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She is named Chirisa, my grandmother! Born over 100 years ago, she is often referred to as “The Queen of the Village”-like the queen of bees, for being the only mother who gave birth to 23 children, and still lives to tell old time stories. With little signs of daunting disorientation that comes with the grace of aging, she often dabbles to cohere her modern fast paced whereabouts with what she refers to as her graceful moment of youth life. She still entertains her grand and great grandchildren with jokes gathering them under her favorite tree shade where she often retreats from subtropical temperate hot zone. Morning sunshine and outdoor fresh air close to her favorite tree shade is her regular classroom where she shares stories and entertains everyone who stops by.

Being born over 100 years means a living document for the village where no written scripts or manuscripts about the communities’ journey in life exists. She shares undocumented stories, as there was no one to document, about the famines, war, tribal conflicts and all the good and the bad times living along the edges of Bultum Jungle Mountain. Talking to her makes one feels a sort of time traveler imagining what it looked like when the society stood on its own with no government to look after them; no farming, but fully depended on hunters/gatherers; no doctors or hospital to relief the sick; no court or prison house to judge and/or punish the convict; no idea that people of different color also exist in the other part of the world sharing the same sun.

She tells how the community used herbal medicines to cure the sick, village elders to punish the convict, and strong bond to hold tight through heavy famine and tribal conflicts. The saddest stories she still reserves to engage in a discussion is the evil spirit she refers to as the darkest being responsible for the loss of many animals to sacrifice and the death of her many children. As the long time friend of animals, she has strong attachment to livestock, and still does not want to discuss or remember the bloods of those animals sprinkled across the stones of the riverbank as part of ritual services. Every year or during bad season, they used to slain sacrificial ram or a caw and sprinkle its blood at the special reserved sacrificial site  at the river to make the spirit happy.

Grandma mentions tyranny, fear of death or loss of a child if they did not do what the spirit had impressed them to. For the brain tuned to the logic of science, unarguably, this seems a fictional ghost story and may not raise any bar for the slightest glimpse of belief, but both as a man of science and someone born and raised in the village with firsthand witness as to what happened in the village during ritual services, there is undeniable fact about the prevalence of undefined being which could be an evil spirit as the non believers called it, or unidentified alien being. Christians generally categorized as bad spirit, but spirit believers called locally it “Jaarii” that as they believed would bring rain, protect them from disease or shelter them from unforeseen tragedies.

Every time a baby stallion, calf or ram with unique color was born during particular season of the year, that animal was reserved as “Spirit’s”, and was never touched, sold, stolen or slain to use for meat. It was reserved only as a sacrificial offering during annual ritual services. When the ritual services were conducted, followers could walked on fire bare footed jumping, singing, shaking and completely in trance. What impressed me the most was what followed next. The rest of the animals in the barn reserved for the following year’s annual services shacked the same way the followers did. That hit me and shook off the disbelief that I myself used to carry on as a fictional ghost story. That ritual services and the belief came to an end when grandpa died in 1990’s and grandma became christian.

Spirit related sacrificial services were accountable for the slain of hundreds of animals every year until villagers eventually turned to Christianity. Now, most followers such as grandpa and many others died, the rest became Christians with enough story to share, and the spooky episode in the woods of the villagers is gone when the ritual services stopped.

Now, as of 2015, Chirisa lives under the care of her grand and great grandchildren sharing her stories but still strongly despising modern life, especially city congestion.

By Gahambo 
Chirisa’s Grandson

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