Sekuru Ndunge passes ba­ton

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - SOCIETY - Tendai Chara

FOR seven un­in­ter­rupted decades, Sekuru Charles Mak­wiyana Ndunge, the doyen of lo­cal tra­di­tional healing and witch­craft prac­tices, has been wav­ing his magic wand to hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple.

His wand has cast spells and di­rected healing pow­ers to peo­ple from as far afield as Europe and Asia.

Famed for al­legedly hav­ing the ex­per­tise to make bank bal­ances grow, curse en­e­mies, treat ter­mi­nal ill­nesses and to win back the love of one’s life, peo­ple from all so­cial, re­li­gious and eco­nomic stand­ing have been mak­ing a bee­line for the tra­di­tional healer’s hill­top res­i­dence in Chipinge.

Re­cently, we drove to Mak­wiyana Vil­lage, which is lo­cated on the bor­der with Mozam­bique and sat down with ar­guably the coun­try’s most pow­er­ful and feared witch­doc­tor.

An in­trigu­ing and com­plex char­ac­ter, Sekuru Ndunge is quite a hand­ful.

Sharp tongued, his vi­cious re­marks of­ten leaves some of his clients up­set and con­fused.

He does not tol­er­ate those that take ages to ex­plain why they would have paid him a visit.

De­spite these un­pleas­ant traits, Sekuru Ndunge can be very pleas­ant and con­sid­er­ate.

A 40-minute chat with the famed tra­di­tional healer re­vealed that like the moon, Sekuru Ndunge has both a dark and bright side. He is hu­man af­ter all. In this trade since 1948, it was clear from the in­ter­view that he is now yearn­ing for a quiet life, far away from “the madding crowd”.

Crav­ing a sim­ple life, it seems he has, in the past cou­ple of years, been metic­u­lously plan­ning for “re­tire­ment”.

In­di­ca­tions on the ground re­veals that he is grad­u­ally pass­ing on the ba­ton to his daugh­ter Ny­erai.

Sekuru Ndunge con­firmed the de­vel­op­ment.

“Oh yes! My daugh­ter is now in the trade. She was here yes­ter­day and at­tended to my sore feet. As you might know, a doc­tor some­times seeks help from other doc­tors,” a beam­ing Sekuru Ndunge said.

He, how­ever, said he will only “hang his boots” af­ter Ny­erai has passed sev­eral cru­cial tests.

“For one to fight witch­craft and evil, that per­son must first master the dark se­crets. In terms of our trade, she is still a tod­dler who is slowly get­ting there.”

“I don’t want to rush her into this, re­mem­ber I have a name and le­gacy to pro­tect,” added Sekuru Ndunge.

Sekuru Ndunge, who does not know his age, clearly has faith in his pro­tégé.

His face glowed when he was asked how he would spend his time in the event that he de­cides to turn his back against cast­ing away evil spir­its.

“I am a grand­fa­ther and will spend most of my time with my grand­chil­dren. By the way, I have lots of them and don’t know them all by name. I re­fer to them by the names of their mothers,” he said.

Pos­si­bly as part of his fall back plan, Sekuru Ndunge also runs a restau­rant, bar, grind­ing mill and a guest house.

He said he owns sev­eral houses in Chipinge.

It was abun­dantly clear that the tra­di­tional healer has a deep long­ing for the past.

Out­side his mod­est house is an un­usual fleet of both vin­tage and mod­ern ve­hi­cles.

Whilst some of the cars are ex­posed to the sun, some of them are, how­ever, neatly tucked in a huge shed.

Sekuru Ndunge owns an es­ti­mated 80 cars, in­clud­ing Chevro­lets, Bent­leys, Mercs and BMWs, among other models.

He re­fused to ad­mit that his place is a junk­yard.

“Do not be fooled by the dust that has gath­ered on the roofs. All these cars are in per­fect con­di­tion. I will, with­out doubt, en­gage my­self in joyrides when I fi­nally have the time,” said the fa­mous witch­doc­tor.

He said he has been so pre-oc­cu­pied with his work to the ex­tent that he has not, in the past 23 years, trav­elled out of his vil­lage.

De­spite the fact that he owns these many cars, he said he was last be­hind the wheel some 20 years ago.

It was abun­dantly clear that the tra­di­tional healer has plans for the cars, with one of his sons tasked with mak­ing sure that he runs the en­gines oc­ca­sion­ally.

He def­i­nitely does not in­tend to use the cars in the af­ter­life.

Apart from the cars, Sekuru Ndunge also has an in­sa­tiable ap­petite for mu­sic.

He is a proud owner of three func­tional gramo­phone record play­ers and he says he oc­ca­sion­ally plays his favourite songs from the de­vices.

Part of his gramo­phone record col­lec­tion in­cludes clas­sics such as Percy Sledge’s “When A Man loves a Woman” and Sting Ray’s “Whole Lotta Fire”, among oth­ers.

Works by Thomas Map­fumo, Safirio “Mukadota” Madzikatire, the Green Ar­rows and Patrick Muk­wamba are also proudly dis­played in the tra­di­tional healer’s well-fur­nished liv­ing room.

“I wish I was younger. Back then we en­joyed life. It was dur­ing the 1940s and I was based in Mutare. Sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­eases were treat­able then and we had lots of girls,” Sekuru Ndunge said with a chuckle.

Meet the pro­tégé Mun­yam­bazi Vil­lage is a small, se­cluded out­post lo­cated on the Zim­babwe/ Mozam­bique bor­der in Chipinge.

This moun­tain­ous area is blessed with rolling ever­green hills, a cool weather and peren­nial rivers.

It is here that we met Ny­erai Jane Mak­wiyana, one of Sekuru Ndunge’s two daugh­ters. She is set to take over the ba­ton from her fa­ther in the event that he passes on.

Ny­erai is an unas­sum­ing char­ac­ter, a woman of few words. She dis­plays no wish for at­ten­tion or ad­mi­ra­tion.

Get­ting an in­ter­view with her proved to be a mam­moth task and were it not for the di­rec­tive from her fa­ther for her to at­tend to our en­quiries, we would have def­i­nitely left her homestead empty-handed.

When The Sun­day Mail So­ci­ety crew ar­rived, we found her sit­ting on a chair un­der a mango tree, with her tools of the trade neatly placed on a chair. A horn and small bay­o­net and beads were among the items.

Her homestead was filled to the brim with peo­ple seek­ing her ser­vices.

“How can I help you?” she bel­lowed as soon as we were di­rected to sit on a bench, fac­ing her.

Af­ter ex­plain­ing our mis­sion, she re­mained tense and some­what un­in­ter­ested.

“I do not trust strangers. I am still un­der the tute­lage of my fa­ther. He for­bade me from di­vulging fam­ily se­crets,” she said.

Af­ter fur­ther prob­ing, she opened up a bit but was too cau­tious and chose her words care­fully.

“Peo­ple come to me with var­i­ous prob­lems. Some will be trou­bled by aveng­ing spir­its whilst oth­ers are bar­ren. What I can say is that more are com­ing,” the 50-year-old said.

She could not be fur­ther drawn into di­vulging much of her work.

“I was sworn into se­crecy and can­not tell you much. The in­creas­ing num­ber of peo­ple that are com­ing here means that they are be­ing helped. I let my work do the talk­ing,” she said, show­ing no signs of re­lent­ing.

On the Mozam­bi­can side of the bor­der, she is com­monly known as “Owen”.

Bas­ing on the num­ber of peo­ple that were at her homestead, “Owen”, like her fa­ther, is set to reach the zenith of this dark craft.

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