The day spirit mediums descended on Tandi

FROM a distance one could not afford to ignore the sound of the Dandariya drumbeat from beyond the mountains around Lesbury Farm near Rusape in Manicaland Province.

Despite the soaring temperatures that afternoon, the drumbeat was spiced with the clapping of hands while the lead female vocalist’s voice would pierce into one’s ears.

BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA

Upon arriving at the source of the sound, scores of spirit mediums clad in black and white garments drawn from the country’s 10 provinces littered the farm compound while vehicles of all makes were parked outside.

Several groups of traditional dancers milled around waiting for their turn to perform and keep on ‘appeasing the spirits.’
At the entrance to the venue of activities — under the tree at the heart of the Smart’s farm residence — every person, including government officials and journalists were ordered to remove their shoes.

Under the tree, traditional dancers exhibited their dancing skills while the drummers and rattle shakers showed their dexterity on the instruments.

But there was an outstanding figure sitting among the traditional leaders of the land in a verandah.

Tenzi Nehoreka from Mvurwi, the popular spirit medium who appeared to be far away from everything happening around him, sat quietly watching those in the arena. In his hand was a quart of Black Label beer from which he occasionally sipped.

At short intervals Tenzi Nehoreka would take the snuff while his subjects took turns to brief him on the proceedings of the events. It was clear that the spirit medium was running the show as everyone, including the traditional leaders, would bow their heads in his presence.

The cleansing ceremony was meant to welcome Robert Smart and his family who had returned to the farm six months after being violently removed by cleric Trevor Manhanga. Upon his elevation, President Emmerson Mnangagwa facilitated the return of the Smart family who have been productive at the farm since 1930.

According to the villagers and former workers, Manhanga took over the farm because he was the one who ‘prayed for former President Robert Mugabe’.


Manhanga’s coming to the area angered the traditional leaders and spirit mediums who were against his move of erecting a church at the farm.

Lesbury farm has graves belonging to the ancestors of the Moyo clan that constitutes the biggest population in the Tandi area.
“Manhanga defiled this land. He built a church in an area where are our ancestors are. Some of the trees he cut fell on the graves. When the Smart family first came here, they found it difficult to settle until they approached the local traditional leadership who appeased the ancestors on his behalf,” said one of the subjects.

The three-day event was lively. Although there was no traditional beer brewed, some bought the popular Chibuku Super beer to quench thirst. The place was cleansed of evil, the evil that was blamed for causing low rainfall as well as bareness of the land.

One villager Maria Nyamaropa (34) who graced the event said the event was a refreshing one and that it was her first time to see such things happening.

“This is the first time for me to witness such as an event. It is refreshing and given what transpired at the farm last year, we hope normalcy and peace will return to our favour,” she said.

The Smart family donated a beast for the gathering to feast during the cleansing ceremony.

But it was the respect and fear of Tenzi Nehoreka that would charm many. His influence saw him even holding a closed-door meeting with the army personnel who graced the event.

Tenzi Nehoreka is an addicted newspaper reader. After the announcement of the NewsDay journalist’s presence, he stood up before one of his female subjects broke into a song attacking journalists who had previously written a negative story over him.

The story was about his arrest that was caused by former Zanu PF stalwart Didymus Mutasa.

The cleansing ceremony was attended by Chiefs Tandi and Makoni.

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