Cross-Border Mobility, Violence and Spiritual Healing in Beitbridge District, Zimbabwe

A journal article by Dr Francis Musoni

This article examines the significance and contestations surrounding some small huts, which are found at the margins of many homesteads in Beitbridge district on the Zimbabwean border with South Africa. Locally referred to as zvimba zvemipfuko, the huts are part of a socio-cultural phenomenon called chimwanakadzi, which also involves the pledging of young girls to appease avenging spirits of migrants killed in Beitbridge as they travelled between Zimbabwe and South Africa. The study argues that chimwanakadzi is intended not only to treat people haunted by avenging spirits, but is also an attempt to combat on-going violence and build cohesive communities in the border district. However, this phenomenon faces opposition from Christians who castigate it as sinful, and human rights activists who view it as an abuse of young girls and a denigration of women’s dignity.

Musoni, F., 2016. Cross-Border Mobility, Violence and Spiritual Healing in Beitbridge District, Zimbabwe. Journal of Southern African Studies 42, 317–331.