Baya tackles tsikamutandas
WATCHING the play, Witch Hunters, one is reminded about the thin line between the role of tsikamutandas, Christian beliefs and the laws of Zimbabwe.
The play written by Raisedon Baya was showcased at the Bulawayo Theatre. Tsikamutandas (Witch Hunters) are a grouping of people who go around rural areas claiming that they can cleanse villages of evil spirits and find witches in the process.
It’s all about a poor old woman who stands accused of bringing misfortune, drought, barrenness and death in an imaginary village.
The play opens with a scene in the courts where the trio of tsikamutandas stand accused of extortion, kidnapping and attempted murder.
This is the problem that most courts in Zimbabwe face as there are hordes of people going around villages terrorising people all in the name of cleansing them of perceived evil spirits.
They always target the weak, vulnerable and gullible villagers to dispossess them of their livestock and other assets.
This is the story that is carried in the play. The weakest and easiest to blame is the old woman Gogo, who is 94 years old, (played by Agnes Ncube).
All her children are out of the country and she has the biggest compound in the village.
One of the tsikamutandas, Mjaji, (played Dalton Ngubeni) is married and he and his wife, Feli, have been trying to have children for years with no luck. He has the biggest bone to chew with the old lady.
He lays the blame for their failure to bear children solely on the old lady.
The play gives the audience a glimpse of how much influence these self-confessed witch hunters have on the villagers around the country.
One is reminded of a story in B-Metro where a tsikamutanda in Gokwe, one Kudakwashe Mushonga, was bitten by a snake and later died after a cleansing ceremony that went wrong.
The cleansing ceremony was being held at village head Mafuriranwa’s homestead in Gokwe.
This tsikamutanda’s services were sought by the village head Mafuriranwa claiming that his family was being tormented by some mystical creatures.
Their hold and influence is so deep that even a community leader, a village head, enlists their services.
What more the ordinary villager?
After recalling this incident and watching the play one wonders whether these people really have the powers that they claim to possess.
Could all these people called tsikamutandas be mere con artistes? What gives them the power and influence that makes people believe in them?
Clearly, the tsikamutandas believe that they are above the law.
In the play this characteristic is highlighted as a brazen act whereby these fellows leading a lynch mob, in their quest to burn the old lady, throw any semblance of law out of the window.
They do not think about the consequences of their behaviour, something that some stories carried in the media have shown.
One story that comes to mind is one that took place in Gweru whereby a tsikamutanda from there hogged the limelight after he stormed the magistrates’ courts in the city in a bid to kill two magistrates and an interpreter.
The whole play, has an enjoyable story line but one blemish is the double roles played by some characters such as the tsikamutanda’s wife Feli (Agnes Ncube) who also plays the role of the old lady Gogo.
She changes roles and costumes right in front of the audience.
This is something that disrupts the flow of the play and loses some of the audience.
Some enlightened members of the public who understand this type of theatre said that it was not a mistake or fumbling but part of theatre arts.
They say people should know that they are acting. #Chronicle