|Zim, Moza brew ‘njemani war’|
|Saturday, 12 May 2012 17:06|
After getting wind of an alleged bitter land dispute involving Mozambicans and their Zimbabwean counterparts near the border areas along the Gonarezhou National Park, The Sunday Mail In-Depth, in its quest to dig deeper, decided to undertook the gruesome 900km journey.
Apart from the fatigue related to the long trip, the crew had to contend with a bad road network, threats from active landmines and wild animals along the Limpopo Valley.
Our destination was Chief Sengwe’s area and, after getting vague directions to this remote area, we soon found ourselves lost in the maze of the vast Chiredzi sugarcane plantations.
Since we did not have a road map and there was not even a single soul in sight to ask for directions, we wandered, for close to an hour, in the plantation's criss-crossing roads.
It was the crossing of the river into Chilonga Village that marked the beginning of a real-life nightmare.
Across the Limpopo is the Kruger National Park and adjacent to the large animal reserve is our own Gonarezhou National Park.
The most surprising thing about the land dispute is that it is not being fuelled by the need for farming land. The dispute is not about the plentiful game species either.
From the palm tree, the villagers from both countries make a popular alcoholic brew known as njemani.
“For the past two years, Mozambicans have been encroaching onto our land as they seek the murara tree. The problem emanates from the fact that the border perimeter is made up of wooden poles. The wooden perimeter fence has since fallen down and the Mozambicans are taking advantage of that fact to encroach onto our land. The Government must do something before the situation turns ugly,” Chief Sengwe said.
Although no reports of clashes over land have been reported, Chief Sengwe said that the dispute must be solved once and for all to avoid future skirmishes.
“One villager from Mozambique approached me and asked for permission to draw njemani from the murara trees that are in my fields. That same immigrant is now claiming title to the land. Something must be done before we take the law into our own hands,” Chauke said.
the boundaries are. We have been living happily with our Zimbabwean neighbours since the days of our forefathers,” said Muzumani Chauke, who interestingly shares the same surname with a number of people from the Zimbabwean side.
But what makes the murara tree and njemani brew such important elements of the people living along this border area?
After a hard day’s work in the fields, local men will, later in the afternoon, converge and drink the illicit brew which costs US$1 for two litres.
A white, frothing liquid drips from the stem-cutting via the leaf which acts as a funnel. The collected liquid is then put into large containers and left for a day or two to mature.
A number of “bush breweries” and “beerhalls” are dotted alongside the border and outlying areas.
Added another drinker: “We prefer njemani to other alcoholic beverages. This beer is good for one’s health since it is natural and does not have such damaging alcoholic agents as yeast. This is a gift from our gods.”
The tree is the source of a clear, sparkling, thirst-drenching alcoholic brew that the Shangani-speaking people living along the Zimbabwe-Mozambican border call their “royal brew.”