Mumbi-The Warrior Princess
We didn’t see it coming, until they turned on us. They kept on feeding us more lies, promising us a better future, but nothing changed. They took away our jobs, our money, and forced us to join their mafia groups. Women got raped, children were killed, and they even burnt the white folks, and took away their farms. We tried to stop them, but they kept beating us, if you were unlucky you got shot or put in to prison. I remember when I was five years old my uncle used to tell me the story of the warrior princess. It’s funny; I can still hear him talking to me, in his deep adenoidal husky voice, when I’m feeling nostalgic, as if I am still five years old.
“Look baba mukuru,’’ Pointed the little girl, at the kitchen door. “Look.”
“What is it? My little pumpkin,” said baba mukuru. “What are you pointing at?
The little girl jumped off her uncle’s lap, and quickly ran to take a closer look, at a sculpture hidden behind the wooden door. In amusement; she daintily introduces herself to the sculpture.
“Hi I’m Nicky and what’s your name? You don’t talk very much; you must be shy like me. What are those beads on your head? Can I touch them, they are beautiful.”
Transfixed and amazed. Baba mukuru, quietly observes his little niece, and watches her innocently fondle the sculpture, with her tiny little hands. She gently strokes the face of the female sculpture, exploring the mouth, nose, and lips as she intimately engages with its beauty. He attentively listens to her and lovingly affirms in his deep adenoidal husky voice.
“That my little flower is the warrior princess from the ancient Kenyan tribes. It was a gift, given to me by the great Chief of the Igukuyu tribe on my journey to Kenya. In the ancient civilisation, there was a powerful king called Chief Igukuyu who ruled the Kingdom of the Igukuyu people. The great chief married a beautiful village girl, queen Wanaka who passed away after giving birth to their daughter. He too became very ill, and passed away leaving his only daughter the warrior princess to rule his kingdom. At the age of sixteen, the warrior princess led an army of about fifty-thousand men, against the Chief of Ambeli who threatened to take over their Kingdom. The Ambeli war was a bloody and tragic warfare, thousands died but the young warrior princess was victorious. The great Chief of Ambeli and his army were defeated, and the young princess became the most feared warrior in Kenya. After her victory the beautiful princess, fell in love with a young Chief from the Atonga tribe, and was offered his kingdom under her rule in exchange for marriage. The princess accepted his offer and was crowned Mumbi ‘the great queen and mother of all tribes.
“Wow baba mukuru,’’ shouted the little girl in excitement. “She has my name Mumbi.”
“Yes she does my little flower, and one day you too will grow up, to be a warrior princess.”
Scripted in my name, was the powerful spirit of the great warrior princess. On his journey to Kenya my uncle, had visited the great village of the Igukuyu tribe. He was taken to an ancestral shrine where the Igukuyu worshipped their powerful creator. They had travelled at night and when they arrived at the magical shrine, there were four tribal guards, holding their spears. The great chief spoke, “welcome to the magical shrine of the Igukuyu people. Only a few are chosen to visit the spiritual ancestral shrine. I had a dream before you arrived to our village my friend. The ancestors spoke to me in my dream, and showed me a man who was walking from a distance. The man bears the spirit of the wild painted wolves, as his totem. He is a prince, from another village like ours where a great chief once ruled a powerful kingdom. What is your totem my friend?
“Mhlauzi, the wild painted wolf.’’
“What is the name of your village?
“I do not come from a village I was born in the city; my father owned many businesses until he became blind and passed away.”
“Huuuuuh I see. Remove your shoes my friend, before you enter into the shrine. You will see a beautiful stream. Next to the stream is a wooden chalice, pour the water into the chalice and chant your totem five times. Pay attention to the watery sounds of the stream do not sit down; stand still and calmly, until the spirits have spoken. Unfortunately I cannot enter, into the shrine with you. The ancestors only allow one person at a time, to enter into their sacred sanctuary. They believe that each person has their own sacred fortune to be told and must experience it alone.”
He entered into the magical shrine, and found a wooden chalice in front of the stream. He gently picked it up and poured water from the stream into the chalice. He chanted his totem five times, and slowly drank the water whilst staring at the stream; he could hear strange watery sounds softly echoing in the shell shaped sanctuary. “Shuh, shuh, shuuuh.” Strange voices started to echo in a silvery musical tone. “Shuh shuh, shuumlhauzi my son, a great illness will befall you, and take away your fortune. I see a child being born; she will be like Mumbi our creator. She will face great challenges in her society. There will be war, and conflict amongst the leaders of your nation,” echoed the voices as they silently, disappeared. Dismayed, after drinking the water he found the chalice magically sitting next to the stream and dizzily walks out of the ancestral shrine.
“Well my friend,” asked the Chief inquisitively. “What did the ancestors say?”
Confused my uncle replied, “That ill health shall befall me.”
“Huuuuh,” sighed the chief. “I am sorry to hear that.”
“They spoke of a child and my brother is expecting a baby.”
They returned back to the village where they had a traditional ceremony, in celebration of their creator which lasted three days. After the ceremony, my uncle soon parted from Kenya. When he arrived in Zimbabwe, good news awaited him from his brother.
“My dear brother how was the journey,”
“It was good just a bit tired,”
Well, we have a little Mhlauzi, at the hospital waiting for you.
“I heard, so what is the little princess’s name?
“How do you know it’s a princess?
“It’s a long story my brother...a long story.”
“Well her mother named her Nicola.”
“Then I shall name her Nicola Mumbi since it is our tradition for the uncles to name their brother’s first child.”
“Mumbi, what a strange name.”
“Yes my dear brother, Mumbi.”
I was twenty-five years old when my uncle passed away. I remember when my dad used to tease him about, the prophecies from the ancestral shine, until he fell ill. Then he lost his job, and had to sell his house to pay off all his debts from a bad business deal. There was a massive political conflict between the political leaders with in the country, we had no food, or water, they destroyed our homes and businesses. We had no choice but to fight; I wasn’t going to let them take away my freedom. I was going to fight like a warrior princess.
“Where is she constable? shouted the police officer.
“They locked her up at Highland’s police station,” replied the other constable. “We finally caught her.”
“The secret agents will collect her from there.”
“What are her offences?
“Public disruption and protesting against killing those bloody white farmers.”
“Is that a criminal offence? Doesn’t she get a fine or imprisonment?
“Worse I’m afraid, fifty-thousand people protested against the government in her name.”
“Bloody hell, was that her.”
They had locked me up at the Highlands police station, in Harare. I was accused of embarrassing the government, and was brutally beaten for protesting and helping the white farmers. I felt sadness, as I sat on the little bed by the corner of my prison cell. I closed my eyes and felt my mind drift away into a swirling darkness. In the midst of my darkness was a golden key floating in the palm of my hand. There was a bright yellow; light glowing intensely from the golden key. Immersed by its powerful presence, I watched the darkness fade away and a ghost appeared of woman dressed in white. I couldn’t see her face clearly; I was too blinded by the brightness of her white dress. She spoke, in a very powerful and loud disembodied voice.
“I am Mumbi the mother of all tribes. I am the goddess of the tribe of Igukuyu. Be strong my child your inner power lies in the heart of your soul, where your true spirit is hidden and sanctified. I want you to close your eyes my child. What do you see?
I closed my eyes, and answered her weakly in a toneless, wobbly voice. “I see hundreds of people, dressed in white.”
“Go on my child, do not be afraid, what do you see.”
“I see hundreds of people gathered together in a circle by a small river. There is a man looking at me dressed in a white gown, holding a wooden stick. He is speaking to me.”
“Come here my child you are late, take off your shoes before you walk into the spiritual shrine. Hurry go and sit with your sisters, they have already started to pray. Fellow worshippers,” shouted the man in a prophetic loud voice. “I am madzibaba your prophet and leader, Let us all gather together women facing the west, and men facing the east. Let us pray, let the spirit of truth awaken our knowledge, let the spirit of our creator bless us with wisdom. Behold I see a vision of a woman, the spirit of prophecy shows me a woman who will fight for her nation. Let’s rejoice said madzibaba.’’
“Halleluiah halleluiah.” screamed the crowd
“Amen.” praised madzibaba in a loud voice. “The spirit is amongst us and wants to reveal a new prophetess, and her name is Mumbi. In her land they call her the mother of all tribes, lets rejoice and pray.” cried madzibaba. “Let’s rejoice.”
His voice echoed; as I began to feel my mind slowly drift away back into the swirling darkness.
“Wake up young lady; they have come to pick you up.”
“Where am I, and who are you?
“It’s me, the police officer, constable Branu get up its time to go,”
“Owe, where are they taking me officer?
“To the maize, field.”
“The maize field, what’s there?
“Have you prayed my dear friend, you are a very brave young woman. They call it the traitor’s field, that’s where all the people that fight against the government get punished. It’s just behind the main prison, where the hard core criminals are kept.”
I remember feeling scared as they hand cuffed me and dragged me into the back of their police van. When we arrived, I could see a wide maize field. A man dressed in a black suit came to collect me. We walked through the maize field until we reached the middle of the field. The middle part was clear and had no maize trees. There was another man dressed in military uniform, standing in the middle of the field.
“Hand me my gun,” said the military man in a taut and shrill manner. “Nicola... Mumbi.... you have committed a crime punishable by the death. You have been charged with treason and disrupting public peace and causing terrorism against the government.”
“Bang bang bang.” Shot the gun six times as I took my last breath. I felt my mind drift away into a swirling darkness. In the midst of my darkness, was a golden key glowing intensely as the darkness began to fade away.
By Nickyola Mumbi .