Talking to Munhumutema’s Mhuri yeZimbabwe: Part two


THIS week I am in Girona, not far from Barcelona, the centre of Catalan nationalism.
At the market place, in bars and restaurants the feeling and pride of Cataluña independence is palpable. When I left home, at my watering hole, others loudly worried at the prospect of Barca and Messi being booted out of La Liga should the referendum go for Cataluña independence.
Before leaving for Girona I had been to Murehwa with a business colleague of Welsh ancestry but as English as they come in manner and disposition.
He is very proud of his recent Cotswold origins.
Worried at his cultural illiteracy and disdain for local customs and manners I softly proposed to him and his kith and kin, cultural literacy holidays in Unyetu.
He declined; “No thanks, I had enough of culture in Uganda early this year”.
That response, locating culture as African, for me, confirmed Munhumutema’s view that Hunhu is what distinguishes Africans from other peoples and to some extent people from other animals.
In the former hunhu gives us a unique family identity as Africans, starting with the homestead (mana) to musha (village) to dunhu (ward) to dzinza (clan/tribe) to nyika (country/kingdom).
As children we are brought up associating and interacting with hunhu at these various levels under the supervision of our parents.
Much the same way I grew up understanding I am a hungwe in the surroundings of my vazukuru; sinyoro sabhuku Chimhuka, sinyoro sadunhu Ranga and sinyoro Ishe Neshangwe.
These are cross-cultural relationships that would not make sense to my Welsh English aristocrat friend.
According to Munhumutema there are two types of hunhu in this world; njake njake yorumwe rumwe and hunhu hwemhuri.
In the former we see primacy of individual competitiveness and selfishness favoured in the West and in the latter we see supremacy of family values as practised in Africa.
The Western njake njake, dog eat dog competitiveness is what Munhumutema calls humunhu husina hunhu, human beings without humanity (or is it humanity without hunhu?). It is a decadence that results in its proponents sinking to low depths of selling land and people, the untouchables of hunhu hwedu. This is how njake njake destabilised Africa and the world through slavery and colonialism.
Slavery sold Africans and colonialism sold land, matenga nyika.
Quite some exciting argument from Munhumutema though I am left wondering about where to locate Arab slave trade in this.
The African hunhu hwemhuri concept allows us to have traceable ancestry as vanhu vemadzinza with totems who respect the sanctity of procreation.
This contrasts markedly the njake njake Western gay and lesbian agenda. On the flight here I sat next to a Zimbabwean young woman going to Germany.
To be naughty I spoke to her in my best Shona and she was surprisingly and pleasantly okay with it. I then asked her totem and she answered “moyo, chirandu, mamoyo chaiye!”
That is as it should be, all of us being ambassadors of madzinza edu, hunhu hwedu. So as a continent where have we got it wrong if not at this young woman’s level?
The adage a fish rots from the head perhaps holds true.
According to Munhumutema countries are ruled according to the culture and language of the rulers, nyika dzinotongwa netsika nemutauro wevatongi.
He laments the African exception to this. In Africa we rule through the language and traditions of our erstwhile former colonisers.
Take for example our obsession with English, Christianity, tea, winter robes, jacket and tie. Instead of having a typically Zimbabwean family “mhuri yevana Vashe, mhuri isina Zishe Guru, mhuri isina Varanda, mhuri isina Rumaniko, mhuri isina kubva mupfumo” we have become a British Zimbabwean family of haves and have-nots.
Munhumutema also powerfully observes and locates hunhu hwedu as grounded and located in the village, kumusha.
Pasina musha hapana mhuri. Hunhu hwemumamisha hunotipa mhuri. This reminds me of how my late father used to chide us against getting culture astray, “musaite zvechibhoni rukisheni!”
He did not want us to behave as children of African locations/ghettos. We had to remember we came from the village, Unyetu.
Later in life he would plead with us, usually without success, to have our important family functions eg weddings, Christmas and graduation parties in the village ‘pamusha’.
Munhumutema shows us that musha is more than a physical construct, the homesteads. It is about diverse cultural and social relationships; age groups, relationships, gender, artisans, granaries, livestock, the total family.
Unlike in the urban setting where existence is possible without grannies, parents, aunties, siblings, children, nephews and nieces.
I do not know the totems of my neighbours. I wait for death before I can set foot on their yards. In Unyetu I interact with Sinyoros, Samaitas, Moyondizvo, Murehwa, and Nyakudirwas on a daily basis. In them I have children, fathers, mothers, wives, vazukuru and anasekuru.
In the village I am taught what Munhumutema calls “kugarisana namamwe madzinza – kugara hunzwana”, peaceful coexistence.
Lastly Munhumutema locates Zimbabwean leadership (hushe/humambo) in our history and ancestry, madzinza. He argues that leadership in this country must be totem based, chemhuri yeZimbabwe ndechemadzinza, chemadzinza ndechemhuri yeZimbabwe.
He also makes a useful distinction between Mambo and Ishe. Mambo is the highest form of traditional authority within a country and Ishe is the leader of a dzinza under Mambo. Our Local government administrators need this wise counsel from Munhumutema.
In terms of the leadership structure below Mambo we have Chiefs, madzishe who over-see headmen, masadunhu who in turn control village heads, masabhuku/samusha.
Humambo or hushe rotates within the original houses that established that authority. Today most of this has been turned upside down as many search for material reward from central government that comes with that position.
In parts of the country we have seen village heads masamusha upgrading themselves to chiefs in a manner that insults huMangwende of my maternal uncles.
Above Mambo we only have his masvikiro, spirit mediums and mhondoro dzenyika, territorial spirits. Above the Mhondoro we have Makombwe enyika kumaDzimbabwe who know miko yepasi, cultural underpinnings, with regards to healing, wildlife, rain and war.
Clearly Munhumutema is preaching of yester year. In Zimbabwe of today Mambo or Ishe is now most likely a pentecoast, akatendeuka akarasa miko yepasi.
t.n. munhumutema, Mhuri ye Zimbabwe, Zwi re Mhuri, Harare, 2013, 210pages, ISBN 978-0-7974-5471-2.


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