Hungry in the land of plenty Part 2 of 4 – The story of Mahenye

Tonje Sifelani

Beliefs, rites and sacred places
Despite that some religions such as United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe (UCCZ), Zion, Jekenishen and Methodist being in existence in Mahenye, traditional belief is still rife. Just like any society, Mahenye has got its own sacred places, traditional practices and rites and beliefs.

Polygamy is not frowned upon Tsonga/Xangani culture.

Mahenye has got places regarded as sacred and guided by regulations passed from generations such as Chivilila Falls that is along the might Save River. It produces a growling and hissing sound that can be heard in the village, seven kilometers away.


People can sometimes see mist on a very clear day and rules are that one must never throw stones into the falls lest will face the full wrath of the river gods.

Another place highly regarded and revered is the Manengeni Mountain that is traditionally used for rainmaking ceremonies. If one happens to pass through at night, s/he can see people playing traditional Muxongoyo dance.

Lastly, Bhanyule Forest is place where past and present chiefs are buried. People are not allowed to fetch firewood from the forest and if one does, word has it that some women had their eyes nearly plucked by some tree twigs.

Even if traditional initiation ceremonies of khomba for females and nghoma for males which graduation a child into adulthood are no longer popular among the youth, the practice is still alive.

If a person dies, people are not supposed to cry or even sing. The body is wrapped in a mat, gets covered by a cloth and cement is not to be used in building the grave. After burying a deceased one, mourners are given food upon returning from the grave.

The burial of a chief is different from a commoner. The hosi is only buried by ‘ntunkulu” (nephews).

There is a belief that a person who has committed adultery, if s/he happens to meet an elephant, s/he must confess the sin to avoid being trampled by the jumbo. Also, elephants do not like breastfeeding mothers or those on menstrual period.

Elephants have photographic memory, once in conflict with you, if you meet them six years later, the elephants still remember and the fight starts all over. They have keen sense of smell such that one should avoid windward side. If attacked, remove loud colour.

To be continued…

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