Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s marriage to Locadia Karimatsenga Tembo has been branded uncultural and taboo by traditionalists who believe marriages, traditional rituals and ceremonies should not be conducted in the “sacred” month of November.
Tsvangirai, who lost his first wife, Susan, in a tragic car accident in June 2009, forked out $36 000 to marry the businesswoman at the Tembo family home in Christon Bank, 20km outside Harare, on Monday this week.
Ironically, most senior MDC-T members were unaware of the private ceremony and only got to know about it in the Press yesterday.
November is known in Shona as Mbudzi, which marks the period of regeneration of both flora and fauna following the first rains.
Traditionally, it is forbidden to conduct marriage and other rituals during the month among the Shona, Ndebele and other local tribes.
The traditionalists said the Premier could be inviting bad luck upon himself and his family by marrying in November, while others called for him to be punished according to traditional customs.
Chief Chivero of Mhondoro said Tsvangirai should be dragged to the traditional courts.
“We consider this as a dark sin in our culture and the Prime Minister together with the in-laws who opened their hands for lobola should be brought before the traditional courts to answer for their actions,” said Chief Chivero.
Failure to do so, the chief said, Tsvangirai’s children with the new wife would be cursed and would face many difficulties in life. Another traditional leader, Chief Mtekedza of Chivhu, said he was shocked by the Premier’s decision to marry during this month.
“In our Shona culture what the Prime Minister has done is considered taboo. These practices (of not having ceremonies in November) must be followed by everyone because they result in penalties,” Chief Mtekedza said.
“Such practices have also contributed to severe droughts in the country and are also a factor in failure to have children.”
Chief Mtekedza equated marrying in November to incest, which is frowned upon by traditionalists and is believed to cause catastrophes such as drought and other natural disasters.
A Christian denomination leader, Pastor Agrippa Chitsinde of the Apostolic Faith Church, however, said there was nothing wrong in anyone getting married in November.
“God does not say it’s illegal to marry this month. It’s purely based on human culture. In the Word of God there is no such prohibition,” Chitsinde said.
Bulawayo-based historian and social commentator Phathisa Nyathi said in African tradition, November was associated with the New Year, which, in turn, was associated with the onset of the rainy season.
He said in Shona, November can easily be linked to Njelele Shrine in Matabeleland South (a place where rain-making rituals are performed) which is closed in November.
“By November, Njelele will be closed and there won’t be any beating of drums because people don’t want to compete with God.
It is believed God’s drum is thunder and at this time He will be beating his drum.”
Nyathi, however, said spiritually there was nothing wrong with marrying in November, and doing so had no consequences although from a “functional cultural point of view” it was unacceptable.
He said one of the major reasons why rituals were banned in November was to allow people to concentrate on farming without disturbances, but this was no longer relevant because many people no longer survived on farming.
Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers’ Association (Zinatha) president Gordon Chavunduka nevertheless said there was no problem with marrying in November.
“People no longer consider it taboo to marry in November, and they no longer take this seriously like the yesteryears. It’s just a Shona taboo, but there are no after effects or punishment at all,” the Zinatha leader added.
Tsvangirai’s advisor, Ian Makone, was non-committal: “I was married a long time ago and I did not marry in November. Ask the person who married in November.”