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Truck takes out Zim's magic tree

2011-12-09 08:42

EX-SACRED TREE: Zimbabweans have been spooked since a truck pushed over a tree long held as being the one used to hanged spirit medium Mbuya Nehanda.

HARARE, Zimbabwe - A careless truck driver in Zimbabwe felled the tree from which a famous spirit medium and anti-colonial icon was reputedly hanged in 1898, sparking wild speculation across the country.

A city council truck carrying out repair work knocked down the tree, an Harare landmark considered by some to have magical powers.


The msasa tree is believed to have been used by British settlers to hang Mbuya Nehanda, a Shona spirit medium who was also a hero of the struggle against colonial forces. Local lore has it that she could bring rain in times of drought and that she said before dying: "My bones will rise again."

Other sources, however, say the "magic tree" story is an urban myth and that the woman was hanged on a normal gallows at the then Salisbury, Rhodesia, central police station.

Zimbabweans saw the death of "Nehanda's tree" as a bad omen and others as a harbinger of political change in a country ruled and riven by Robert Mugabe since independence in 1980. He was prime minister from 1980-87 but became the first executive head of state in 1987. Since then the country has been run into the ground with graft, political favours and corruption.

Perhaps Mbuya Nehanda should rise again then the truck driver will have done the country a favour...


Other reports said the tree was used to hang leaders of the first uprising against European settlers, including the ancestral grandmother of the nation Mbuya Nehanda, in 1898 after she was found guilty of ordering the beheading of native commissioner Henry Pollard.

A n'anga (witchdoctor) performed rites over the split trunk and gnarled branches on Thursday demanding homage be paid and forgiveness sought at Nehanda's grave site north of Harare for the destruction of the tree. Crowds gathered at the felled tree to take pieces of its billowing green leaves, splinters and bark.

The tree fell on the same day as Mugabe marked the country's national tree planting and re-forestation campaign by planting a tree in the Bulawayo.

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