Relevance of ‘kugova nhumbi’

AFRICANS share diverse religious views but they always converge on some rituals especially those related to burials.

One such is the sharing of the deceased clothes – referred to in Shona as “kugova nhumbi”.

However, some sections of the society are questioning if the rite is still important. Traditionalists insist that kugova nhumbi must be done a day after burial and the act should not be abandoned.

Christians think otherwise.

Heaven Family Covenant Ministries International founder Bishop Pride Mabhonga said sharing of a deceased’s clothes had no spiritual significance since there is no relationship between the living and the dead.

“It’s irrelevant; it’s one of those rituals with no bearing. Even if someone refuses to accept a deceased person’s shirt or dress, nothing will happen. There is no bad omen,” he said.

“After burial, a simple prayer is enough.”

Bethsaida Apostolic Church’s Pastor Enos Mtengwa argued that in apostolicism, if one rejects the token, a bad omen follows.

“A dead person’s possession is something that holds a deeper meaning. Rejecting the clothes may anger the ancestors. A day after burial, a close relative sprinkle holy water on the clothes to cast away any evil spirits that may haunt the living,” he said.

“We also use the holy water to ensure that the spirit of the dead person doesn’t linger around his house.”

Traditionalist Sekuru Friday Chisanyu said in African tradition, prior to distributing a deceased’s possessions, concoctions are supposed to be sprinkled.

“Back then, the distribution exercise was done after a month but now it’s just after a day. Things are changing although the bottom line is that the rituals are still being done.

“The morning after a memorial service, the clothes are laid on a huge straw-mat where herbs are sprinkled in case someone could have cast evil spirits during the waiting period,” he said.

Mbuya Calista Magorimbo, explained that a nephew or niece of a deceased person should share the departed’s clothes.

“While morally is it not right for one to deny whatever they are given, they are also free to give it away.”

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