By Ngoni Shumba
Moral aptitude and kindness did not come with Christianity in Africa. The continent was not as savage as some would want to believe.
Even if the story of the Derema people, who are claimed to have lived at the foot of Chinyakwaremba Mountain in the Vumba, is not yet proven to be historical fact, their story attest to Africans’ appreciation of ethical living.
It’s a story that is on all four with the biblical tale of Sodom and Gomorrah.
These people are famed to have lived a rich and peaceful life until a cruel and corrupt king came to power. The village descended into debauchery.
Legend has it that during one of the village’s depraved parties, an old man approached the village asking for food and shelter but was denied any kindness.
A girl called Mbiga however pitied him and gave him a pot of maize meal and a jug of beer.
The old man thanked the girl for her hospitality but warned her to flee the village by sunset as he was going to curse the village for its evil.
Like the biblical Lot, she tried to warn the villagers of the impeding destruction of the village but was laughed off.
She could only save herself.
Watching from a distance legend has it that she could only watch from a distance the silhouette of the old man raising his stuff and hitting the mountain resulting in half the mountain crushing down in a massive land slide to bury the village below.
Mbiga is said to have resolved henceforth to live a righteous life at one with nature and was sought from miles around as a wise woman and soothsayer.
It is on the strewn rocks that the Castle at Leopard Rock was built and Chinyakwaremba Mountain’s steep cliff gives credence to the legend of Mbiga.
And the lessons that kindness is rewarded while sin is punished has been a lesson the mountain has been communicating to locals and visitors for centuries.