How the People of Gotami Were Moved off Their Land

So the chief told them not to fight the white man. The medicine-men would see what to do. Concoctions and decoctions were mixed, tongues of lizards and tails of snakes, unheard-of plants and pieces of glittering stone, chants and incantations, all put together in pot and wind, then left there to tempt the white man to touch them. If he dared, his head would grow so big he would collapse right there in the land of Gotami, leaving the people of the land to go on with their lives, living in the land of their ancestors.

Early one morning the white man came, with bulldozers and armed men, ordering them all to get out, and the whole land was destroyed. Only the voice of the chief was heard rebuking his ancestors in harsh words, demanding to know what sin they had committed that the white man could reduce them to animals, rats and mice, little rodents which could not fight back.

That is how the people of Gotami were moved out of that land. In that land, birds, monkeys, kudu, elephants, they bathe in the river together with human beings. They listen to every conversation that goes on. The hills too, they swallow anyone who is careless with words, with language, careless enough to insult the owners of the land.

It is the land of wealth. The soil is rich, dark clay soil, rich. Plant a seed today, in two days a seedling emerges, vigorously crawling from under the soil, telling you that this is your time to feed the belly of the body as well as the belly of the purse. Only those who are careful enough to respect the shrines of the land share the destiny of wealth and prosperity. Those who care for words, for the laws of the land, the shrines. The soil feeds the belly, and the belly feeds the purse, as the LDO says.

As for those who have no respect for the angry shrines, death and insanity await them. [Ancestors, Harare: College Press Publishers, 1996, 18]

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