This piece was written by a man from Zimbabwe who is not able to join Bubblews on his own account, for technical and personal reasons. However, I am happy to post his work on his behalf and will send him any proceeds they raise by other means.
The hot sun burned the barren land. Birds of the air, crawling insects, domestic animals, let alone the villagers, longed for relief from the skies. Today I was in my father’s homestead. I had just prepared the thick porridge (sadza in Shona vernacular), when I heard a voice calling: “We enter your homestead … we enter your homestead”. Suddenly there he was inside the kitchen hut in his heavy black coat. His hair was rusty brown and uncombed. Strangely, he wore no shoes. Beneath the fading brown trousers emerged bare pale feet that held menacing long and sharp blackish toenails. He clapped his hands respectfully in the traditional Shona way as he greeted us.
But what shocked me was the sudden change in the look of my father’s eyes. A minute ago they had been bright and full of life as he shared jokes but now they turned red. “You pass him the dish, and hand him my sadza”, he said pushing his plate towards him. He turned to the man and asked: “It’s so hot outside, will the Gods give us rain?” But his question went unanswered. There was a long spell of silence, save only for the click clack coming from our mouths as we devoured the meal in silence.
Muchenje was his name, which is a reference to termites that can nibble a big log until it falls apart. Not long after he bid us farewell, he crouched down as he approached the gate. “Hey you - what are you doing there?” My father’s voice was firm and full of authority. “Leave my gate and be gone!!” - he was now threatening him. “Sorry, I was just picking up my fallen snuff bottle”, he replied. Soon he was gone.
Back in the kitchen hut my father’s neck was flowing with sweat. “Did you see it, huhn, did you see it?” - he gestured at me and my cousin with questioning glances. “Ah!! Ah!! Ah!! You young boys have no eyes”, he continued. “Now let me tell you, that man had nothing underneath his black coat, nothing, completely nothing. He is the village sorcerer who I know has bewitched ten people whose graves I have seen dug”, he said shaking his head.
So this was the village sorcerer I had heard of. Outside it was still hot - I tried to strain my eyes to see him but he had gone and was now out of sight. I walked back into the hut to take refuge from the scorching African heat-wave hoping to hear more details about this evil man.
Picture credit (actually a photo of a Shona witch-doctor rather than a sorcerer): Hans Hillewaert. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence.