The Sunday Mail
I was tucking into more than a fair portion of roasted T-bone steak and steamed veggies at a colleague’s house when I tried to sprinkle some salt on the delectable meal in order to enrichen and enliven my palate.
I, however, heard an unusually rattling sound from the salt shaker.
Curiosity got the better of me and I opened the salt shaker, only to discover a smooth pebble tucked inside.
It explained the reason why the salt couldn’t come out in any meaningful quantities.
Shocked by the discovery, I quickly closed the salt shaker and asked my host’s wife for permission to take away the meat on the pretext that I had been asked to return to work immediately as there was an urgent matter to be attended to.
“Takurai zvenyu nyama yenyu babamukuru (You may carry the meat with you as you have requested,” the host’s wife said while wearing a broad smile after I had flattered her with words of praise for being the “prettiest woman in the world with exquisite culinary skills”.
The moment I bade the couple farewell, I made sure I threw the meat at the nearest rubbish dump for the benefit of the earliest stray dog.
I swore never to eat at people’s homes again.
It was not a mistake that a pebble could be found in a salt shaker.
It was actually a tell-tale sign that this couple relied on seers, the visionaries or people with the spirits of divination who had given them the pebble — commonly known as “muteuro” or “nhombo” — to either enhance their luck or ward off evil spirits.
On that fateful day, the discovery was way above my tolerance threshold and I could not continue tucking into the prepared meal.
There is something about members of the apostolic faith that makes the lion in most people roar.
Everywhere you go, in both rich and deprived communities, you are sure to meet hordes of people who rely on members of the apostolic faith (mapositori) to the point of failing to make a decision without consulting them.
“Kana ukaita chii zvacho pasirino pasina mweya hachifambe (You must never do anything under the sun without consulting the spirit),” you hear people of various shapes, sizes and academic backgrounds saying.
The prevailing harsh economic challenges have not made the situation any better.
It is difficult to attend a funeral nowadays and not find close relatives of the deceased huddled in a corner, planning to visit a nearby apostolic sect’s shrine to consult on the best way forward.
If you happen to take a bath at a funeral, make sure you use your own lotion or petroleum jelly, because the moment you borrow from someone, you risk being given something mixed with lucky charms. Proposing love to some women is akin to opening yourself to scrutiny. Th ey will take your photographs to the nearest apostolic shrine for vetting. You will never get a positive response until the church leader gives the love interest the all-clear on issues like your marital status, family history, temperament or information on whether or not you are the right person to fall in love with them. Th e church leaders are also intelligent people. Th ey make sure their processes take long to wring cash from their clients during the waiting period. If a church leader is craving for a salty chew and milk, he simply tells clients to bring a whole chicken and milk for prayers. Aft er the prayers, they will help themselves to the meat. If you dare ask what happened to the chicken, you are told: “Haungadyi chinhu chawarapwa nacho (you may not eat meat from a bird used to cure you.”
People seeking employment also think consulting a prophet somehow brightens their prospects. Th ese are the kind of people who wake up early in the morning to sit at the shrine waiting for big sharks that frequent the place and press them for a job. Some prophets also lure people to their shrines by promising them jobs. An apostolic sect shrine is like a supermarket — there is everything for everyone. A woman seeking a man will be promised one, while one who is having challenges with their partner is promised a healthy and stable home. It is not uncommon to fi nd thieves and those who have fallen to the same thieves at
the same apostolic shrine. But how does one start going to the shrine ceaselessly? “It’s so easy my brother. You are beaten once by your husband and rush there when he leaves for work and the cycle begins there. Once you start going kumasowe you will always fi nd something that suits you and you keep on going there. People live on hope and this is what happens,” a colleague confi ded in me. She said consulting prophets and prophetesses was part and parcel of life in the ghetto. “You can give your wife all she wants, like a house, car, cash, food and children, but these things are never enough. She needs to know hidden things like witches and who
to trust. She also needs to know if you have extramarital aff airs and this results in her going kumasowe frequently,” she unashamedly continued. My own investigations, dear reader, showed that while women go to the apostolic shrines to inquire about their marriages, men seeking jobs and those trying to cover up their court cases and disciplinary proceedings at workplaces are oft en regulars. Some men visit masowe to shop around for beautiful women and girls. Others do so to eavesdrop on the juicy prophecies, which are always made publicly. If you hear there has been an accident in Norton while you live in Braeside, please do not ignore it. You may fi nd your wife among the victims as she would be on her way to make consultations. Stories on who are the powerful prophets always dominate everyday discussions at churches, workplaces, family gatherings and in kombis. No one wants people to know they consult prophets, but this is what people are doing. And this is why back-to-sender prophets are in vogue nowadays. Inotambika mughetto.