The Sunday Mail
Mysterious happenings at Chimoio shrine are not a new phenomenon. Almost every year there are reports that strange things take place at the shrine, which was built as a commemoration to the thousands of innocent lives lost during the November 1977 attack by the Rhodesian forces.
As recently as a fortnight ago, the flags at the shrine were found lying on the ground. Interestingly, when Augusto Maritimo and Francisco Ferinando retired for the night, the three flags (two Zimbabwean and one Mozambican) were flying at full mast.
The two cousins are the caretakers of the shrine.
The senior caretaker, Augusto, did what he has always done on the several occasions when such strange things happened at the shrine: he knelt down and pleaded with the departed souls to be at peace.
The other strange happening has been the opening of the main gate to the shrine. Usually at the close of business everyday, the main gate is closed and secured, though not locked. But come morning, the gates will be ajar.
These are not the first reported cases of strange happenings at the shrine. Previously it has been reported that blood oozed out of the mass graves, especially the one nearest to the museum. It has also been reported that the same grave “rises and falls,” usually an indicator of the political temperature in Zimbabwe.
As recently as last year, the grave nearest to the museum is reported to have oozed blood.
Though Augusto was not at the shrine on our recent visit, on the previous visit two years ago he said they could tell the political mood in Zimbabwe through that grave.
“Its rising and falling usually tells us that something is not going well in Zimbabwe. When there is some political upheaval, there is movement on the grave,” he said.
In 2015 Maritimo said when the shrine was completed, the norm was to take the three flags at the shrine down at the end of the day and raise them again on the morrow.
“But once you took the flags home, you were assured of a restless night, you wouldn’t even sleep. There would be movements in and around your room, and even outside, though you wouldn’t be seeing any person.
“We then advised the consulate that we were not going to be taking the flags down. And that’s why today you see there are no flags, the lifespan of the flags has been shortened because they are not removed overnight. We have been advised that a new set of flags will be coming soon.”
But the shrine has since been given new flags, which the caretakers recently found lying on the ground.
The grave which is known to rise and fall, the one that at times oozes blood, has some bees for security. Some of the bees live in the big tree next to the museum.
Whilst it is an open secret that spirit mediums played a critical role in the country’s war of liberation, the same spirits seem to be keeping a close eye on the shrine, maybe through the bees. Anyone who passes unpleasant comments about the shrine receives instant justice from the bees.
Though the singing has since stopped, previously it was said that on different nights, “people” — usually dressed in white — would sing and play drums at the shrine.
The caretakers then said there were times when they would hear people singing at night, typical of the “pungwe” sessions that were common during the liberation struggle. But on closer inspection of where the singing would be coming from, nothing could be seen or heard.
Adriano’s farmhouse, which was turned into the commander’s office by Zanla forces at Chimoio, was bombed during the 1977 attack, and is being rebuilt into a world-class museum. The museum has relics such as drums that were used for cooking food, old rifles and other items picked up in and around the camp.
In previous years, there were times when the sound of gunfire would come from within the museum, usually at night. Interestingly, come the following morning, there would be not a single sign of the “fierce battle” that would have raged the previous night.
The strange happenings, however, seem not to have deterred the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe, which is revamping the shrine, with the entrance getting a facelift.