Traditional chiefs in Zvimba are demanding that the late former President Robert Mugabe be buried according to tradition as he was a non-practising chief.
Numerous reports suggested that it was Mugabe’s wish to be buried at his rural village while the government has pushed for his remains to be buried at the National Heroes Acre in the capital Harare.
A mausoleum is currently being built at the Heroes Acre for Mugabe’s burial after his family gave in to government pressure. It is expected to take at least 30 days to complete and will cost millions of dollars to construct.
A Zvimba chief, Raphael Zvikaramba, told AFP that they have so far accepted the government’s proposal regarding Mugabe’s burial, though he did not give details.
Dominic Matibiri, Mugabe’s nephew, told AFP that chiefs are buried in caves and the burial is secretly conducted at night.
A Zimbabwean traditional healer, Benjamin Burombo Jnr, outlined how chiefs in Zimbabwe are, or rather, used to be buried. He said:
When a chief such as Mugabe dies, he is not a person that can be buried at Heroes Acre, that is forbidden. He should be buried in a cave.
Mugabe was not just a president, but he was the embodiment of the spirit of Kaguvi.
Burombo added that when a chief died, his body would be dried, his teeth extracted and the fingernails and toenails ripped off. Moreover, the chief’s body would then be wrapped in skin hides before burial, and could even be swapped with a token such as a goat’s head to be buried instead.
A former University of Zimbabwe sociology lecturer, Claude Mararike told AFP that the traditional rites in the burial of chiefs were abandoned a long time ago.
He added that there could be a lot of anger among the Zvimba people over the manner in which their son, Mugabe, was ousted.