Samuel Mujuru

Muchatera Mujuru (right side)
© The University of Chicago Press "The Soul of Mbira"

Dambatsoko, about 4 hours southeast of Harare by car, is the home of the Mujuru family. There is neither electricity nor water service here.

A ceremony is held every year in April and September. The ceremony in September consists of praying for rain. The Mujuru family members living all over Zimbabwe gather in Dambatsoko at this time. It could be compared to the Japanese "obon."

On the first day, relatives greet each other in rotation. Families gather at old ruins of the venerable Mujuru family after the greetings are finished. These ruins are the place where Muchatera Mujuru prayed in hopes of reconciliation with the White settlers. Muchatera Mujuru is the grandfather of Ephat and Samuel. He was the founder of Dambatsoko and had the ability to channel spirits. The ruins at Dambatsoko were destroyed at the time of independence from the U.K. Part of a wall of the building and a few other pieces still remain.

In the early afternoon people take off their shoes and enter the ruins and begin preparing a fire. At first they make a fire with twigs. They bring it close to the big tree trunk which and set the tree on fire. The fire is meant to burn carefuly and slowly and to last a long time. A big lump of this wood will continue burning three days and nights from this time. After this the participants consume the special "Seven Days" liquor. As soon as this liquor is drunk people start playing the mbira. It is a light performance containing the low sounds characteristic of the Dambatsoko tuning.

When it grows dark, three spirit mediums who have lined up beside an mbira player begin chanting. After a few minutes someone enters a trance, as other get very excited and begin dancing. The mbira is continuously played in order to deepen the trance.
Participants begin stomping their feet on the ground and dancing around the fire. One's consciousness seems to dissolve in the sky. The person who wants to dance dances; the person who wants to drink drinks, and the sleepy person sleeps.

The next day people awake on a mat spread among the ruins. Shortly after, a sacrificial ceremony is held. A big cow is led from the ruins to some nearby trees. The cow shows some tension but does not get too excited. Soon someone drives an axe into the neck after patting the cow's head. The amount of blood that flows out is immense, as the body of a cow is very large. The cow's body shakes for a moment and then falls to the ground. And then the dismantling begins and the cow is skinned neatly and carefuly. Stray dogs also appear, hoping for a taste of some meat.
The entrails of the cow mixed with its blood are served as lunch within a few minutes. Almost everything is eaten. After the lunch, another mbira performance begins along with a dance. As people once again enter a trance-like state, spirits calmly enter the participants and the people's bodies begin to shake and have convulsions. People around the circle wrap blankets around those effected for consolation. A person crying out like a bird enters the circle and the ceremony reaches its peak. It is this moment when all is one.

Please click lower "sound button" to Listen a sound of Ceremony !


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