Not all that glitters is gold: Chronicle of a day at Cricket Mine

It was during the trip back to Harare from  our whirlwind tour of the Midlands province sniffing for news that we decided to pass through Cricket Gold Mine in Battlefields where more than 20 artisanal miners perished in a tragic accident in February.

I refer to ‘we’ NOT because I am  the ‘trinity’, but because it was a team comprising of myself, managing editor Elias Mambo, editor Nigel Pfunde and our ever-smiling multimedia specialist Pascal Madiri.

We had previously spent four days at the mine in February during the rescuing period and we were also present on the retrieval of the last two bodies so we wanted to check if operations had resumed.

We wanted to follow our story till the end so that when we report on i,t we stand on solid ground and authorities will act to avert similar loss of lives.

As the fourth estate that is our role and mandate- to keep authorities on their toes through documenting such avoidable disasters .

As we drove into the mine, the reception was humbling and the security guards at Cricket Mine recognised us so gaining access was smooth.

The guard was smiling from ear to ear as he broke to us how we had coincidentally visited them at a time where a cleansing ceremony preparations were in progress.

“Thank God you are here at the right time, mafemerwa (the spirits have spoken to you) , we are having a cleansing ceremony next week and it will be good for the world to know that we are now cleansing our place before we start our activities again,” said one of the security guards.

We exchanged greetings as per our tradition and norm, we shared a few jokes as we walked towards the mine shaft which trapped young souls of  Xavier Masarirevhu, Blessing Ncube, Evans Chibawa and Cosmas Masarirevhu.

The security ushered us where Mbuya Zvirevo was brewing traditional beer for the ceremony which is expected to take place next week.

Mbuya Zvirevo is a medium and representative of Chief Ngezi (Senator Peter Pasipamire)of the Mupamombe clan who ordered the cleansing ceremony.

She narrated the necessity of the bira which will attract chiefs from all the provinces.

She also emphasized that the country was rich such that even a two year old can come across gold and recognise it!

“We are here to cleanse this place , we want to ask the deceased to rest in peace and last night I even saw them moving around the mine, we know they are dead but they should allow their peers to continue working here.

“The boys should rest that is why we are brewing beer,” narrated Mbuya Zvirevo.

She said the ‘gods’ of the deceased had accepted their request as evidenced by the rate at which the traditional brew ‘fermented’.

“Ravira nenguva shoma zvichiratidza kuti vana nevadzimu vavo vatambira donzo redu.Vazhinzi vanga vasiri vemumusha muno vaibva mativi mana enyika saka zvinofadza (Their gods accepted our request because most of them migrated fromother provinces)

We listened attentively as Madiri captured every detail of her narration on video.

Mbuya Zvirevo went on to give the Do’s and Dont’s  when one is underground and from her explanation she made it clear that her belief is that gold is a  spiritual stone .

“If you want to go underground please make sure you bath after engaging in sexual intercourse with your partner, fodya yemadzisahwira (madzisahwira referring to white people) edu hayidiwi pasi apa (Cigarettes are not allowed underground ) . “Our ancestors who are down there need mbanje (marijuana) and bute (marijuana and snuff),” she explained with a passionate plea.

After her narration, she offered us the beer she was brewing and we tried to resist it but however she coerced us to take a few sips- save for Mambo.

“You are here ,and our ancestors have welcomed you here, why are you refusing their offer?”.

We just kept on clapping hands endless times for we were not sure which juncture where we supposed to clap as per tradition.

The beer came and we had a few  sips like wine tasters ,it tasted different from my usual brand but interestingly  Nigel Pfunde nodded his head agreeing that Mbuya Zvirevo’s brew was the best.

We bade farewell to the elders and miners and drove back to the capital

May the souls of the deceased rest in eternal peace.