Free, open sex at graveside cleansing ritual?

By Norma Tsopo
MARANGE – Just as the village elders concluded a traditional prayer to the area’s guardian spirits to accept the reburial of over 150 remains at to pave way for diamond mining operations in Marange an elderly woman jumped up stomped around, ululating and shouting the crudest obscenities.
Those alien to the culture thought she was stoned out of her wits.
But just as delegates to the cleansing and acceptance ritual were still digesting the event that had some cringing in shame came the shocker.
The elderly man leading the incantations made the big announcement – ‘Nhasi izuva rekunyengana! Nyenganai! (Today is sexual intercourse day!  Go for it!)
An uneasy silence ensured.
But as legendary Zimbabwean author Dambudzo Marechera would describe such an event – it was like a loud fart that all silently agree did not happen.

A cleansing ritual at Chitangazuva reburial site in Chiadzwa
A cleansing ritual at Chitangazuva reburial site in Chiadzwa

Taken seriously – any two consenting adults would have had it, even openly without any sanctions following the announcement.
The offer however had no takers due mainly to cultural adulteration. But the rituals could not have been completed without such permission for everyone in the village to make it free with everybody else-until the final night being granted.
This Shona culture is highly sexualized.
In the olden days, there certainly could have been a ceremonial orgy and wild sexual romp, noted Matthew Mundondo who is leading the reburial exercise and guiding the rituals.
“Indeed that was an open invitation for people to engage in sex without anyone questioning them – not even husbands would have questioned their wives,” Mundondo said.
While this may appear to present Africans as sexual savages who had no rules around coitus the cultures are generally strict around sexual chastity.
“This is a part of a ritual that while we no longer act on it obviously used to be followed through with action and we have no reason to be ashamed about it when we now measure it against today’s moral and religious standards.
“There is no culture in the world which did not have its own similar or even worse practices,” Mundondo said.
Indeed there is just no country that can claim purity against bizarre sexual practices and rites.
There are still many bizarre traditions alive across the globe although the bulk have gone with the wind. Cultures continue to evolve and to answer to different moral codes and give birth to varied lifestyles.
And sex remains an enigma as it can be a bonding or loving experience, a formality, fun and exciting, or even immoral or illegal. It undoubtedly still makes the world go round.