When Maslyne Dongo of Nyamadzawo Village buried her only son almost two years ago, she thought four–year–old Marlon’s life was now a closed chapter.
Marlon is said to have breathed his last under mysterious circumstances, following a series of nightmares in which he told his parents there were people pursuing him. Dongo accepted that fate, in its random distribution of cards, haddealt them a blow they were too powerless to avoid.
Then she narrated to NewsDay how she got the shock of her life recently when headman Ernest Nyamadzawo approached her. He started from the edges.
“The first time he came, he asked me if I was strong enough to bear tragic news. Although I said yes, he seemed reluctant and then went away,” she recalled.
“The next time he came, he asked if my husband was belligerent, because he feared what he wanted to say would make my husband kill him. But I assured him that he was not temperamental.”
The merry-go-round began with the village head seeming eager to open up his heart and spill out the contents, but there seemed to be a dark force forbidding him. But eventually, he opened the drawers and the skeleton fell out.
“He finally told me that my child was not dead and had become too hot for him to handle,” she said. “I just want them to bring my child back since they have told me that he is alive and is now giving them problems.”
Although Marlon’s grave is located a few metres away from the Chikoroondos’ homestead, it is no longer clear whether or not his “remains” are in that grave indeed. His father, William Chikoroondo, said:
“At the time he died, some elders in the village insisted that it was improper to conduct body viewing. Although we didn’t understand why, we could not question our elders because we are just young people and we don’t know much.”
Marlon’s uncle, Washington Chikoroondo, said it has been established in the village that Headman Nyamadzawo worked with “a committee of witches” in the village, which has now been linked to the deaths of 21 children who have all died in as yet unclear circumstances.
Last week, a meeting where the boy was supposed to have been brought out as promised by Headman Nyamadzawo, turned violent with as many as 800 people who had turned up to witness the “resurrection” demanding the return of all the other children that had died over the years.
According to Nyamadzawo’s relative, Maxwell Nemhara, the headman had to be attended to at a nearby clinic after suffering head and leg injuries in the ensuing fracas. Nemhara revealed the headman’s desire to clean up his mess.
“He has indicated that he wants Muzenda (a prominent herbalist) to come and retrieve the child from the house he is said to be living in now because he can’t do it alone,” he said.
A brother to the boy’s mother, Anselem Zhakata, said the other members of the alleged witchcraft committee have, however, insisted those seeking to temper with the issue should keep their hands off them.
“The others (members of the witchcraft committee) have, however, said they don’t want their homesteads to be tempered with,” he said. “I have come here to support my sister and brother-in-law because I also need my nephew back.”
The headman’s brother, 72–year–old Joseph Muranganwa Nyamadzawo, said he had never seen anything like this saga in all his life.
“I am hearing this kind of thing for the first time in my life,” he said. “He said he did not see the matter being resolved within the family, but we also need to involve some elders who are familiar with these kinds of things and know how they may be resolved.”
He said the saga was likely to affect some relationships as everyone was speaking about the matter, which has now developed into many different versions.
Dongo said what made her believe her child could indeed be alive is that the headman approached her by himself without any coercion.
The headman is said to have expressed his preparedness to make reparations and cleanse his homestead.
Headman Nyamadzawo’s reputation as a successful farmer has spread far and wide in the area. When the NewsDay crew arrived, it established he has already planted his fields ahead of everyone else — including the rainy season — and his crop has already sprouted.
William Chikoroondo said there was strong suspicion in the area the headman’s success could be linked to some occult activities.
A well-known herbalist near Ziko — a popular outing for revellers in Chitungwiza — was approached by some of the family members and confirmed the boy was alive, after which he promised to come and retrieve him.
Although he had promised to “resurrect” the boy last Monday, this did not happen. The child’s father yesterday said the headmen in the area will meet soon and map the way forward.
According to a barmaid at the area, the saga has become common talk at the place, with some cracking jokes out of the matter.