African ceremonies to precede moves from Zambezi

The Rhodesian Herald, 17 July 1956
WITHIN the next fortnight, ceremonies for the propitiation of spirits will begin among the MaKorekore and VaGowa tribes of the Zambezi Valley, in preparation for the great migration caused by the Kariba scheme.

Altogether, 50 000 Africans will have to be moved away from both banks of the river, and a start is being made on the Southern Rhodesia side in about two weeks’ time.

By the end of the year it is hoped to have moved 400 MaKorekore families from west of the Sanyati junction up to 90 miles inland; 725 VaGowa families from east of the junction into the Urungwe Reserves.

“When they move, they all have a ceremony to put the spirits they are leaving behind torest,” said a Native Affairs spokesman yesterday.

Development work inland of the river has been pressed ahead this year and hundreds of miles of new roads built. The tribes will be moved by convoys of lorries and the migration as a whole will extend over next year and possibly 1958, depending on the state of the river.

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There have been rumours that the tribes have been reconciled to the move partly because of the freak floods of this year, which are taken as an indication that the monster of the Zambezi, the Nyaminyami approves of Kariba.

The Nyaminyami is a vast serpent, corresponding generally to the Lock Ness monster, which causes floods when it swims up the river.

On the Northern Rhodesian bank, the resettlement of BaTongas in the Gwembe Valley will involve the symbolic removal of shrines of the graves of former Chiefs.

LESSONS FOR TODAY
The construction of the Kariba Dam led to the forced migration of many ethnic groups that were relocated to other parts of the country.

Every nation values its culture, and Africa is no different. In Zimbabwe, burial sites are important and it has seen some ethnic groups refusing to be relocated, leaving behind their relatives’ remains.

The fact that the colonisers agreed that the ceremonies be performed, is an indicator that they understood the importance of performing the spiritual rites.

If people agree to be relocated, they normally perform some rituals, which they believe will appease the spirits of their departed relatives.

Two years after performing the rites, there were unprecedented floods that resulted in the death of 90 people, and the destruction of part of the wall, but this did not stop the construction.

The construction of Kariba Dam was a major investment which has seen the country benefiting through tourism and the generation of electricity and power.

For historical information contact:
Zimpapers Knowledge Centre at Herald House on:
+263 8677 004323;
+263 0242 795771
E-mail: [email protected]

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HERALD