Family Requiem

 

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Through the eyes of my brother

Blessie Ace Ncube, who died a lonely

Death, in the broken hills of Kabwe

In Zambia.

 

There is nothing more pleasant that the

Atmosphere of the Embakwe area after a

brisk

rain

storm followed by Sunshine in the afternoon

The vicksy odour of the ubiquitous Pani Trees fill the

atmosphere with natural fragrants.

Frogs and crabs in the Ebakwe River go on stage

to produce agreeable disharmony.

The (Nyeza) Beatles among Pani Trees also get determined

Not to be outdone by the aquatic choir and stage their own

arboreal concert.  The cumulative results being

a tolerable concoction of sound all over the area.

The murky water of the river move slowly filling the

side pools and ponds oblivious of its own journey

to the sea.

 

It was on such a day, when all the younger children of our village

who were not yet school-goers, nor cattle, ship and goats

shepherds, needed to loose themselves in Mother Nature’s refreshing moments.

 

The afternoon simple triggered a spontaneous response

to take-off for a hunting mood filled the atmosphere

with pleasurable echoes of laughter and screaming,

we were very excited jumping and running

like young calves enjoying the summer season

(sisashakadula nje ngamathole ejabulele ihlobo)

 

In the midst of such a joyous afternoon, where

We all enjoyed ourselves to Mother Nature’s gift

Of peaceful day, the unexpected and unforeseen plans

Of taking an innocent life in a most horrifying, vicious,

brutal, barbaric and inhumane way was executed.

The victim of this merciless act was my eight (8) years

Old brother, William, born in Johannesburg in 1939-03-09

Sharing the month and day of this birth with his brother

Blessie, sister Nekie and Gloria.

 

The reason why my brother could not keep-up

With the rest of the happy group, was that he had

Developed a growth or lump on his right hip, that

made his walking pace lumber, due to the pain that

seemed to have no cure.  All this however did not worry

My sister, because Willy had established a retained but

steady pace of walking or running and would eventually join

The group even if it meant meeting us at home.  This time my

sister had made a miscalculation of the events that would end the day.

 

When the evening descended on our village, and the sunset casting

Its last sunray across our village valley, sending long dark shadows

That quickly spread over the area bidding farewell to the passing day

to welcome the nightfall.  Families got-together in their kitchen-hut,

which had a fire-place at the centre for mothers to cook meals

for their children.

 

Suddenly my mother’s voice called my sister asking her

where Willy was.  She dropped the bundle of wood that

She carried in her hands.  My mother’s question seemed

To engage her mind like a sudden attack that rendered her

Recollection of my brother’s whereabouts to a dumb

founded paralysis.

 

My mother’s strong intuitive thinking grabbed sister’s hand

pulling her to show there where the day’s playing activities took place

the day’s joyous and pleasure route had turned to be a nightmare route

My brother’s absence was definitely a cause for concern.

On the way mum was crying and calling but to no avail

The villagers alarmed by my mother and family

wearily cries of utter desperation and despair come out to assist

in the search for my missing brother.

 

Eventually my aunt called his name and a faint sound barely

perceptible came under a thorny push called (Tswana Moku),

It has very sharp-pointed white thorn girls used as needles to saw pieces

of cloth for their dolls.  The question that I have had no answer

to it is; how did my brother get under that thorny bush?

I suppose it will remain unanswered.

 

His body had deep cuts, bruises and scratches.  The first

suspicion was that my brother might have been attacked

By will animals, but then, why leave him alive.

 

When he was brought home, my uncle Clever as he was called

Fixed his bicycle to carry Willy to the Mission hospital, where

Mama was told of the ritual murder and that his/her assailants

got some of his body parts via his anus.

 

All in all they had done a job of unrivalled brutality on him

Even in pains the undaunted William could however still speak

To my mother, tying to console her and telling her not to cry

One of the last words when my mother tried to offer him

sweets, he said quickly, “you give them to Blessie”.

The sweets my brother said, I would remain eating have

become bitter up to this day.

I have veritably come to think that he merely meant that

He was then passing the burdens of life on to me.

He received his viaticum quietly and left at the Amen

of the ceremony.

 

Messages of his death were sent to other villagers,

Carpenters made his last domicile.  His grave was dug

under a mimosa tree. I sat in the shadow when villagers

were throwing soil in his grave.  No legal proceedings

were made on his assailants.

The only manifestation of protest was from a few

small birds above his grave.

It could not be immediately clear as to whether the

Protest was staged because of fear in the nest or was

a mere quarrel or territorial sovereign among the birds.

 

My grandfather could not take the death of Willie.  He sat

With his head bowed between his bed and wept almost

uncontrollably.  His own health deteriorated fast.  He was

rarely seen outside and barely spoke to anybody.

Exactly a week after Willie’s departure the old man

followed suit.  He was wrapped up in his skin blankets

And laid to rest under a big Pani tree on top of which the

Nyeza wailed continuously.  The dual deaths brought an

atmosphere of gloom in the village.