16 September 1967

By Dumisani Kufaruwenga

The labour pains hit her at 12:43 hours on 16 September 1967 whilst she slept in Mbuya VaJane’s hut whose floor was rammed smooth with clay and disinfected and polished with fresh cow dung which was mixed with water.

Her husband’s family members convened a quick meeting in the thick of night, and in hushed tones which concealed both excitement and fear, they there and then made a decision to send two emissaries to hire teacher Mafukidze’s car to carry the expecting mother to Shurugwi hospital.

Dhevhison Dharikeni the nephew and Musinja The Forthright armed themselves with knobkerries and axes, before setting off on the 12 kilometre journey on foot to seek teacher Mafukidze and his truck from Mabedzenge Primary Skool accross Musabezi River.

The eerie darkness of the hour did not deter them.

ln the meantime, a team of the village midwives led by Mai Jonah, the wife of Mutumwapavi the valourous wartime warrior who was meek, had water boiling in a clay pot in no time, as they sterilised the vllage surgical instruments consisting of razor blades, a pair of scissors and fibre from the tail end of the village bull.

This they did in case things went wrong, and the child had to be delivered without the assistance of the whiteman’s hospital.

And things did go wrong. 

Dhevison Dhariken the nephew and Musinja The Forthright failed to locate teacher Mafukidze and his truck. Teacher Mafukidze had taken his truck to a far off land the previous day, and would not be expected back home for onether few days, his wife announced.

And so dejected Dhevhison Dharikeni the nephew and Musinja The Forthright trudged back to the village to deliver the sad news.

A scream of excruciating pain greeted Dhevhison Dharikeni the nephew and Musinja The Forthright as they reached the precincts of Mbuya VaJane’s hut, as the expecting mother vocalised the labour pain associated with a human being whose time to escape the womb and join the world had arrived.

Dhevhison Dhariken the nephew and Musinja The xForthright were hardened men of the village who never allowed their emotions to show in public. But they shuddered involuntarily upon hearing the expecting mother shriek in the agony of child bearing.

After delivering the sad news of teacher Makukidze’s unavailability, Dhevison Dharikeni the nephew and Musinja The Forthright summoned VaZvigumbe to come and assist with the necessary rituals which are performed to plead with the ancestors for the safe arrival of a child.

All the male family members, led by VaZvigumbe, entered VaKhaki’s hut and sat on the floor and removed their hats and their shoes.

VaZvigumbe knelt at the front end of VaKhaki’s hut and sprinkled snuff on the floor, and in a deeply emotional whisper, audibly intoned;

 “We have wronged you

   countless times oh

   Sinamamo, and l 

   personally undertake to

   atone our misdeeds. 

   But for now, l beseech 

   you great gods of good,

   that you spare the child

   and its mother, for the

   child is innocent and 

   the mother is not of our

   totem.

   l praise you sons of 

   Kufaruwenga, l praise 

   you children of Gavi, l

  plead with you offspring

  of Zvigumbe, deliver 

  your child safely to us,

  and we in turn will 

  commit the child to you

  so he will glorify your 

  great name!

  Sinamano!; those with

  nothing to hide, eaters 

  of the Mutohwe fruit 

  whose food is 

  scratched from rich

  fertile soils by Hwari the

  bird.”

All the men clapped their hands in unison, emitting  a big bass rhythmic thunder.

lt was a moving performance.

And the ancestors heard them, because from inside Mbuya VaJane’s hut, and at 04:17 hours on the 16th of September 1967, the triumphant cry of a newly born healthy baby boy reverberated, amidst wild cheers and ululation from Mai Jonah and her midwifely crew;

  “He has a tail between 

   his legs, just like his 

   father “Ndobe,” the one

   who was born in the 

   swamp.

  We glorify you fierce 

  lion, the perpetuation

  of your name is now

  guaranteed!”

And so the boy who was born on 16 September 1967 was given the Ndebele name which means “Glorify,” for to the Sinamano ancestors must all glory be given.

 And his umbilical cord was interred in a shallow hole which was dug behind the door of Mbuya VaJane’s kitchen hut, a gesture of commitment to his forefathers and great ancestors.

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