Karen Mukwasi is the projects coordinator for Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe and is currently studying with the University of South Africa. She is a fellow of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Young Leaders program. Karen believes in the power of written work and is committed to writing for social justice.
By Tendai Mwanaka
I really wanted to get into the waterfall or at the very least get close enough to touch it. When I got near it, I felt like I was a part of it. Below was a deep green pool. I was not sure how deep, but anything that appeared too deep has always scared me. So I could not begin to imagine what might lie inside. I imagined water animals that I’m not fond of: snakes, mermaids, and crocodiles. But, I was mostly scared of the Njuzu that day, so we enjoyed it from the outside. It’s not a joke, I am afraid of these aquatic half human creatures. In my culture and country, these creatures are associated with supernatural forces, for instance it is believed the most potent traditional healers is of the Njuzu calling. It is said that they were often people who had been abducted by a Njuzu and secreted deep inside caves, in the river’s pools, where they would be taught the trade. So growing up, we were always afraid of river pools that were said to have Njuzu in them. Afraid we might be abducted by these supernatural creatures. It is also believed that should people mourn for you after your abduction, these creatures would kill you. Thus you can understand my fear of these creatures at that instance.
Among other writings, Mr Mwanaka is currently working on a book of creative non fiction titled Zimbabwe: The Urgency of Now. His work has appeared in several journals, anthologies and magazines in over 27 countries. Some of these works have been in translation, notably into French and Spanish.