The Herald newspaper reported on 21 January 2016 that chiefs in the immediate environs of Lake Kariba, concerned with the receding shoreline, dwindling fish harvests and an apparent drought, decided to appease the spirits by holding a bira (rainmaking ceremony) in the suburb of Nyamhunga, Kariba. The host of the ceremony was chief Nyamhunga. In attendance, besides government officials and locals were chiefs, Nebiri, Mudzimu, Matau, Nematombo, Mola, Dandawa and Negande. Read the full story by following this link: www.herald.co.zw/drought-chiefs-hold-bira-to-appease-spirits/.
Without delving into the merits of such ceremonies, it has been noted that the rains started pounding down a week after the rites were performed and as promised by svikiros. The role of religion and tradition in challenging times has always been a contentious issue with both sides willing to go to great lengths to espouse the virtues and efficacy of their beliefs. Tradition, in most instances, incorporates a set of religious beliefs that do not exactly tally with the mainstream Christian and Islamic beliefs, although it is centred on one omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent higher Being (Nyadenga or Mwari).
Lake Kariba itself has seen a slight positive movement in water levels from local rainfall, as expected. It remains to be seen if the trend continues.
By Laiton Kandawire.