One time under the sun

Society & Culture | By Gertrude Bvindi, Researcher/ Writer/Poet | 08 May 2015

I remember vividly the very day which led me to my first consultation with a spirit medium. I was in love. Like all girls my age, nothing makes sense, particularly when a man who has your eye, seems to start looking at another in the way that you would like him to look at you. My friend and I tagged along, when her sister drove to Murehwa, for a prearranged talk and visit to a famous medium. I was rather stunned to find a very amiable young woman, living in a stately house in the village, to be the object of our visit. Naturally I needed to be convinced that such a young person could have any knowledge and power to shift people’s lives around, in ways she had been deemed to. We took off our shoes and got into the house and we were sooner led to a room were the consultations took place. I was awed at the grandeur of such a house in the middle of a rural setting. What I expected however, I got, the very moment we kneeled and found our way on our knees into what I assumed the holy of holies, ‘mudare’ 1. The place has all the traditional artefacts and regalia, known to belong to mediums all over. That fact however, hardly settled me.

The medium welcomed us and sure enough, with the conversation that followed, I realised she was very familiar with our elder sister. They went on with their business by way of a question and answer session “saka achadzoka here mbuya? ”2 being continuously uttered by our eldest companion, in the snippets of the dialogue I dared listen. My mind was preoccupied in taking in my surroundings. I was taking in every clay pot, every piece of silk cloth, hung on the walls, I wondered at the texture of the animal skins on the one corner and even the very reed mat we sat on. The room was pristinely clean, and the medium wore nothing but white linen, from head to toe. As I ventured to assess her more, our eyes met, she fell silent and held my gaze for what seemed like eternity.  My heart leapt right into my mouth, unsure of what was to happen next.  She looked away and continued her chat, much of which I was again excluded.

At the end of the few minutes we were there, our much-loved older sister knelt in from of the medium and placed a 100 dollar bill in the wooden plate that was before her. She then urged us to ask any questions about what we wished to know. My friend decided on a safe topic and she asked about our results, which got the satisfactory answer that we would both do well. We did get extra unexpected details that pointed to our near separation, owing to career choices. This statement made us to frowningly look at each other, wondering what the future held. As I recovered from this slight digression, I turned to open my mouth to speak and I was caught mid lip when the medium said “wauya kuzobvunza zvekakomana kasina kana maturo” 3 , “but I will tell you this for free, ziva kwawakabva zvinhu zvinokuitira nyore”. 4 With that cryptic message we were soon ushered out of her presence to make way for the other clients.

Preoccupied with my thoughts, I barely took in the scenery we passed on our way back to the city. I waved a hearty goodbye and promised to keep in touch with my friend as she and her older sister drove away. I opened the gate, and ran inside the yard, shouting for my mother’s attention, so I could tell her about my surreal experience with the young woman, wise beyond her age, from Murehwa. I had a million unanswered questions about culture that I felt she could better explain to me, and I was anxious to get to her. As I burst through the kitchen door, I stopped dead in my tracks at the sight of a man, who looked exactly like me, sitting with my mother at the kitchen table. They both turned to look at me, as if to say something to me. At the same time I realized I was slowly losing balance, shocked and unable to comprehend what either of them was saying, with my body falling to the ground, as my mother reached me. Darkness took over. Just one thought stuck out, my roots were not where I had always thought them to be.    

1 Dare is a Shona term used as a place where court was held. For spirit mediums this is the place where rituals and consultations normally take place.
2 Translated - so will he come back? Mbuya is the respectful term given to any female spirit medium. 
3 Translated - You have come to ask about a useless boy.
4 Translated - Know where you come from, things will become easier for you.