Ancestral Spirits/ Vadzimu
I know right 😂but before you get your knickers in a bind, indulge me and keep an open mind. Right?
The only religion that can fully claim to have originated in Africa is that of ancestral worship. The majority of the Shona people have a dual belief system (though they will vehemently deny) where Christianity exists hand in glove with beliefs that ancestral spirits are supernatural protectors. It is a conflicting blend of monotheism and veneration of ancestors. Shona people believe in the creator, Mwari or Musikavanhu and that ancestral spirits serve as intermediaries between Mwari and the people.
When a grown person dies, it is believed that his spirit wanders about, homeless. When surviving relatives ‘welcome back’ the spirit through kurova guva then he or she becomes a legitimate ancestral spirit known as mudzimu/idlozi. If one passes on without having had any children, he or she cannot become an ancestral spirit as there will be no direct descendants to serve as a medium. Such people become wandering spirits known as mashavi.
Just like in life, ancestral spirits have a hierarchy and top of the list, we have Mhondoro, who are the spirits of kings and clan leaders like chiefs. Their main role is to watch over an entire region or clan and they are referred to as varidzi vemasango/dwellers and owners of the forests.
The “people” we know as Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi were mediums (I will explain further) of very powerful Mhondoros. Mbuya Nehanda was quoted saying ‘mapfupa angu achamuka’ meaning my bones will live again and this speaks of a future reference though it remains to be seen whether the medium will be from our generation.
All these spirits communicate with us through mediums called svikiro remudzimu. Each medium can be ‘possessed’ by one or many spirits depending on their skills and expertise. A spirit can be a sage, for wisdom, rebuking and guidance; a healer or an avenger. I hope you are still with me hey.
Their main role is to protect the living from various mishaps e.g. accidents, illnesses, malice from jealous friends and relatives alike or other calamities. Depending on how they were in life, some ancestral spirits are evidently more powerful than others. While Christianity rejects the concept of vadzimu, how does one explain the relevance of the sayings which make reference to ancestral protection?
- Mudzimu wadambura mbereko – to mean that ancestors have severed ties with one whether as a form of rebuking or they were not sought for help and took the back seat
- Mudzimu warwa umire – to mean that the ancestors have fought in your corner and you overcame
- Mudzimu ndiringe – to ask the ancestors to guide you through whatever you want are embarking on because of potential dangers lurking
There is that strong belief that we are protected from misfortunes when ancestors intercede on our behalf. I marvel at how South Africans seem to readily consult the ancestral spirits whereas we live in a community where it’s taboo and labelled as demonic and even satanic. The few programs being aired on TV border on hyperbole that one does not fully appreciate the procedures and protocol of ancestral worship.
Artists like Jah Prayzah, Winky D and Andy Muridzo make reference to ancestral worship in their songs and while many might just enjoy the rhythm and beat, I appreciate the message that we should embrace the religion which is truly ours. To believe or not to believe is entirely a personal choice….
My Inspiration for this post if you will ❤️
Till tomorrow, kisses and thunderclaps.