An hour in Inyangani

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AN HOUR IN INYANGANI

Just as my eyes were recovering from the temporary blindness spelt by the momentary dazzling brilliance which had emanated seemingly from nowhere, I noticed that I was standing in the middle of a strange scenic meadow. So vast was it, vanishing on an intersection with the indigo horizon in the distant northern and southern bearings. A continuous mountain range obscuring the far east as it extends from south to north and its peak ridge concealed by the only stratus clouds visible in the sky. A cool fresh breeze caressed my skin, awakening deep sensations. The strangeness, silence and ambience of the place were striking. I didn’t know which direction to head, neither did I know if I was supposed to move at all. I tried to recall how I had ended up in this place but to no avail. I was stuck.

After what seemed to be ages of being glued to a single spot, I decided to venture more to the eastern side of the meadow, towards the mountain range to pass time and wait for the worst. After an unmeasured period of walking aimlessly, I noticed that the meadow was beginning to break, giving way to more distinct bushes and birds began to replace the butterflies as majority air traffickers. As if from a trauma, the chirping of the birds pierced my ears momentarily as I suddenly regain my hearing, the sounds gradually developing into sweet melodies. For the first time, I could hear the beautiful humming and whistling sounds of the breeze on the grass and shrubs- and everything was so good. I lost my sense of being in a strange place and embraced a sense of belonging; this was supposed to be my home. So, lost was I, I didn’t notice myself walking into the forest that marked the feet of the range.

I hadn’t proceeded well long into the forest when the thick blanket of antiquity suddenly left me, stripping me of the false bravery I had adopted. An oscillating bulge on my chest signified the rate at which my heart was responding to the scary atmosphere blanketing the forest. It was a dark forest with tall trees spreading in all line of sights, their tops forming an umbrella that hid the sky completely. I had hoped for the worst earlier but didn’t expect it to come in a horrific way. Every part of my body was sweating. Strings of imaginations were tying my mind, haunting it with inexplicable adventures. I tried to make myself say a short last prayer but my body and soul were worlds apart. The only thing I wanted to do was scream. At least if any man-eater was around or napping, I could summon it to finish me before fear did the job nastily. I opened my mouth wide, inhaled deeply to harness all the powers of screaming I possessed and closing my eyes I….

It didn’t go well as expected. Just as I was about to let out the loudest scream of my life, an invisible force instantaneously sealed my lips. I struggled to swallow the air that was going to broadcast my son but had been unexpectedly deterred from blasting out. I tried to open my mouth and strangely, the lips parted without any effort. I tested my ability to speak by saying “hello” to myself and I was perfect.  Ignoring the previous failure, I resolved to attempt a scream again but this time a little bit cautious with closing eyes and inhaling much. That was a foolish trial for it just ended the same as the first one.

“don’t trouble yourself Mister”, a scary lazy sounding word characteristically hit my ears further dividing my soul and body. A chilly feeling ran down my spine, shaking my feet like the clattering of a galvanised iron sheets moment after a shockwave. The voice had emanated from directly behind me but turning around to face the source was completely a new story and I didn’t want to be the main character in that story. “ this forest is sacred hence you cannot make a sound above normal conversation pitch lest you disturb the great spirits from their peaceful slumbers to wreak havoc and possibly bring judgement too soon.” The voice went on pronouncing each word with clarity as if it was addressing a kindergarten pupil. It had talked too much in these two short sentences. Questions started to cascade my head. For the first time, I began doubting the validity of Newton’s third law for the action of questions bombarding my mind did not awaken a similar reaction of answers pouring in.

Who were the great spirits, where was I, who was the owner of that voice, why was I here and what judgement was the voice talking about…? These were some of the questions which demanded answers I couldn’t provide.  Gaining my bravery from these questions and requiring answers, I drastically turned around to face the origins of the voice. To my utmost horror, space was empty. This further frightened me. I turned around, to the left, to the right …everywhere, and still, there was no one or at least no one visible.

“I am right here mister, turn around and try to focus,” the voice projected from directly behind me again. I slowly turned around and on initial glance, there was only an empty space. “Let go of your fear for it is limiting you, connect with your spiritual eyes for you are no longer in your physical realm”, the voice instructed me as usual with clarity.  I breathed in and out slowly to relax and as I did so…. things began to change. I was not in the middle of the jungle as I had previously supposed. I was in a middle of what looked like a shrine. To the eastern side were a brilliant waterfall and a gracious river of sparkling water flowing in the general south western direction. The whole place was glamourous and I cannot finish describing it. The source of the voice was there, a handsome important-looking middle-aged man. He was sitting on a throne that looked exclusively golden. A matching staff could be seen in his right hand. something about that staff hit my head- it was not new to my head. Just as I was trying to recall where I had seen or heard of the staff, the voice rang into my head. I could see that the man was not speaking for his lips remained sealed.

I know you are wondering and thinking about the staff. You want to know where you may have seen it, or maybe where you have heard of it, and don’t trouble yourself for I will be answering that and lots of questions you have”, the voice sounded and as it paused, the man motioned me to sit down.

Relax and pay attention for I am going to tell you a lot of important stuff,” pause,” this staff”, raising it up with his right hand,” you have heard of it from what you may have regarded as fantasy stories or fairy tales which make up the legends of Inyangani. This is my staff. In your legends, you say that there is a pool on Inyangani where this staff is visible on some days and anyone who tries to take it will disappear in the pool. Well, this staff is the one that I used for a long time to test the faithfulness and loyalty of our race. I could transform it into anything that I know was dearest to a traveller and put in his path. The Nyangani forests are sacred and no one is supposed to point at anything, pick anything from the road (even if you have dropped it yourself). This was a very good test of loyalty and respect to the forest spirits. If anyone dares break that instruction, he or she will be removed from the physical realm to save a very hard labour in this realm for a time imposed on him or her. Now, I moved that staff to the pool in Nyangani the time the white explorers came to this mountain. It was also befitting to test their respect and sense of morality. However, they were found wanting in various occasions as they tried to take my rod into their own possession. I proved that their machinery and helicopters were no match to me as one by one I took them from the physical realm until, subduing to a shameful defeat, they abandoned the mission. This is when they decided to fence that place up to this day.

Similarly, the Chinhoi caves are sacred and governed by our host. We had separated and consecrated the waters in those places for purity and for the performance of cleansing ceremonies and rainmaking ceremonies. I cannot tell you how we did that and how we intended to achieve our objectives today, but I hope on your second visit we will have time to cover that.”

The voice paused for a moment, giving me a time to ponder a bit on this so-called introduction. A question came to my mind; the why was I here now? The voice did not give me a chance to trouble myself getting the answer.

You are here because with the directive from the High Spirits of this region I have been asked to summon you and use you as a non-spirit medium human to convey an important message and you will have to write everything down then distribute it far and wide. I am the Guardian of righteousness and travellers. You will know my name as time goes by but my title is suitable for this period. Today, I will be telling you about your history- our history back to as far as the world is required to know. Now listen very carefully for you have to relay it as it is:

The creation story you know from the book you call the bible is true and a very exact copy of what aspired. Anyone who doubt its validity in one way or the other is just showing his or her weakness in sight and vision just as you were not able to see me before I instructed you to focus. The God of that creation story is the only true God. We are all his people in every aspect and are supposed to show him respect.  Now, we all understand that if you try to follow the Bible we blacks gradually seem to disappear. Well, that should not surprise you because the Bible is not a book about you or us, it is about Israel who was called Jacob that is why you see that even his brother Esau later called Edom is not mentioned regularly. Don’t be jealousy about that because we decided to keep our history with living beings than writing it down. Now this is part of the history:

After the flood, all our ancestors came from the ark with Noah for they were his sons. It is usually said that after an unfortunate event, Ham who is the father of blacks was cursed and we are inheriting his curse. Well that is actually false because it was his son Canaan who was cursed and he was the father of the Canaanites not of the Africans. We all agree that Ham was our ancestor but not Canaan and it was Canaan who was cursed not Ham. Now Ham had other three sons namely Cush the father of the Ethiopians, Mzraim, the father of the Egyptians and Phut the father of the Libyans and all other Africans including us. We lived in Libya for years but as we multiplied, we decided to move to occupy the whole continent. Also, we were forced to move by the Egyptians who were beginning to build the structures you now call the Pyramids as tombs for their rulers after the failure of Nimrod to build a tower to heaven.

One of the wondrous things that History has failed to record is what happened at the tower of Babel. It is at that tower that the differences in skin came into existence so that people could easily recognise those who speak the same language as them. Even those who did not take part in that construction were affected. The Israelites were black then as you can see that Joseph’s brothers were not able to distinguish him from the Egyptians and Egyptians were not able to distinguish Moses from them. 

After we left the land now called Libya we moved south but avoiding the Ethiopians as much as we could. We came to settle in the area now called Congo which we called Guruuswa. After some time, we heard that the Ethiopian queen called Sheba had gone to meet a wise king from Canaan and returned with a lot of gifts. We were afraid that she may decide to sell us to that king as we had heard that he was doing a lot of construction requiring a lot of manpower. We were divided amongst us for amongst us were those who really wanted to be friends with the Ethiopians. We allowed them to go their way.  They were received with welcoming hands and to preserve them pure, were given their own land which you now call Somalia. This is when I was born. Upon my birth, I was selected to be immortal so as to keep our history. We appointed a man called Chaminuka as our leader and he began to lead us further down south to settle in what was called Tanganyika. After some years of settling in Tanganyika, a tribe of very intelligent people called Varemba who had run away from Canaan joined us. They said they had been selected by their king to be custodians of a box they called the ark of the covenant. We lived together for some years until they decided they were moving on. After their moving from our pack, we decided to split our pack into two. The first half went forward and we waited for about two hundred summers before we decide to follow. By then I was the only living person who had seen the Varemba and those who had gone south before us.

Our leader, Chaminuka, had also died but before he died, had been ordained high priest. His son Kaguvi succeeded him and later on after he sacrificed himself, his wife took over. It was Kaguvi’s daughter called Nehanda who initiated the departure from guruuswa but the first tribal war broke leading to the separation of families and clans. This war got Nehanda killed as she tried to bring peace amongst tribes. As we left Guruuswa, we met a hostile people who vowed to destroy us if we refuse to work as their slaves. It is then that we all cried to our ancestors for help and up rose the first spirit medium. He said he was Chaminuka and in order for him to help us he needed us to unite first. We all agreed to unite. He then pointed at a tree and said that we were not supposed to name that tree or call it by any name as a way of showing respect. Now when the bullies come we would run to that tree, anyone who got into that tree’s shadow or branches would become invisible to the enemies. That tree provided us with everything. You now know it as Muti-usina-zita

As time passed, we decided to resuscitate the idea to move and now with Chaminuka’s guidance. For convenience’s sake, something had to be done to compensate for the unnamed tree since we could not move with it. The Spirit medium instructed us to divide into families and each family head was to prepare a special dish with meat then mix it with a root called Ndudzo and eat it with his family. Now Ndudzo was a special root whose presence could only be detected by sheep as they prepare to sleep. If the sheep sleep on top of it, wolves and hyenas were not able to see the flock. So, after eating Ndudzo with the meat no one was supposed to eat that animal or meat again. That is how totems came to be.

After Guruuswa, we separated routes, and I led the people now called the Manyika who you are descendant to and who were popularly known as the leader’s wise councillors through Mozambique. I was then ordered to rest in this cool Mountain waiting for the right time and uphold righteousness and guide travellers. I reward those who disobey my regulations by removing them from the physical world and I will tell you more as we will be meeting soon. In the meantime, go and tell everyone that they have to reform …”

Just as he was saying these words, I drifted from the think blanket that had enveloped me amidst a great confusion. While I was trying to get things right, my brother pushed grabbed me and asked me where I have been all this long. I asked him how long it had been and he said they had been looking for me for nearly an hour.

Without telling anyone what had happened, we descended from Mt Inyangani

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Simbarashe Mwanaka was born in Inyanga, a small smart town in Manicaland, eastern part of Zimbabwe on the 6th of January 1993 as the only male product of Zebedia Mwanaka and Takesure Marongedza. He attended Shiri Primary School, St Mary Magdalene's High School and St Monicas High School( for advanced level). He is currently doing aero engineering.

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