Patrick Chitumba Midlands Bureau Chief
“There is a stranger in my homestead and I don’t want her. She must leave at once or I will kill Urayayi. The person I want in my homestead is the daughter to my brother, Linda. She must be married to Urayayi,” shrieks a young woman in the middle of a rainy night, somewhere in Chief Njelele’s area in Gokwe.
The young woman, Acknet, is in a trance and has been on the rampage, scattering kitchen utensils and property.
When possessed, she threatens death and destruction should the family fail to meet her demands. Acknet is one of the two daughters of Mr Farai Urayayi (46), who lives near Gokwe Centre.
Following the death of his first wife, Mr Urayayi married Spiwe Mpofu. It has been seven years since the death of his first wife Linda and two years after Mr Urayayi brought Spiwe into his life.
But strange things are happening.
The late Linda, through her daughter, is “demanding” that Spiwe leaves the homestead and that an 18-year-old virgin should take her place. The virgin, Judith, is the daughter of the late Linda’s brother, Honest Dube.
The occurrence in Njelele has left the community baffled.
Mr Urayayi is HIV-positive, while his wife died of Aids-related illness, making the proposition to have the young woman take her aunt’s place tricky.
There is agreement that the trance Acknet falls into and the voice that speaks making the weird demands are genuine.
Acknet’s sister, also named Linda, is in no doubt that it is her mother speaking. “From 2011 when my father started dating and subsequently remarried, my mother’s spirit disapproved of the union.
“We visited prophets and traditional healers who said it was the spirit of our late mother (Linda) that made my sister fall into a trance. We believe my mother’s spirit wants my father to marry her relative called Judith.
“My mother’s spirit threatened to kill my father if he doesn’t marry Judith. We do not want to anger the spirit and we don’t want our father to die. So I just don’t know what to do. We are in a quandary.”
Mr Urayayi has since asked Spiwe to leave to pave the way for Judith.
He said while he appreciated that he was HIV-positive and that the young girl wasn’t, he feared for his life and would do anything to preserve it.
“My wife died in 2010 and in 2015 we performed the traditional rituals for my late wife and her relatives gave me the green light to remarry. I paid one cow for taking a new wife into the homestead until this January. So it’s very tricky for me because I don’t want to die. I won’t force Judith to come, but if she comes I will do what the spirit is ordering me to do.”
Mr Urayayi said each time he tries to reach out to Spiwe, strange things happen and he passes out.
“I no longer communicate with my new wife because if I attempt to do so, something happens and my children will tell me afterwards that ‘I had died’. So it’s very scary, a situation I don’t want to be in and therefore the need for me to allow the spirit to lead.”
Spiwe, who has returned to her family, is not throwing in the towel.
She said she was going to fight for her husband.
Spiwe dismissed the so-called spirit as a creation of Mr Urayayi’s relatives.
“When Acknet threw away my things, I approached the chief for guidance and he said he would call in a Tsikamutanda, traditional healers and prophets to put the matter to rest. Chief Njelele and I are of the view that some relatives of the late Judith are being mischievous.
“I have told my husband that we can build a new homestead, but he is refusing saying that he will be guided by the spirit.
“My husband and I are both living positively and we have been like this for years and it would be unfair for this child to be married to him because she can be infected.
“So I’m calling on people who can assist us solve this matter as a matter of urgency before something bad happens to this innocent child,” she said.
The late Linda’s brother, Mr Honest Dube (47), is livid.
Sitting under a tree at his homestead, the father of four is puzzled that the spirit of a dead person is reportedly coming through her daughter.
“What is happening is not to be believed and I don’t care about what they do at Urayayi’s homestead. What I don’t want to hear is the mentioning of my daughter’s name. That’s a big NO,” roared Mr Dube.
“I don’t want her to go and get married to Urayayi. She is still a virgin and how can she get married to a 46-year-old HIV-positive man? Let him look for another wife if his children are not happy with their step mother.
“After all, my daughter is young and has a bright life ahead of her. I have taken her to my relative in Harare because I don’t want her near these evil people. Who doesn’t know that Urayayi is positive? I can’t have my daughter entering into a doomed marriage.”
Chief Njelele said he was not going to watch while the life of a girl child is destroyed.
He said he had summoned the Urayayi family and his erstwhile in-laws to his court to stop the proposed marriage.
“We have a situation where a spirit of a late woman is coming through her daughter demanding that her father marries a young girl. The girl is about 18 and the man she is supposed to marry is 46-years-old and HIV-positive. We are not saying that people living with HIV are not supposed to marry no. But there should be consent and in this case there is no consent. So I have summoned these people before my court next week to put an end to this,” he said.
He said Culture should not be used to undermine human rights adding that Linda had every reason to be protected from such situations.
“If there is someone who is being mischievous for personal glory or gain- we will bring him to book. We will even involve the police so that someone is arrested,” said Chief Njelele.