Dying for one’s land

Veronica Gwaze
THE land occupied by the Doma people in the thick forests of Mbire, Mashonaland Central is fraught with mortal danger – but they will not leave it.

A fortnight ago, seven-year-old Dudzai Chitsuga was trampled to death by an elephant.

While harvesting sorghum, the elephant emerged from a thicket thick and attacked Dudzai. His grandmother, Shorayi Muzukuzuku, survived – albeit with broken ribs and a fractured leg.

Shorayi is at Chitsungo Mission Hospital, awaiting surgery.

Before that, another minor was attacked by what is believed to be the same elephant in Nyagonye village, and is understood to be in critical condition.

Human-wildlife conflict has become “normal” for the Doma people.

Despite that, and despite Government, churches and NGOs attempting to relocate them to safer territory, they refuse to leave the land of their ancestors.

Rinosi Mario says: “This land belongs to our forefathers. We will not move. Right now we believe the ancestors are angry because strangers intruded.”

Doma village’s Councillor Philip Clement says it is difficult to force people to move.

“Initially, they lived randomly very close to the Zambian mountains but as the population grew, they ended up here. It’s a high risk area because of wild animals.

“Authorities suggested the Doma people be relocated to safer areas to avoid animal attacks.

The Doma don’t want to leave the land of their ancestors. We cannot force them to move against their will.

“The Domas are still surviving from hunting and gathering which makes it difficult for them to blend in other societies.

“Being strong believers in their cultural norms and beliefs, the Doma people simply cannot give up their birthright.”

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