradition (Matthew 17: 24-27) The Jewish tradition that is! He even increased wine at a wedding (wine drinking is now unholy in modern worship), because Jewish weddings allowed for wine! The believers would call to Christ by his genealogical ancestor’s names; Son of David, son of David! By faith, and get healed (Matthew 9 vs 27-31: Luke 18 vs 38). Was David, Joseph? The biological father of Jesus was Joseph! Sekuru Linos Wengara Magaya here just said the mention of Mwari in traditional Zimbabwean worship refers to Jesus, who then will take the message to the Most High, the Creator of Heaven and Earth! Does anyone spot similarities here? Yes, plenty of them!
So where is the discord? Why do we call our traditional worship, respect and honour demonic and evil? To label, other forms of forms of prayer demonic is to remain COLONISED in the mindset, precisely the result the missionary propaganda machine wanted to achieve by calling traditional worship evil. I speak of these matters for the sake of my children’s generation such that they know their roots. The fact that what the Bible represents in its teaching about ancestry is what Zimbabwe already practised well before the Bible came should remove all discord and antagonism to any sane, true worshipper of God Almighty. Because there were issues in colonisation of the mind at play from the colonial masters of the time, every native form of spiritual praise and communication with the divine was banned, mediums beheaded and hanged to silence it all. I am glad some Church settings resisted colonial forms of worship and incorporated traditionalism all the way through despite persecution from colonialists! I belong to a religion that allows Mbira (traditional thumb piano) to be played in Church, where traditional leaders and different spiritual leaders are welcome and recognised with the highest form of respect there can be. I am deeply religious, a devout Zionist Christian, a motivational speaker and social analyst who does not take issues at face value. I take time to scratch beneath the surface to find a few variables that help me understand the topic under discussion full circle. As a development specialist, I then have no choice than to listen and learn from different views around the world. As an author, I am informed by people’s dilemmas to write and seek solutions in new ways. As a parent, I listen to my children as they ask questions of their time, and the worst sin I can commit is to give them a partial answer: my beliefs and convictions! That’s why I am here today, to learn and share, so that I can tell my children and their friends a balanced view on Zimbabwe’s culture, tradition and religion as well as why it is essential to perform traditional rituals. Our children ask difficult questions sometimes, and it is our responsibility to answer them with nothing but the truth. Moses prophesied these moments way back in the book of Deuteronomy:
20 In the future, when your son asks you, “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?”21 tell him: “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 22 Before our eyes, the Lord sent signs and wonders—great and terrible—on Egypt and Pharaoh and his whole household. 23 But he brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land he promised on oath to our ancestors. 24 The Lord commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the Lord our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today.25 And if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.”
With this verse, I leave my case in the jury of your consciences to absorb what can be and discard the irrelevant. Like I said from the start, this is a preventative development that starts with the development of the right mindset; by feeding it the correct information that allows for respectful, informed discussions with young people who look up to us as their role models. Moses had answers for the Israelites born after “the great trek into promised land”. What explanation does Zimbabwe have to the young generation about traditional Zimbabwean ways of worship that informed the 1st Chimurenga onwards should the same question that Moses anticipated, come up in a history lesson!?
I leave each of you to answer that one, respectfully, please!
I thank you for listening.
Morrisen Mamutse is a development specialist, author, motivational speaker and Founding Director of YAAYEDU World Initiative Ltd. (A registered company in England and Wales). YAAYEDU stands for Young Adults And Youth Empowerment, Development, Unlimited!
He has published his 1st book: SORTED; A young people’s guide to successful careers and happy relationships. Available on Amazon.co.uk
2nd book, Otty, the village pilot, is coming soon!
He can be contacted on; firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact: +44 7535 899 053
The event was sponsored by Senditoo, Cassava Remit, News of The South, Great Zimbabwe International Festival, Zimbuzz, Zimlink, Nakai Media, Showbiz, Zimbabwe A World Of Wonders, Pamtengo Radio, Diaspora Funeral Cashplan.
By Lloyd Msipa. (News of The South) – ..
Harare, Zimbabwe (News of the South)-Incumbent ..
By Lazarus Nyagumbo. Why are you not benefiting ..
Zimbabweans In The UK Call For Zimborush To Halt Deportations To Zimbabwe, Demo At London Parliament
Press release. The Zimbabwe Diaspora Network ..