Thursday, July 30, 2009

Zimbabweans say angry ancestors are behind road accidents

The state of the roads in Zimbabwe are awful - this is an interesting article which shows how superstitious people can be appeared in the Los Angeles Times - belief in the old gods is very open in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabweans say angry ancestors are behind road accidents

Traditional rituals to appease the dead have not been performed for years. Some believe that's the cause for a recent string of terrible crashes on one highway.
By Robyn Dixon May 23, 2009
Reporting from Chivhu, Zimbabwe — The road is scarred with skid marks, some curved like snakes, others pencil straight. They shriek the fates of unlucky travelers who lost their lives; they mark the near-misses.
It's not just the treacherous potholes, or the edges of the road nibbled away like cookies. It's not the dozing driver behind the glaring truck headlights about to veer onto the wrong side.

People here in central Zimbabwe are afraid of something else.
The pedestrians crossing the road at night, dressed in black, walking so slowly that drivers are forced to swerve -- ghostly figures not made of skin and bone. And the mermaid in the Pimbi River, angry at the blood and gasoline spilled when a bus crashed into the water two years ago.
For a long time, things have not been right anywhere in this beautiful but tortured country. The economy has collapsed; there's been conflict, hatred, repression. But many believe this country's long, grinding crisis is just a symptom of something deeper: The ancestors are angry.
Some people here trace today's road disasters back to the blood spilled in 1890, on the arrival of white colonialist Cecil Rhodes, who founded the diamond company De Beers and settled Zimbabwe. Rhodesia, the colonial name for Zimbabwe and Zambia, was named after him.
Under Rhodes, an invading pioneer column set up camp near what is now the highway, and the colonialists called the place Fort Charter. Local people believe that many blacks were thrown into a burning pit by the foreigners.
When bad things happen in Zimbabwe, an uneasy suspicion arises. In times past, communities religiously attended to rituals, slaughtering cattle to keep the ancestors happy. But in the last 10 or 15 years, many communities have neglected the rituals.
Zimbabwean traditional beliefs are as real for most Christians in rural areas as they are for those cleaving solely to African religions. Many urban dwellers are the same, including top members of President Robert Mugabe's Cabinet.
For some, traditional beliefs permeate every aspect of life: politics, business, family, illness, prosperity and fate. They also bring a measure of daily fear: Demons can sicken or curse you. Enemies with powerful muti, or magic, can strike you with a lightning bolt if challenged. Droughts, famines, locust plagues and wildfires happen when ancestors are upset or God is displeased.

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