Plan Shenjere, Nyabezi1 Nyabezi1


Despite Westernization and particularly the advent of Christianity and its
widespread entrenchment on the African continent, traditional indigenous
rituals continue to constitute an integral part of African religious belief
systems and practices. This article presents the results of an ethnoarchaeological
study of two death rituals that are conducted by the Ndau
people of south eastern Zimbabwe. The rituals are a demonstration of
attitudes towards death and beliefs about the role of the dead among the
living. The Ndau do not believe that death signals and represents the end
of life. In the same vein and perhaps more importantly, the Ndau do not
believe that death just happens. It is caused by human agency out of
jealousies, hatred and conflict among the living. These beliefs are central
to the two rituals presented and discussed here: the first ritual is
conducted to ascertain cause of death and the second to bring back the
spirit of the deceased from a temporary state of limbo immediately after
death. Meat and beer are central to these rituals, firstly as offerings to the
deceased and secondly as an important part of the living celebration of the
rituals. The paper then explores some interpretive implications of the
rituals from an archaeological perspective.

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