By Tendai Kamba
I HEREBY write to beg and urge you to do the right thing and ban outright the evil, vile, barbaric acts committed by men at all levels in your sect who have molested, raped and abused girls as young as 13 under the so-called “Will of God”. The recent death of a 14-year-old married girl at your church, like countless other victims brought memories of how I and my family have suffered from the sexual atrocities that you have unleashed in our communities.
Let me tell you the story of my beloved cousin Jane and her girls, victims of your practices.
I grew up with my cousin Jane and we were of the same age. She was very polite, considerate, funny, always laughing with an infectious smile. In the late 1990s, she fell in love with a young man in Redcliff, and she eloped to him. Her nightmares started when her husband decided to join your church at Tongogara in Shurugwi arguing that he wanted to prosper and be set free from evil spirits. My cousin was blessed with four girls and a boy. Soon after the husband joined your church, he married three other girls, all of whom had barely finished primary school. When my cousin’s first born daughter was barely 14, she was taken from school and forced to marry an old man from your church who already had three other wives. Jane endured once more, although it was painful for her.
Not long after that, her 13-year-old daughter was forced to marry another old man with many wives from your church. Not long after being forced on an old man, she fell pregnant. She died together with her unborn child at one of your shrines in Tongogara. The death of her little angel broke my cousin Jane’s heart. She immediately developed severe depression, which affected her heart and other organs. Her health started to deteriorate drastically. This did not stop your church from gifting her third beloved little angel girl to another man in your church in his late twenties.
As my cousin’s health deteriorated further, she was taken to one of your shrines. I pleaded that I be allowed to take her for medical attention at a Bulawayo hospital, but once again the matriarch in your church refused. As she breathed her last, she clutched her hands on to her heavily pregnant 14-year-old daughter, wondering what would happen to her. The last words that she uttered were of the desire to see her youngest eight-year-old girl, with a sense of fear of the certain fate that is likely to befall her in three years’ time. The glare in her eyes betrayed a sense of despair knowing fully well that she would not be there to give her little angel the assurance to endure the nightmare of being married off to an elder in the Johane Marange sect.
When Jane breathed her last, she became yet another statistic among the countless victims of abuse in your church. She was young and full of life. The day she died, a part of me died with her as well. Jane and my little nieces are victims of the abuse at the hands of the patriarch in your church. It is not the doing of God that it turned out this way. It should not have happened, and it should not be allowed to continue. I beg your church to see reason, leave the girls who haven’t developed into mature women to be like kids again, let them play with dolls like any other kid in this world. I beg you to save my cousin Jane’s last little angel. If you decide not to do so, I hope the government can step in and protect these girls, the true angels of our motherland from predators, and stop this nightmare haunting countless families throughout the length and breadth of our country.
- Tendai Kamba is a social commentator and writes in a personal capacity