A poetic prose by Takawira Kapikinyu
No one is sure of the time but the full moon rises from the east just like the sun does every morning. A full white round moon suddenly turns the darkness into a bright hue of light. Grandmother leads us out of the mud thatched kitchen where she had been telling us fairy tales on the fireside. She points to the moon and says she sees a rabbit, an animal famed for its cleverness in our culture. Mothers dispute and claim to be seeing a woman carrying a pile of firewood. Grandma has the last say on what everyone has to believe in. She tells us of how a long time ago in her youth met grandpa and fell in love with him when he had heard her sing from his village. He came with his friends and brothers and they beat the drum like madman and won her heart.
Grandma bursts into her favourite song and us the grandchildren respond with so much energy and zeal trying to impress her and compete for affection. She smiles and directs us with her walking stick when we get out of tune, patting our heads in the process; it's a loving pat we all giggle when she pats you with the walking stick. After we are all in tune she disappears and retires to bed. She is old and has been through it all. Mothers instruct us the sons to look out for boys from the other villages that may come and entice our sisters into some mischief. It's the only way we can stay out without parents’ scrutiny and we agree to the instruction and guard our sisters.
As the moon rises, the whole village's young people would have gathered around in one big circle. We can clearly see each other, the smiles, the ugliness and the beauty. One song is churned after another and people take turns to dance in the middle of the circle, sometimes alone or as couples. We all sing our favourite songs, repeating the most popular often to the annoyance of our sisters. Plumes of dust rise in the air while we dance. Time comes for the Kongonya dance; girls bend over their butts wiggle their waists energetically and enthusiastically while boys follow closely behind rhythmically. Later on we form a human train and go round the huts throwing our legs in the air, left right, left, right till we come back to the main arena. By this time we are sweating, the singing gets louder, the dogs also want to join in but we chase them away.
Suddenly the older men of the village who had been sitting at the outside fireplace come towards and want to retire to bed and instruct us disperse. Grudgingly boys look for their sisters and escort them home in small groups laughing at each other over their dancing skills. With dust up to the ankles we huddle into the blankets on the floor.
Tomorrow will come but it won’t have a full moon.This is how we celebrate the full moon in rural Zimbabwe.
In fond memory of my maternal great-grandmother VaSengwe