The sacred month of Mbudzi

November is regarded as the month of the goat, a sacred moon when neither marriages nor weddings ceremonies are held.

Traditionally, more goats and plains game wild animals give birth in November than in any other month on the calendar.

In Africa south of the Sahara, wildlife authorities like our own National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority do not allow professional trophy hunting of wild animals in November to allow breeding and spread it to March to allow growth of the newly born.

Therefore, the hunting season is always between March and October.

So there must really be something about this month that even traditional Christian churches observe November as a month of no weddings.

It was last month when Wesley and Rudo (not their real names) got married on a sunny day of October 24.

Wesley paid lobola and partook in  all the traditional requirements, but was told  they could only wed after two years.

According to the Shona culture, Wesley is supposed to then take his wife home to start their new family and during the negotiations they agreed that the new bride will have to go to her husband’s house the following week.

Boom! It was now in November and Wesley had prepared their newly-acquired two bedroomed flat in Eastlea, Harare, and he got a message from Rudo’s aunt that she was no longer coming that week because of their respect and understanding of the Shona culture about the month of November. Now the lovers have to wait for 10 more days to see each other.

November is often known as “Mwedzi we Mbudzi”, or month of the goat because for some reasons it is also the same time when most goats undergoing gestation.

Wilbert Sadomba, in “Using taboos and Proverbs as Oral Archives of Indigenous Knowledge” eloquently describes this month as follows, “Women are regarded with the sanctity of nature because they possess power of regeneration through their fecundity. This is reflected in a number of values, beliefs and taboos.”

November marks the period of regeneration of both flora and fauna following the first rains.

With abundance of food, herbivores of all kinds start to reproduce and November is the peak period for this process of regeneration. This observation led to the development of the taboo that forbids marriage during the month of November.

The taboo was developed to avoid accidental killing of animals during the gestation period. Marrying in November is normally associated with misfortunes like divorce  and failure conceive”.

Well, Wesley who goes to a local Pentecostal church was of different opinion as he views the month as just like any other months. Some locals regard November, a month which in traditional customs of the Shona people is sacred, meaning that no ceremonies are held such as weddings, parties, bira or kurova nguva (ceremonies to appease spirits) among others.

Some Christians are against the sacred month ban of activities, while some traditionalist still respect the sacredness of the month.

A survey by Saturday Herald Lifestyle revealed that the issue of Black November comes with tradition and cultural beliefs.

“November is not a sacred month but is a scary one because on my side that is when most accidents happen, weird things and if you choose to celebrate it you end up having problems in future.

“I remember my brother got married in the month of November eight years ago and they haven’t conceived yet.

“My uncle told me that it is because they got married in November, they did not listen to what we told them,” said 34-year-old Pardon Masawi from Chivhu.

A visit to traditionalist Tichaona Makonyonga’s house in Norton, gives a very different depiction of culture and the sacredness of the month.

He takes a bit of bute (snuff) from his palm,sniffs it, sneezes a bit, before narrating the sacredness of November.

“You see, November in Shona is called Mbudzi (which means goat). It is the month where most goats will be reproducing and goats are used for all traditional ceremonies,” said Makonyonga.

“At all ceremonies, lobola and masungiro included, female goats are slaughtered.”

In this line of thinking, one will be killing more than one goat when they slaughter a female goat, while the foetus will be thrown away, going to waste.

Makonyonga believes the spirits and their mediums need rest and assess prayers and sacrifices during this time of the year, a sentiment echoed by another traditionalist.

Recently, businessman and socialite Genius “Ginimbi” Kadungure met his fate alongside three of his friends while on their way from a party.

A close source revealed that the death of the four was mysterious and the funerals would have some troubles.

“Now it is 13 days after the accident but  Mitchelle Amuli (Moana) and the other two Limumba Karim from Malawi and a Mozambican model Alisha Adams are yet to be buried.

Some people conduct lobola ceremonies and wedding parties despite November being a sacred month

“I am not saying that they should not have died in November, but my beliefs concerning the month itself and partying have caused more problems for them,” she said.

Precious Mangundu of Helensvale, a private Science tutor said she does not believe in all the things said about November.

“I got married in November, my third born got married in November. I have been married for 13 years.

“In fact, next week I am planning our anniversary party and have invited some of my family members.

“It is only those in the rural areas who said we can’t travel in November and this is not stopping my plans. I do what I like and believe. We are actually going to braai goat meat,” she said

Carling Meats director Carl Magwaza said business has boosted during this month as they have been invited to help host barbecues.

“Apart from companies, families are holding ‘get togethers’ because of the lockdown restrictions that were lifted as they are tired of loneliness. Now we are booked four to five times a day at various   venues.

“They want our meat. I am a Christian and I don’t believe in all that hence I am continuing to work,” he said.

However, some regard November as a secret month, when some traditional rituals are conducted in secrecy.

Besides the month ends before it ends.

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