By Kelvin Kasiwulaya
It sounds rather rare for me to promenade through the piercing unusual happenings of our society, speaking for the dead might seem rather sacrosanct than secular, but our relatives at Mtapa cemetery are no longer resting in peace.
Our beloved relatives I’m certain are wallowing in faecal matter excreted by fellow men and women of society located at Mtapa Market who have established a permanent vending site for themselves.
One might wonder and ponder as to why vendors have turned so arrogant to the fact that the dead deserve a sense of respect, the cemetery is a repository of all the memories of our loved ones that have passed on.
Common sense will tell you that this peaceful and serene location of rest must be cherished, protected and respected by us the living.
Though not appropriate to say, Mtapa cemetery is a beauty to rove and gallivant especially if you understand the historical narratives found on the Commonwealth war graves located 100 meters beyond the entrance to the left and the Gweru Cremation Memorial, commemorating a single Second World War casualty from the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
Buried at the commonwealth grave commission section are 87 Air force militants among them two of the youngest leading Aircraftmen namely Harry Woodland who died at the age of 23, his grave is located at plot 2 Row B grave 2 of the section and Francis Collin Wright who died on the 27th of May 1921 at the age of 20, his grave is located at Plot 3 Row B Grave 5 at Mtapa cemetery.
Emotions should not be allowed to overcome logic, but those who defecate upon our loved ones buried at Mtapa cemetery should get the condemnation they deserve.
Some vendors are regrettably using the cemetery as a place to relieve themselves and to make illegal deals including drug peddling.
Not having an ablution facility at Mtapa market cannot be an excuse to defile those that have passed on, some of them were vendors, priests, fathers, mothers, daughters, husbands, and wives, who deserve a sense of respect.
As a society we should reconsider our perception of our cemeteries, they have a deep historical connection to the local community and bring us closer to an understanding of the past and help to provide insights into how people within the area used to live.
By looking at the tombstones and reading details about those that have passed, we can gain information on the importance of individuals to the community at the time, and the jobs, social connections they had during their life.
“We as a resident association, condemn all those who have defiled Mtapa cemetery, the Gweru community should respect the dead, we find it disturbing that one can squat and excrete upon the resting place of our loved ones,” said the Zimbabwe National Organization of Associations and Resident Trust ZNOART Midlands Chairperson Reward Mhuri.
Mbuya Filda Ziyambi (74) a Mtapa Resident noted that there was a culture shift and a lot of borrowing from external cultures which were leading to a change in how the graveyard should be respected.
For us the Shona people we consider graves to be sacred because they bear the remains of our ancestors. Graves are treated as religious places and they are at times used as shrines hence they should be respected and can not be defiled, she said.
According to Mbiti (1991 page 149) the Shona pour a libation of beer and tobacco on the grave when inducting the spirit of the deceased to the “land” of the ancestors (Nyikadzimu), just as they do at the Chikuva. For this reason, observing silence at the graveyard/cemetery is an act of deep respect and reverence for the ancestors. Some even believe that failure to maintain silence at the graveyard could result in some misfortune such as drought and epidemics. Silence at sacred places is based on both ancestral reverence and a belief in ancestral vengeance.
Beyond their functional value as an area in which to place people after they’ve passed, cemeteries can act as a place of memorial. They can become the host of ritual events for families and post-funeral events, allowing the family to give their loved one a respectful and dignified burial process at the end of their life.
Cemeteries hold great significance to communities across the country, and it’s important to remember their value throughout our lives. #The Sun