Spirit mediums are organizing a traditional cleansing ceremony to be held at Matopos National Park. The ceremony will see spirit mediums, known as amawosana in Kalanga and ihosana in Ndebele, performing rituals following the fall of a balancing rock from a hill top in the park early June, something that traditional leaders have since interpreted as a bad omen from ancestors.
The rock, estimated to weigh between two and three tones, reportedly was first seen by villagers from Silozwi area, located south of the national park. Reports from Matabeleland South indicate that the rock measuring about 2 m high and about 5 m in diameter rolled down hill for about 100 m before landing on a Circular Drive, one of the roads in the game park.
The hill from which it fell is about a kilometre south-east of Malindidzimu, where Cecil John Rhodes’ grave (or View of the World) is situated. Spirit mediums, traditional healers and chiefs in the province have since instructed that the boulder be not removed until a ritual has been performed at the site, anytime soon.
Culturalists and traditional leaders connected this occurence with the unsanctioned pilgrimage at the nearby Njelele Shrine by Zanu-PF members. According to the former, it was an indication the ancestors were angry and needed to be appeased. Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority officials however said the rock could have fallen due to weather, while some Christians said there were no ancestral spirits involved in the matter.
Commenting on his Facebook wall, Paul Hubbard, Bulawayo-based archeologist and heritage consultant, said that the fall of the rock had “all the local people muttering darkly about unhappy spirits and ancestors.” While a friend of Paul Hubbard, Pearl Shadwell, a former Bulawayo resident, recalls that at Maleme dam on the Kopjes “many years ago, at least 40, a young man [was] cimbing between 2 large bolders, when a large rock wedged above him, fell and crushed him.” She added that “it was such a freak accident because everyone used to climb to the top almost every weekend.”
According to Chief Masuku, in whose jurisdiction falls the Matopos National Park, spirit mediums from different shrines in the province went to see the rock. “We visited the site where the rock fell with spirit mediums from Njelele and Bulilima and they said there is something about the rock. They believed it has a message and some rituals should be performed,” said Chief Masuku, who back in March claimed that miniskirts anger God. “That is why the nation is struck by drought and diseases.”
Contacted for comment by Zimdiaspora, social commentator and historian Pathisa Nyathi said he visited the place too. Nyathi said the action that would be taken would depend on how the fall of the rock would be interpreted. “If they believe what happened has to do with tradition, certain traditional rituals would be conducted. But if the explanation is that it is a result of weather then the rock will just be removed,” said Nyathi.
A team of traditionalists led by David Mhabhinyane Ngwenya, an inyanga based at Gwabalanda in Bulawayo, visited the area on a fact-finding mission and reported back to Chief Masuku, prompting the visit by spirit mediums.