Madzemwa, the n’anga of maize seed

Isdore Guvamombe Reflections
Back in the village, in the land of milk, honey and dust or Guruve, the October afternoon sun was angry and unforgiving. It spat blistering hot rays down the land.

Cicadas clung precariously on tree buck, praying in merciful melodies to God and the ancestors for soothing rains. Villagers sat under hut attics for a cooling shed. Dogs panted under the shed. Hens crackled while livestock spent time on the riverine vegetation, for the sprouting lush greens. Boys spent their time shooting birds with catapults or slings. Others trapped birds with the sticky paste. Boys also went swimming in the few remaining pools on Dande River. Women washed clothes and bathed on selected spots.

Dande River provided the much needed lifesaving liquid, for, all its tributaries had run dry. The village was alive to its fate. Winter drinking binges had slowed down as villagers prepared for the summer cropping season. The experienced elders had started casting their eyes both in the sky and on the ground in search of signs of early rains.

Karitundundu, the ageless village autochthon of wisdom and knowledge, had predicted early rains. Villagers really trusted the oracle. The rain-making ceremony had been done and gone and the ancestors and God, had answered positively. As the afternoon proceeded an easterly wind started blowing. Conscious of the time factor, boys started collecting their cattle and goats for tethering and closing up at night.

A dark cloud formed fast and, suddenly lightning stabbed the air, followed by an ominous rumbling. Everyone realised the rainy season had come. Cattle hooves pounded the ground as the boys drove them to the kraals at high speed in an impish attempt to beat the rains. But the heavy rains spattered, beating both the cattle and the boys silly. Soon they were both drenched.

Many villagers were used to planting maize from seed selected from the previous harvest. But one man, Madzemwa, boasted that this time he would use tested seed. His was Seed Co. Whatever that was, the villagers were not worried. After all they planted from the seed they selected from their granary and still harvested.

Within a week, the village was a hive of activity with each villager planting as the rains continued to fall intermittently. Soon the crops germinated and crops started showing differences. Madzemwa’s crops grew healthy and faster of course with similar applications of cow dung manure, like other villagers. As days turned into weeks and weeks into months, the village was agog with the tale of a n’anga whom Madzemwa had approached and used in his fields. The healer was Seed Co.

Others claimed that Madzemwa had been given a goblin that stole maize from other villagers’ fields. They alleged that at night, Seed Co stole maize from other fields and transplanted it into Madzemwa’s field. He had the best maize across the villages. Madzemwa battled to explain his maize, until the whole village trooped to the occult to consult and also witch-hunt. The Karitundundu, the occult authority, explained that Madzemwa had bought seed from the shops in yonder Harare and that he had not dabbled in witchcraft. The following year, villagers changed and stampeded for the new seed variety.

The full input of this instalment and the fecundity of it is that farmers need to prepare for a good season and need to buy the right seed. Gone are the days when people still thought of witchcraft in farming. Farming is an art. It is business. My village has favoured Seed Co seed ever since this story unfolded. It is a true farming story and indeed as the 2017/18 farming season arrives, let us all plan properly for the right seed. The right fertiliser and indeed the right herbicides. Back in the village, planning is a harbinger for farming. Seed houses are not n’angas. Let us plan and avoid being caught unawares. Farming is business. It is not witchcraft. Seed selection is important.

Pin It