RHYTHM OF ANCIENT SONGS AND BEAT OF AFRICAN PRAISE POETRY My birth is a metaphor of bullet-traces and the ironic verse of Leninist style-songs for black liberation that reverberated the grey-mist clad red-mountains of home – Zimbabwe. My birthing was a stitch between the thud of war-time guns and a heave of pungwe jives. Young women of my mother's age were volunteer maids during the traumatic but zeal-oiled Chimurenga times, cooking and washing for the cadres of liberation. Chimurenga songs sung by these war-ironed peasant mothers and bullet-toughened collaborators in the red-hills of Wedza. These Mother-guerrillas endured the hard throbs of grenades and the thrash of midnight-rains in those village hills alongside bushy male combatants. They learnt the soprano of the gun and the tenor of death.These were heaven-echoing struggle hymns. On the day of my birth, heavy rains rattled the winter-crusted red-earth. Rivers sobbed with heaven's tears and sorrows of war. That grueling night, swarms of collaborators were moved from one base to another, my earthly goddess was among those pilgrims of war. …her heartbeat thrilled my tender ears and her blood-ripples lulled my faint soul to sleep. And somy foetus spirit rode along with waves of echo and beat of verse. Ingenuity. I am the blessing of the trip, the child of war song and rain. A mystery. I am a child of song. I was birthed during the exodus. That rebel's war was characterized by death, wailing, stampede, bravery, shallow-graves, song and continuous walking. A trailblazing Africa reality show. My earthly goddess was a dedicated collaborator, volunteer and songstress. She carried freedom in the sacred cave of her womb. After their strange overnight long walk to freedom base of Mbirashava – rains ceased fire, war-drums paused and their echoes got trapped into the blankets of early day mist. Then came my birth cry they say like an exclamation engraved on the yellow-disc of the smoke-bruised African sun. Claws of dawn caressed the sorrow-soaked red-hills. My goddess wriggled in a thick volcano of red-clay mud, ochre-red blood and dead grass. Her womb groaned from labor pangs and suddenly the wind was cold. June dared the earth and everything in it. Cold-winds whined ferociously to disobedient flora and delinquent vultures. Winter, fast clicking a pause button to the jungle's daily festivals. I was born. Cadres and collaborators dribbled a liberation jive for my homecoming. They called me Gandanga. I was initiated into this earth by the alto of howling winter-winds, baritones of barking-baboons and the ease soprano of hooting-owls. A child of song. I was introduced to the festival of sounds, loud and low, good and bad, discordant and beautiful. Upon arriving at the village homestead, the earth trembled, the air got electric with ululations. My paternal grandmother fervently recited a traditional totemic praise poem. “Chirasha, Chikandamina, Weshanu uri pauta, Mavsingo a Govere, Vari Zimuto, Mukwasha waMambo, Vakafura bwe rikabuda ropa” A lone drum thrilled them into the audience into another dancing routine. The echo of the tinkling drum resonated with the beat of my grandmother's recitations. They said that my eyes winked in response to their merriment. Even up to this day, I beat my chest with pride to that ceremonial reception performed by an elder qualified to be my ancestor. My old singer-grandmother usually bundled me behind her old but steely back. Lullabies caressed me into dreamland until my goddess returned from her daily errands. I was raised by extraordinary songs, sweet and mellow to every infant's senses. I enjoyed the ear-tickling ancient poetry. They say I slept to the rhythm of that beautiful lullaby. My grandmother was Gogo in African – she would fall asleep too. Mother returned from the red-clay fields to find us under the watch of spirits and snores. After some weeks my umbilical cord wilted and fell. They buried it under the hearth near the main fireplace. Thus how we are bonded by our departed clan spirits. And so I grew up in a highly strict African traditional clan. My father and fellow clansmen brewed ceremonial beer for traditional rites. They supplicated to ancestral gods to end life-tormenting ailments, ravaging hunger, abject poverty and bad omen. Their usual incarnations, totemic praise's performances cultivated the griot in me. Praise and protest poetry became my official language. After my umbilical cord rites, my father gave me a name. He named me after the most powerful battalion of Tshaka Zulu, a battalion that never lost even a single battle – Imbizo.

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