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Perpetrator apologizes to community at Zaka traditional cleansing
December 07, 2010
4th of December was a hive of activity in Zaka district when village
heads in Ward 24 under Chief Bota carried cleansing ceremonies in
memory of victims of the 2008
political violence. The ceremonies were coordinated by Chief
Bota and the village heads who invited all the villagers in their
respective jurisdiction. The rituals created a rare platform for
victims and perpetrators to come together under one banner of building
a unifying society without political slogans. All motivated by the
fact that formal court structures up to the supreme court cannot
deal with cases of spirit appeasement agreed to put the onus on
traditional leaders to cleanse their communities as there is a historical
belief that failure to do so will result in bad omen on both the
perpetrator and the community at large.
When the village heads announced the initiative to the villagers,
they were quick to provide labour and also made donations in the
form of rapoko for brewing the traditional beer for the ceremony.
The process of making pledges is unifying as villagers have a sense
of ownership of the whole process. The ceremonies started on Friday
night where villagers spent the night dancing and in the process
the spirit mediums led the process of appeasing the spirits of those
who died during the political violence period. The rituals continued
into the early hours of Saturday.
Villagers had the whole day of Saturday to discuss
pertinent issues affecting peace in their respective communities.
Speaker after speaker stood up and castigated the use of any form
of intimidation and violence during election periods especially
by outsiders. There was an outstanding case of Amos (not his real
name) who stood up on a gathering of close to 150 village members
and apologized to one of the youth in attendance stating that during
the 2008 political violence he was sent by base commanders to abduct
him and he together with nine other guys followed the victim to
a funeral but failed to locate him. Tichaona (not his real name)
had already been informed of his trailers and had to flee the area.
Heal Zimbabwe applaud this as a positive step towards peace building
initiatives. The villagers capitalized on the event and pledged
to create peace clubs where they want to come together as a community
and initiate strategies they can use to protect each other in the
event of political violence.
It is the responsibility of the Government to spearhead
the national healing process but to date nothing has materialized
as a step towards the healing process. The delay by the Government
to make a break through to initiate the process is hampering peace
building activities being initiated at the community level as most
ring leaders of political violence snub such processes knowing that
they have a cover from some Government officials. The absence of
comprehensive national healing framework has denied opportunities
for perpetrators of political violence and torture to interact and
ask for forgiveness from their neighbors and victims at community
level. The combination of psychological torture of perpetrators,
traditional beliefs and superstition of the avenging spirits has
informed traditional leaders to call for traditional cleansing ceremonies
to mend relations between victims and perpetrators and appease the
spirits for the innocent loss of lives during the political violence
It is one of
the most interesting ideas related to community development. It
builds on the concept that the soul is significant in building community
capacity. One way to build community capacity is through rituals
because they involve acknowledging, relating, healing and celebrating.
Rituals can also provide stability and promote a sense of solidarity
and cohesion. Creating space for rituals may be an avenue to rebuilding
fragile communities. Ritual is integral to rural life in Zimbabwe,
from the daily calls to prayer to the wedding celebrations every
weekend. Daily rituals, annual celebrations, they create space for
communities to exchange information, build trust and community,
and reaffirm their identities. While the GPA
was signed more than two years ago, there remains a desperate need
for Zimbabweans to process their experiences and heal. And rituals
like this celebration seem like one step towards healing.
Traditional leaders in Zaka have seen the need to come up with community
activities that keep community relations intact in the face of adversity.
The presence of war veteran leader, Jabulani Sibanda in Masvingo
province left villagers in shock after being force marched to meetings
where all sorts of threats to their lives were made if they ever
voted for the opposition. The Ritualisation process comes in the
wake of support rendered to after Heal Zimbabwe assisted families
of victims of political violence in carrying out memorial services
for the deceased and supported the surviving families to run low
cost income generating projects in Zaka and other districts around
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