Reclaiming our spiritual independence


IN previous episodes of this discussion, we have argued that Africans are well connected to Musikavanhu, the Creator through their ancestral lineage.
We are linked through our parents, our grandparents, our grand-grandparents and so on back all the way to the first ancestor created by Musikavanhu/uMdali.
Our parents and possibly grandparents might yet be still alive, but beyond them our lineage is through the spirits of our forefathers.
The Bible says, “Respect your father and mother so that your days may be long.”
This is a clear instruction that we should respect our elders and our ancestors who are now in the spirit world.
This connection to our ancestral lineage defines our spirituality as Africans.
Those who refuse to accept or are induced by Western churches to deny their African spirituality are defying Musiki, God.
God is a spirit; he created man and woman in his own image by moulding clay and breathing his spirit into the clay to become a human being.
When the man dies, the flesh goes to dust and the spirit returns to Musikavanhu.
All Africans were created by God as were all other races too.
So the Africans have a spiritual link to the Creator.
They are the spiritual children of Musikavanhu, connected by blood and by spirit directly to God.
Nobody has a right to claim that the Africans are a lost people who need to be rescued and brought back to God!
We Africans know God, always have and always will.
Even King Leopold of Belgium advised missionaries going to Africa: “Do not go to teach the Africans about God; they know and worships Him already.”
The white man figured that if the Africans could be induced to abandon, disown and despise their culture and ancestral spirits who connect them to the source of power, Musikavanhu/God, they would become powerless to resist the takeover of the country and its resources.
This is the reason why so many missionaries were deployed in Zimbabwe and around Africa to preach against African spirituality, against African religious rituals, and to break the links between Africans and their Musikavanhu, God.
The spirit of Murenga our Great Ancestor, speaking from a rock at Njelele (Matojeni) Shrine in the Matombo Hills, ordered the people to fight the white invaders.
The whites immediately sent soldiers who killed the shrine’s Curator.
As the uprising spread north to Mashonaland, the Great Ancestral Spirits of Kaguvi, Nehanda, Mukwati and others took up Murenga’s call and rallied the people to fight the invaders.
Again the whites hunted down the spirit mediums of Kaguvi and Nehanda among others, and hanged them.
In all cases the spirit mediums who connected the people to Musikavanhu, were killed to prevent them from drawing spiritual and mystic power from Musikavanhu/God.
The white invaders clearly recognised the power of the ancestral spirits.
They still do.
That is why the Western Christian churches continue up today to preach against African spirituality and religion to prevent Africans from drawing spiritual power from their ancestral spirits and Musikavanhu/God.
Now let us turn to our discussion on ‘shavi’ spirits and their role in our lives. We have previously discussed ‘shavi’ spirits that have healing powers.
We mentioned the ‘njuzu/nzuzu’ spirits that are said to dwell in water and the ‘mapfeni’ or baboon spirits.
All of them possess people and may or may not speak through their medium. Their knowledge of medicines is legendary.
Most Africans, especially those raised in rural settings will know a few or many medicines derived from plants and animals.
The knowledge is acquired either through learning from parents, elders or neighbours or from ‘mashavi’.
Healers who derive their healing powers from ‘mashavi’ may or may not become possessed.
In some cases, healing and dispensing of medicines is done by the spirit when it possesses the medium.
In other cases, the medium is not possessed, but conducts all the healing processes.
Most people who have healing ‘shavi’ spirits are shown the medicines and given instructions on how they are to be administered in dreams, while fully awake or when possessed.
In the case of herbal medicines, the plant features including leaf and flower colour and shape and the smell are all communicated to the medium.
The medium then goes out into the veld to identify and collect the medicine as instructed by the spirit.
Most healers who are referred to as n’angas are mediums of healing ‘shavi’ spirits.
In many instances, the spirits only reveal the identity of a medicine when there is an illness in the family or when a sick person presents for consultation.
While the healer often keeps stocks of commonly demanded medicines, in some cases s/he may need to travel to another place to locate the required medicine. In some cases the ‘shavi’ spirit will need to be called to then identify the medicinal plant.
There are some healers who have learned the trade and are not under ‘shavi’ healing spirit influence.
Such persons will charge commercial rates for their medicines.
In the traditional non-commercial set-up, the n’anga will prescribe and supply the medicines.
The patient will be allowed to go and only pay for services after being satisfied that the treatment has worked.
Fake medical practitioners now abound especially in urban areas.
The advice is to avoid those healers for whom there are no oral references from others who have been assisted.
Western Christian churches condemn all these healing practices as primitive and ungodly.
But one can argue that all knowledge that saves lives and comes from Musikavanhu cannot be dismissed as the work of the devil.
Our white colonisers and their church denominations have always demonised African medicine men.
A ‘n’anga’ is considered an evil person with demonic powers, to be avoided at all costs.
This wrong image has been drilled into the minds of both children and adults, especially those under the influence of Western church denominations.
Among Africans and since time immemorial, n’angas have always been the genuine African medical doctors, who look after the health needs of their communities.
They have special skills conferred on them by their ‘shavi’ spirits.
Many become possessed by ‘midzimu’ or ‘mashavi’ spirits who have the power to diagnose and treat different diseases.
The n’angas are able to cure various disease and to cast away evil spirits and to cleanse people and property of bad luck and other ills.
The status of n’angas in African society rivals that of Western medical doctors. The white colonisers dubbed ‘witch doctors’ to tarnish their image and cast doubt on their professional integrity.
This the same strategy whites used against our ancestral spirits whose divine mystic powers they feared.
We have witches in society who are recognised as such.
A witch is someone who carries out evil practices to harm others.
Calling African doctors ‘witches’ is part of the same campaign to demonise African spirituality.
Africans must reject the practice as it lowers the esteem of our African doctors.
Today younger generations of Africans brought up under the biased influence of Western churches and institutions refuse the services of the n’angas under the pretext that they are evil.
The Western medicine they accept has the same chemistry as the African medicine from our own doctors.
The negative attitudes towards African doctors and their medicines has prevented many from accessing superior medicines suited to most ailments common among our communities.
It is encouraging though, to note that many Western-trained African doctors now recognise the efficacy of African medicines and refer patients to go ‘kuchivanhu’.
The struggle for spiritual emancipation continues unabated!


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