Kurova guva: Vital African ritual

August is an important month.

It is the month when Zimbabweans remember fallen heroes who perished during the liberation struggle.

The month is also important for the Shona people as it is the time for rituals such as kurova guva, magadziro or kuchenura.

Kurova guva is done six months to two years after burial.

This religious practice has its origins in Shona people’s traditional beliefs.

The ritual is performed for the departed spirit to be brought home, so it does not wander around.

It is believed the spirit of the deceased will be homeless because it is neither in the world of the ancestors nor a member of the community of the living.

This homelessness causes restless.

If the rituals are not done on time, the dead person, it is claimed, becomes a ghost or ‘chipoko’ which torments the family.

Sekuru Friday Chisanu says kurova guva is a practice that should be done by every African regardless of their religious beliefs.

“As Africans, we believe that there is a relationship between the living and the dead. Therefore, if someone dies, they should be reunited with their families.

“Kurova guva is usually done in August by the Shona people. The ritual is not just meant for the dead, but even for the living. It is believed that close relatives of the deceased can be haunted if the ceremony is not done. This shows that it’s an important aspect of our African lives.”

However, Christians believe kurova guva is satanic.

Early Christian missionaries preached against kurova guva, saying it was a sin against God.

Taking part in the ceremonies was understood to be participation in ancestral worshipping.

Although most Christians abandoned the practice, some still perform the rituals.

In the 1950s-60s, the Catholic Association banned kurova guva.

However with time, the Catholic Church decided to relax the ban on the practice.

Nyaradzo, which is a memorial service to celebrate the life of the departed, was then ushered in as a way of accommodating African rituals as well integrating Christianity.

Some theologians suggest that Christians adopted the concept of ‘nyaradzo’ in the 1970s as Africans converted to Christianity.

Sekuru Friday Chisanu added, “There are two types of nyaradzos – one that accommodates the Christian family when they are considering ‘kugova nhumbi’ and this one is usually done during the day.

“Then there is nyaradzo for the African traditional society which is usually done during the night.”

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  • sarah Mahoka

    This article looks incomplete.What is the difference between the two nyardzos? Surely its not just the time is it?