Tatoos are slowly becoming the in-thing in Zimbabwe.
A weekend at an entertainment or public place hardly passes without seeing somebody with a tattoo, especially amongst the womenfolk. The inking ranges from shoulders, necks to waists.atoos are slowly becoming the in-thing in Zimbabwe.
Some of the common ones are the tramp stamp done just below the back of a woman’s waist, the heart shape which can be anywhere, star designs and verses from the Bible.
Tattooing is quite painful, and requires great personal strength to get through the procedure.
Are the inkings and piercings symbolic?
Brenda Maraure, an artist based in Harare says: “Tattoos, be it in an African or Western culture, represent something.”
She feels that there is something attached to tattoos. In some circles, tattoos are said to be evil and connected to the underworld.
“I wouldn’t get one, it’s important for citizens or members of the public to know what they are getting into and the consequences,” Ms Maraure said.
However, people have their own concerns about tattoos which they sometimes portray as demonic, primitive, satanic, promiscuous, romantic or fun.
Others say, tattoos were used to mark significant moments in one’s life.
This could be the birth of a child, the death of a loved one or anything else that had left a permanent mark on one’s consciousness or changed the course of their life.
For Zimbabweans, modern tattoos are slowly creeping into their culture. The church, however, is strongly against the growing custom.
Grace Gospel Ministries presiding bishop, Peter Maocha, says it is unfortunate that many Zimbabweans still have a habit of emulating what they see from other cultures on television.
He noted that tattoos are demonic adding that they are a symbol of the satanic covenant between Satan and man.
“These tattoos are very dangerous and should be stopped at all costs. I have seen people who have repented from this demonic act but sadly tattoos are permanent and cannot be erased and many that regret their actions end up living with regrets,” Bishop Maocha said.
Furthermore, Pastor Edward Shonhiwa of the Guta RaJehovha called for collective commitment among stakeholders such as the church, civic leaders, teachers and individuals in advocating against the rising trend.
“I would not advise people to have tattoos because tattoos in their form are creepy and mostly represent the satanic kingdom. When people do that, they automatically get under the influence of the devil and they become wild and even weird at times,” he said.
While some African cultures use tattooing as a way of injecting traditional herbs in their sick relatives (kutema nyora) others just do it for self-belief and honour to people who have been influential to them in one way or the other.
An example is Bob Marley whose image has become one of the most popular tattoos.
Others argue that tattoos are nothing more than a cultural practice that exists in almost every other culture around the world, while others are of the view that it is just a way of having fun with their skins.
Rudo Jasiri shared her sentiments on the idea of getting a tattoo.
“The first things that someone should think of before getting a tattoo is the meaning behind them. The problem is that people don’t like reading, hence do things without knowledge,” she said.
For Stephen Ngorima, it is a different scenario, his “African continent” shaped tattoo he scarred on his forehead when in primary school is stuck with him for the rest of his life.
“It was painful but after it healed I thought I was the main man. I don’t know what to do with it now. I am in my late 30s and still enduring a torrid time with this,’ he said.
He adds that the inking does not fascinate him or anyone anymore.
So why get a tattoo?
Beauty, decoration or the influence of popular culture are the main reasons people get tattoos.
Regrettably, Zimbabweans have westernised their tattoos without any regard to their meanings.
A traditionalist says in the past tattooing was a way of showing tribal, ethnic and family loyalty.
When boys become men, they might take on a scar to show their inner strength.
“A tattoo makes you look like a sex worker and has a lot of superstition behind it, I can’t have one and would never allow my children to have one,” said Sekuru Malimu Phiri, a herbalist in Harare.
Some people believe in the presence of spirits around them, both good and evil. But there are questions that need to be answered before someone decides to use tattoos.
Will the scars fit in with the rest of your life?
Will your employer have a problem with your body art if it shows outside of your work clothes? Will your wife, husband, girlfriend or boyfriend find the scars as attractive as you do?
And according to Leviticus 19 vs 28, God prohibits cutting and tattooing of one’s body.
“Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord,” says the scripture (New International Version).
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