The River Goddess.

Mbizo Chirasha
Posted July 10, 2015 from Zimbabwe

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.

Comments 3

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Erin Valentine
Jul 10, 2015
Jul 10, 2015

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?

Jensine Larsen
Jul 12, 2015
Jul 12, 2015

Exquisite, exquisite, exquisite!  We rejoice in the talents of your heart's pen!

Mbizo Chirasha
Jun 13, 2016
Jun 13, 2016

Thank you guys for the  cheer . Iam quite grateful .Lets keep going  and moving.