The whole village was in a deep slumber. Drums could be heard from afar, their incessant throbbing made dogs to bark madly, barking into the blank ink greyness of the dark winter nights. This time of the year the pastures are dead brown and baboons barked in lowered voices, babies clung behind their mother “backs with a heavy grip against the biting winds. The strong winds persisted for a month without a pause.

Grand mother told me of Dzivaremvura-the River Goddess who needed appeasement to save  the cold ravaged and hunger ridden village. Once upon a time ,  Chief Dandajena slaughtered the Nyaminyami reptile whose medium  spirit were in the realm  and oracle of Dzivaremvura the River Godess.He slaughtered it and ate it with his council – Dare rake. Ambuya said   the Chief/ Mambo had defied the oracle of the goddess of the land, who was the supreme diviner, rain giver, the healer and the protector the land of Dandajena. Since then, rains became scarce. Many children died of leprosy, villagers lived in fear, their prayers for rain and good health fell on deaf ears. It seemed the gods were all dead, deaf and silent. Grandmother said the Gods were angry . Many fishermen got chewed by crocodiles and many young girls disappeared causing headaches to   the already grieved village.

That winter, the cold wind persisted and nobody had harvested, the fields were dressed in red clay ragged earth with no life on them. The wind that started in small ripples in the beginning of the winter grew into   steady whirlwinds, which left elders including Ambuya   nodding their heads in disgust. Such wind was not heard of in their young years. The elders of those years respected the gods and goddesses of the lands; they gave them due respect   and sacrifices of sheep and gold. They will go to their sacred place of the  gods  and goddesses  and offer them the sacrifice offering early morning before the bathing of elephant – Mashambanzou.

While Ambuya was grappling with the sudden heavy winds sweeping across the land , the wind increased into a  torrent  , a big wave , a tornado. It swept through Nyarugwe river , the haven of the  Dzivaremvura the River Goddess ,the medium of Nyami-nyami. The wind left the river naked  with  not  even a drop of water, the   maJiri forest was left   in utter nudity, the whole  valleys  were left  bare, the village huts  were torn down,  surprisingly nobody died. “This was a big sign of big trouble coming”, ambuya marvelled.

After the surge of the wind, Chief Dandajena wailed and winced. He rushed to river, he found it dry and yawning with emptiness. The thin  cows  slept by the sand banks of  the naked river in disgust . Children shivered in the cold, their mothers cried of lose of their homes. It was a festival of tears, misery, grief, hunger and thought. Grandmother remained  calm, her  aging face and bending body  told  the whole village   a story , a story  of wisdom , a story of courage , a story of hope  and faith . She had seen many famines, troubles   with her aging but strong  eyes. Her hut was the only one left by  the winds.

Mambo rushed to Ambuya   two nights after the winds. He was seeking for  wisdom,wisdom for redeeming the land.Ambuya was the remaining daughter of the oracle of Dzivaremvura. She knew how to appease and  she knew all the names of spirit mediums both male and female. She knew how to offer the sacrifice. She was taught by her grandfather about the totems  and tribes of the land. She had   in the folders of memories  the procedure of how to appease  the Gods  and  exorcise the land  from the ravaging sins and troubles. She wouldn’t dare  do  it  or talk about it without  the command from Dandajena, he was brutal , cruel and autocratic  that everyone feared  him  including dogs and baboons would not bark in his face. This was the time for his submission. Ambuya advised him  to   slaughter one of his remaining white bull and  brew   traditional beer for  a mini-ceremony. The slaughtering was to be done by barefooted men  and the brewing was to be done  by old women who no longer bear children or follow the moon. They were to take the whole carcass and pots  of the brew to the Nyarugwe river. The pots would carried by young girls who had never tested the  sweetness  of manhood , whose breasts were still little horns and succulent , untouched.

The winds raged during the whole seven days of preparation, no one lived in huts  except  for Ambuya. The whole village endured cold and biting nights. They couldn’t build anything before the grand ritual.

The day arrived , they went to river ,  grandmother  supplicated to the Goddess of  the river , the anc estors and the lineage accompanied  by Dandajena,  accepting his  sins and pleading to the  Goddess of the land  to restore the village. Elderly women ululated, elderly men whistled . The festival was punctuated by Mhande dances and throbbing drums. People ate and drank, they threw   all the bones in the river  for the  Goddess and her  council  to  feast as well. A full pot of frothing brew was poured into the yawning river accompanied elderly and spiritual incarnantations.

Suddenly, the rage stopped.  The whole vibrating earth became serene. Unexpectedly there  was  a sharp crackling , followed by a sound  like that of  the cough of an  elderly  woman , a crackling , ear splitting  thunder  again , followed by  a  roar  like that of   a fierce  lion. The dry naked river yawned widely, it  roared  , it gushed with water , life returned in the river. Crocodiles slithered from one river bank  to the other, small  fish  jostled excitedly in the cascading fresh  waters.

The village became drunk with happiness. Dancing eating and drums continued until midnight.

Dzivaremvura , the River Goddess had forgiven  Dandajena  and  his tribe

Ambuya was   bestowed as the Devine spirit medium of the land- Mhondoro yokwaDandajena.



Comment on this Post


This has so much beautiful imagery! I really love the power of the Goddess and the fact that Ambuya takes charge and shares her knowledge. I gathered from this that lands suffer when women are oppressed and their voices can't be heard. Yet, when women are able to express their thoughts, society can flourish. Would you consider this to be a correct interpretation?