9 February 2018

Zimbabwe: Chigwedere Family in Didactic Drama

Photo: The Herald
Former Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere (file photo).

Well, Aeneas Chigwedere is a man who wears many hats and indeed for this man, his could be the curse of the proverbial animal with a famous name, but will never fill the basket when caught by a hunter.

"After all... ", sighs the panting hunter, "this animal is too small in stature and not worth the trouble!"

To many, Chigwedere is a known politician, educationist, traditionalist, a headman, historian and father. Yes, a father! I repeat father because only two days ago, we heard he was a father of 40, if his son Mangwiza is saying the truth.

Many will remember Chigwedere as Headman Mubaiwa of Hwedza. Others will remember him as a former headmaster of Goromonzi High School. Many will, again, remember him as former Governor of Mashonaland East and subsequently former Minister of Education, Sport and Culture. This villager remembers him as a writer of history. I will not talk about the uniform, uniforms for all schools, for, this is trivia.

But it is the life Chigwedere has lived in the past few years with his children and siblings where he is writing the story of his life. It is a melodramatic narrative, based on a big explosive traditional family, where accusations and counter-accusations of dabbling in witchcraft are destroying the fabric that should be holding the family together.

As expected, the centre cannot hold. The lilt of it is that things have fallen apart in the Chigwedere family, but for professional reasons, this villager, the son of peasant, will avoid issues that invite litigation.

Back in the village, in the land of milk, honey and dust, do elders with cotton tuft hair not say the more a monkey climbs up a tree the more it exposes its genitals?

The wheels went off his family several years ago with a public spat between him and his son and siblings, reaching high cadence and crescendo. Allegations of dabbling in witchcraft, fraudulent ascendancy to power as headman, have spilled into the courts, up to the highest court in the land, the Constitutional Court.

The past reached a climax last Monday, with Chigwedere appealing to the courts to compel his son Mangwiza to accept going for paternity test. Mangwiza is a grown up man, who claims to be one of Chigwedere's 40 children. Mangwiza contends that of the 40 children only four are in good books with their father.

"Since birth of the respondent (Mangwiza), I have been having doubts about his paternity, my suspicions being based on the fact that the respondent's mother had not been faithful.

"However, I assumed the rights and responsibilities of parenthood over him with the intention of resolving this issue of paternity through cultural means, something, which I regrettably delayed doing.

"Respondent, however, throughout part of his childhood and adulthood, has been acting out in a way that brought up the question of whether or not he really is my biological child.

"I have been subjected to emotional stress raised by frivolous and vexatious allegations of witchcraft against myself by the respondent. These allegations have now spilled into the courts and the matter is currently pending in the Constitutional Court (Concourt)."

Chigwedere and Mangwiza have been in a protracted wrangle for years after Mangwiza accused his father of bringing an abomination to the clan through bizarre rituals and witchcraft.

In November 2017, at least five members from Chigwedere's close family approached the Concourt urging it to compel Chigwedere to undergo an exorcism ceremony by the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers' Association with a view to cast out alleged goblins tormenting their families.

But the court refused to be part of it, leaving the family members to square off again. There is no doubt that this is not the way to run a family and that when all is said and done, the lesson is that the big family has been tearing itself into tatters.

Chigwedere built a name for himself as an author, a historian, an educationist and politician. But this is no laughing matter; it could happen to any man. Family values are critical for the sustenance of any family. It is critical to learn from the Chigwederes that it is easy to destroy a family and a big name, too. Never go to bed with an itching behind, you wake up with stinking fingers. Karitundundu weeee!


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