When beliefs clash – the Empire strikes back

IT HAS been an interesting few days since last Friday when I wrote the article “When Beliefs Clash”. No sooner had the article appeared than I seemed to have all kinds of news items relating to beliefs following me. I popped open The Guardian website and there was British scientist, Stephen Hawking, proclaiming: “There is no heaven or afterlife. That is a fairytale.”

On the Zimpapers website I was confronted by the headline “ZAOGA church suspends Pastor for consulting n’anga”. Next, someone sent an e-mail to the staff list and it read: “Triskaidekaphobia – fear of Friday the 13th”. As for my inbox I had some really interesting e-mails coming through. As I like arguing, the internet can be a force for good – helping us in harvesting collective wisdom. And wisdom I did receive from the readers. I will quote at length a couple of the e-mails I got.

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David Katandika sent me a whole thesis – a very well-reasoned argument that he should have titled “The education of one Kabwato in matters of the spirit”.

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Here is part of the text from Katandika: “The Peter Sibanda issue was no more than a bluff and extreme grand-standing by an enterprising traditional healer who had been given an opportunity to market himself before an international panel, the western scientist acted in a mature manner as opposed to the childish antics of the late healer and refused to participate in such a silly antic. Sibanda was not going to produce a lightning bolt just like that, and that’s for sure. 

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I am going to zone in on the last three paragraphs of your article; you state that contrary to Madzibaba’s claim Givhi did not get better. Why don’t we look at it this way – I know someone who is undergoing medical (modern) therapy for cancer, that is chemotherapy and radiology etc, this combination has been known many times to conquer or eradicate the disease. In this case his condition has continued to deteriorate, possibly he may have started treatment when it was already too late and the major irreversible damage had already been done so all this medical treatment is taking its time to have an effect or is totally failing to work. There is every possibility that in the long run he may improve and recover totally, or it will go the other way.

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By the same token Givhi may have been brought to Madzibaba when serious damage had already happened and the removal of the marbles had effectively stopped the worsening of his condition, perhaps Givhi eventually regained his faculties or he remained at the same level of illness, neither worsening nor getting better. The bottom line in both cases can be the point at which intervention was initiated and in either case that does have an effect on the outcome of the treatment given, ie there is possible prevention of worsening of the condition, successful treatment or it was all futile in the end. 

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The genius of the African is that we are able to straddle a number of worlds you say, I would want to re-phrase that to that the genius of the African is the ability to live in the real world as it is without adding or subtracting. By the real world I am talking about a world where death is not necessarily the end of life but a mere crossing over into another (spiritual) realm where if one’s earthly record is not tainted by the unjustified shedding of innocent blood and other very serious sins one is re-directed to come and take care of the living. Kurova guva / imbuyiso is a ceremony for calling back and liberating the spirit of the deceased so that they can do their best to look after the welfare of their living descendants. If one’s record is tainted there is no acceptance into the established ancestral sectors of the spiritual realm and one is condemned to wander the earth as a demon. Perhaps at this point I will hasten to highlight the fact that the shedding of innocent blood by taking a life is the supreme sin that, traditionally, can never ever be forgiven, that is why it is necessary to appease the spirit and compensate the family of a murdered person.”

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And this is only a portion of the e-mail that Katandika sent me!

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Then enter Munjodzi Mutandiri who reminded me that in 2006 in Shamva a man and a woman fell from the sky in their winnowing baskets (rusero) and were found naked in someone’s yard. Mutandiri continues, “The young man was asked why they could not use the same technology to just enjoy themselves or to go where ever they want to go. His answer was that he could not use the technology except when performing witchcraft.”

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The point Mutandiri makes on how our African magic only works in certain circumstances is echoed by “Mukoma Charlie” who writes:

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“I once carried out a crude research among elders some of whom were spirit mediums, diviners etc. A common observation was that they were all agreed that black magic or sorcery from an African can only harm a person whose totem and ancestral lineage is known to the malevolent agent. Incantations invoking named lineage spirits of potential victim are made. This is the vital cog. The spoken word works together with magic, familiars etc to harm, maim or kill victim. Now, nobody knows the ancestral spirits and lineages of the white man. Hence, no harm will come to him. By extension, anyone else whose above details are not known to the sorcerer or wizard shall be immune to the wicked machinations. Now I think this is a “kenge” response worth a bottle of Coke!”

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Yes Charlie, you, Katandika, Mutandiri, Bhene, Ngwenya, Matamanda and Mutsago do deserve that Delta beverage one of these good days. Next week I pose the question “Does science kill imagination?” Till then, be kenge!

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Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet. ChrisKabwato

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PS: Get in on the action, let Chris know what you think of his articles by dropping a line or two at kumbirayi@gmail.com

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Publisher: Chris Kabwato  

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Editor: Levi Kabwato (editor@zimbabweinpictures.com)

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