Villagers under the Chief Chitanga area in Mwenezi District have for the past five days been making frantic efforts to secure the return of a girl who disappeared 11 years ago.
Hundreds of villagers have been performing traditional rituals on the shores of Runde River, where the girl, Vongai Matiza, vanished 11 years ago, in the hope she will return.
The villagers have been singing and dancing day and night since Wednesday last week at the spot where Vongai was last seen taking a bath.
Officially, she is believed to have been snatched by a crocodile, but since her disappearance in 2010, her family and the community have always believed she was seized by mermaids and would one day return.
A villager who spoke to NewsDay but declined to be named said the rituals will continue until the girl returns. Said the villager:
The ceremony is being carried out day and night punctuated by drum beats, song and dance as well as beer drinking while sangomas are taking turns to perform rituals trying to bring back the girl from the waters.
It is said the ceremony can last up to three months or until the girl comes out.
Chief Chitanga confirmed the ceremony in an interview with NewsDay yesterday saying:
I heard about it, but I am yet to get finer details of what is going on. I have to make a phone call to the headman for finer details.
The village head, one Hlaisi, could not be reached for comment on his mobile phone.
In Zimbabwean mythology, mermaids appear as aquatic creatures with the body of a female human and the tail of a fish.
They are known to lure people with their beauty and soothing music before taking them down, often spending decades before they return them as powerful healers.