Fortious Nhambura Senior Features Writer
Guruve’s “Jesus” reincarnated, Tepsy Nyanhete, came to prominence nearly two decades ago.
At the age of six Tepsy with the assistance of her parents founded a “church” Mudzimu Unoyera that has discreetly survived the tumultuous years.
Though many people say Mudzimu Unoyera has crossed the line and is now a cult, staunch followers believe they are not different from any other church.
They just have a different way of doing things, if anything their Jesus returned years back and they have the privilege of staying with her.
At the height of its “success” many children who had stopped going to school to follow “Girl Jesus” were rescued from the “church” and her sister Moses sent to rehabilitate in Harare under the care of social workers.
Her parents got arrested and did time for child abuse.
The Mudzimu Unoyera “church” housed in Chatiza Village, Guruve remains a mystery to many people in the area.
As Girl Jesus transforms into a woman, things get weirder by the day yet the “church” remains intact, some faithful followers still coming.
Even local villagers have accepted the mysterious church and call the homestead kwaJesu.
Like a sore thumb, the homestead stands out from the rest.
Sky blue painted houses are decorated with stars.
What keeps them strong when everyone else deems their conduct ungodly?
We try to find out.
It is Friday afternoon when we drive into the homestead to check on the now grown “Girl Jesus” and her “disciples”.
Now 23, “Girl Jesus”, still spends most of her time in her bedroom.
She still speaks the strange titinoia piridia language only understood by those in her “church”.
We park our car outside the homestead and two guards, a young boy and a woman, immediately come to our assistance.
After a short briefing the boy disappears into one of the huts at the compound.
He reappears after 15 minutes and orders us to drive into the homestead.
“You lock your car and follow me,” the young man commands.
We oblige and follow him to some big round hut.
In the hut is an old frail looking man who from the countless wrinkles competing for a place on his face has chopped time like yam, as the Nigerians would put it.
He is at the shrine for treatment of an undisclosed ailment and believes “Girl Jesus” is the panacea to his problem.
He looks alien in the hut whose walls are laced with drawings and effigies of their version of Jesus and mother Mary.
There are also inscriptions in their titinoia piridia language which is the official language of communication at the homestead.
After stating our mission again to one of the “church” members the man disappears and returns after nearly 20 minutes to tell us that Mai Maria, Entrance Nyanhete has agreed to speak to us.
We follow the two men to where we had parked our car and as in the previous instance; we are instructed to drive slowly behind the two marching men to the two roomed house that is used as the official temple.
Next to the temple is a boat. I wonder what they use it for in an area visibly miles from any water body. I keep the question for later.
At the temple door, we are joined by 10 more people of all ages.
They allow us to carry our cameras and voice recorders but instruct us to only use them when given permission.
The list of rules seems endless.
We also have to wait at the door as the leader of the other followers communicates with a voice behind the door in titinoia piridia.
For a while the young man converses with the voice in their language and we are finally granted permission to enter the temple.
What is to follow is a litany of rituals done in their language.
After close to 15 minutes of these rituals members of the church start marching into the house to the beat of heavy drum and song.
In moments to follow we enter the temple. As we enter the party moves rhythmically to the songs.
The dances, clapping and movements are well co-ordinated to the sound of the drum and wild clapping of hands.
All this is allegedly to invite the spirit to converse with us.
In the house are effigies, the famous three headed snake and pictures of “Girl Jesus” in different stages of her life starting from her childhood to teen years.
There is a cart filled with toys that we learn belong to her.
Meanwhile the song and dance continues until they burst into a Shona song “Uya muone Mai Maria”.
Even the Zimbabwe’s national anthem is sung in their language.
They also sing the African anthem Nkosi sikeleli iAfrica in both shona and titinoia piridia.
It is a mixed bag of entertainment.
After what appears to be ages of song, dance and whistling everyone sits down and a voice comes from behind inquiring about us. We identify ourselves, state our mission and the media house we are from.
The voice inquires whether we have visited the DA’s office, the local chief or headman’s office to seek permission to visit the shrine. We were caught unawares.
“You are supposed to seek authority before coming here. The authorities need to know who comes here and on what mission,” the voice from behind the curtain adds.
As a formality we were asked to visit the local headman Sabhuku Chatiza and we complied.
Upon return we had to follow the same rituals before we got an opportunity to speak to the voice behind the curtain.
We now knew the voice belonged to Mai Maria.
“We are moving ahead with the religion. This is not a religion for blacks only but that of both blacks and white.
“This is the church of Jesus that was started across the sea.
“The same spirit of Jesus that appeared in Israel is the same that has reincarnated in Girl Jesus.
“Like in the past people said Jesus of Nazareth, they are now saying Jesus of Guruve.
“This is your creator who has come to help Africa, accept her and you will prosper. Jesus has come to intercede for both believer and non believers. Because the world is full of mockers it has failed to see the truth of the living Christ,” says Mai Maria through an interpreter.
She explains Girl Jesus worked with the local spirit mediums to ensure prosperity comes to the world.
“Girl Jesus is now 23 and is still single as she said I will not marry. Those who say she is pregnant or married are liars. Anyone can come and see her anytime here. We pray most of the time and if she is not here she would have visited some of her temples elsewhere,” she further explains.
After going through the development of the church and insisting on seeing “Girl Jesus” we are ushered to the small cubicle that houses Mai Maria and “Girl Jesus”.
Inside the cubicle is a bed that is sitting above a man made pool of water with marine life.
Small fish and crabs can be seen in the clear water.
The bed is covered in white linen, a white veil and Christmas paraphernalia.
On the bed sits Mai Maria and her daughter “Girl Jesus”.
According to Mai Maria, “Girl Jesus” cannot speak Shona though it is visible that she understands what we are saying.
“She speaks only titinoia piridia and has to speak through an interpreter,” Mai Maria adds.
After taking pictures of “Girl Jesus” and Mai Maria we finally talk to her.
“The problems that humankind faces have forced me to return on earth.
“All races black and white must come and worship me because time is fast running out. I am not an idol but the “Holy Spirit”. Don’t try me I am your God. What I want is the truth,” she said.
After her words the congregants whistle and ululate.
Immediately after the brief conversation she leaves for her quarters as we leave the temple for our car.