Coffee With A Masungiro Goat

If you were having coffee with me, I would be happy you visited, I would tell you to pay no mind to the goat smell lingering, as I have had goats as guests for the past couple of days and then as the main menu for dinner.

If you were having coffee with me, I would ask you about the expression “bat shit crazy” I have been thinking, out of all the poop in the world, who decided bats’ was the craziest.

After a day grazing in the backyard, I let the goats sleep in the kitchen and in the morning the smell of goat droppings permeates the walls and thats crazy.

If you were having coffee with me I bet you might wondering I keep such unusual house guests, I would tell you they were goats from sister’s husband, to his mother-in-law for the masungiro ceremony.

Masungiro / kusungira is a tradition observed by some families/culture; where just before the birth of the first child, a pregnant woman in her last trimester goes back home to her maternal home, to not only get advice on childbirth and childcare in familiar surroundings but to ensure she has the full blessings and support of the family and thus have a stress-free birth.

The ceremony also gives a reason for a daughter’s in-laws to meet and socialise with the rest of the family and enjoy some goat meat over relaxed circumstances and to show how they are now welcome as part of the family through the union of marriage.

In the past the masungiro ceremony involved slaughtering a goat in a ritualistic offering to the family ancestors to ensure that the new born child would be welcomed to the family and to secure a complication-free delivery as first births have a high risk of unexpected developments. The ceremony is also for the mothers that, now that their daughter is having a child they must not suffer from the sympathetic back pain, which might cause them to inadvertently curse the daughter’s child birth, words have power.

A presentation is made of the goats by the in-laws to the wife’s family, and a token amount of money paid along with this presentation; after which the goats can be slaughtered and be part of the meal as people meet and socialise with their in-laws; the last opportunity for most of them would have been been at the maroworo ceremony

If you were having coffee with me I would tell you that some people still observe some form of the old traditions and over the weekend my sister’s in-laws visited to pay my mother respects for the masungiro ceremony; amongst the gifts they brought were wrappers for the family mothers which after placing them on door threshold and going in and out of the house, they would tie around their waists to symbolise how they wont suffer from the backache of their daughter’s condition as they have been strengthened by the respect shown to them; the material can be tailored into a dress at later date.

At the end of masungiro the daughter can choose to go back with her husband or to stay with her parents until she gives birth and maybe a little bit after that, in my sister’s case she picked to return with her husband and the next time I see her I will be uncle…

If you were having coffee with me I would ask you knew of any other ceremonies and traditions celebrating new mothers and motherhood…

Have an awesome week ahead

~B

40 Comments

  1. I know of no ceremonies or traditions in my families of origin related to birth or motherhood. Part of that may be because we are so diverse in nationalities, immigration/migration patterns, religious practices and beliefs, and locations where various branches settled over the past few centuries. My mother wrote several researched genealogy books relating to where her mother and father originated. My dad also did some research that one of my nephews is continuing. I suspect we’re about as bland as they come.
    It is interesting to read of people who do have distinct cultural patterns or customs. Hard for me to imagine growing up in a family that does so.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Lizl
      Funny thing about traditions they are subject to the whims of the passage of time and they either die out or evolve accordingly, its part of the reason I write down some of the customs I have experienced because sometimes I feel like I am from the generation, that has forgotten a lot about ourselves and where we came from.
      I understand how some of the old customs have no place in today’s world but it then became an excuse to jettison everything the bad along with the good… one essential detail about our customs traditions is the underlying thing of making sure families stayed together or in contact or gathered and not just so that the only time people met was at a wedding then after that at funerals and in between living separate lives like strangers…
      ~B

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I find the custom of taking the newborn’s umbilical cord and burying it by the heart or by a molehill quite creepy and spelling of all sorts of future disasters, what’s your take on that one as a modern Zimbo?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Good question…. As a modern Zimbo, I wonder about some of these things and the bonds and attachments we create, whether intentionally or unintentionally especially when dabbling in matters whose significance one does not quite understand… I asked my mother about that one, and she said our family does not do anything special with umbilical cord, other than safely disposing of, which sounds about right, unless there’s something else I am not privy to….
      thank you for your insights
      ~B

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  3. To celebrate the mother, I know none but I am certain there used to be one so I will enquire and revert.

    To welcome the child I saw a child wrapped in a blanket, a fire started inside the house (I was shocked for it was my parents doing it in my house and I had been oblivious to the ritual all my life). The flame was put out and the poor little rat (my nephew) was hovered above the fumes. It cried painfully while it’s grandmother repeated the procedure several times without saying a word. I had to leave because I imagined it was the child’s first trauma of a million to come to be inflicted by family.

    When I returned the tiny mouse was covered in dark ash from head to toe. Not allowed to be washed for days until the ash is no longer visible from absorption by his skin and blanket.

    I am waiting for my parents to pass away before I have children (joking, kind of).

    #South African

    Liked by 3 people

    1. that one sounds a whole lot traumatic not only to witness but for the baby too.. out of curiosity when the baby is covered in ash will be visitors be allowed to come see the child or only a very select group of people can visit, asking because I have heard of people who have traditions that newborns cant be seen until after about three months or so….

      hahahaha I bet your parents are probably wondering when they will get to do this for your child and probably stressing you right now that your clock is ticking lol
      ~B

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      1. That is the reason I was puzzled. We don’t sweep graves, nor visit traditional doctors, nor observe the 3 months waiting period to see a newborn, nor spill alcohol to thank our ancestors which our relatives do. No one came that week perhaps the memo was sent privately or generallyknown. But the baby was visited by sundry and all before 3 months.

        I am considered a spinster in my family as I’m in my thirties. My father is in his eighty’s and he claims he is waiting. I told him it really should not matter because all his children have 2 or more kids. Dude is sick with 2 cancers and 1 failed kidney so the odds are in my favour. His sense of humour is darker than mine so feel free to laugh. 😀

        Interesting blog, thank you. This is exactly what I enjoy about reading people in other countries.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You right most likely a secret memo was sent and those who know.., know.
        One of my favourite things about a blog, is you will learn how some things are shockingly similar while others could be no more different yet all the stories are familiar in a weird way…

        Also I have observed people with a good sense of humour are less likely be offended by well meaning sentiments, which is a good thing in a world where people seem to walk around wanting to be triggered, so allow me to say sounds like your father is hilariously dark just wait till he amps up the guiltometer asking why making him suffer maybe even question if you are ok ok with a rather scrutinizing gaze, like how come have never met your “friends” with a weird inflection in pronounciation on the “friends ”

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      3. True. Also, you don’t realize how abnormal some normal parts of your life are until you read they are taboo to another culture. I read somewhere today someone cannot stand hair on soap

        Liked by 1 person

      4. “less likely to be offended” true.

        Oh B, you know my father in person I see. He even told me once he does not care if I love women. I had to relieve him of his misery and introduce my boyfriend. Poor guy is often cornered and prayed over so that God Almighty Jehovah son of lamb can give him children. Then my father apologizes to him that he practiced Christianity over his atheist body but ‘from man to man, it’s nothing personal. He’s just being a good father to his daughter, me. Because his days are numbered so to speak’. I love my crazy father.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. hahahahahaha your father is a riot. In the unlikely event I ever run into him would buy him a shot of very expensive whiskey maybe a Bells, and tell him its ok if he doesnt drink he can just pour it on the ground for his ancestors hahahahaha
        ~B

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      6. I literally had to sit down from laughing until my body is weak. I’m still laughing. If my blog wasn’t a secret to my family, I’d make him him read your words. He’d probably ask me if I would consider polyandry just to tell the world how brilliant and witty his sons in law are.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. wait your blog is a secret? So they know nothing, or rather you think they know nothing… I used to think mine was very low key, until my mum called me asking to clarify on something I had written, it was a fictional story with any relation to reality coincidental but she was convinced otherwise lol… anyway though she doesnt comment she lurks in the shadows reading occasionally calling me to comment or calling if I go for far too long without a new post up…
        ~B

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      8. Laughing, your mom sounds cool! (in case she comes across this comment). Wow, she notices your breaks, she understands it’s importance to you. So Beaton is your real name I gather then?

        I have given the link to closest friends who emigrated (Zimbabwe, Australia, England, Timor Leste, Japan, China). Like your mom they comment via email :).

        I’ve asked my boyfriend and friends here in RSA not to find it. They tried anyway using Google but I already blocked it from being indexed on search engines.

        Unfortunately the other day I noticed him standing behind me while drafting a post so he knows it’s name but he takes consent too seriously to read it.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. You gather correctly, I have an old post about my name; you could give it a look see https://wp.me/p3NqTj-1Mr
        Hahahaha your blog must have quite the air of mystery, around it, and you went and removed it from indexed search I contemplated that once upon a time then opted to just making the blog private but as I grew older I realised a few things, now though I dont actively share my blog links with fam, I dont actively stop them from finding it hahaha
        ~B

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      10. No mystery. Just the freedom to call my family spoilt idiots when I feel that way on the blog. I’d die in real life for they are older. And to vent my anger at nearby friends without facing the consequences.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. been staking your blog, me thinks you just like the option of ranting about people even though you never do ha! I dont think there’s anything too scandalous but hey you can also use the feature to password protect the more lets say sensitive rants while keeping the general stuff available…

        Like

      12. Except 1 I was not ready to end the commitment. For selfish reasons. :

        To elaborate her fickled emotions …. Other times she made comments .. She was joking in these instances but it made me feel guilty. It is like she has an internal conflict on whether she wants to be part of my project or not. I find it exhausting.

        Did I make a mistake, should I have taken on the project by myself? Yes. I made a mistake. … What’s done is done now… I have learned a valuable lesson.
        __________________

        Excerpt 2 eventually I told her to her face:

        I hate Taylor, Mama raised her 10 years before I was born and treats Taylor like her daughter, I liked Taylor until the day she told me her 17 year-old daughter is so smart she knows how much she is worth in cows for when she gets magadi *lobola*, unlike me who is living with a man for FREE.

        And blogs about my racist neighbors paying cops to assault the homeless because they don’t want blacks in my suburb.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t know of any ceremony for the mother but back then they used to bury umbilical cords in the ground. I think traditional people still practice it.
    I like that there is ceremony for the new mother though. Is it the husband’s side that honors their in laws?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have also heard tales of something about burying the umbilical cord on a molehill and some people still practise that too.
      The husband’s side of the family is the one responsible for the ceremony, some families value the tradition so much that should one skip it; in the event of death of the new mother during childbirth complications then the funeral will not take place until its done and damages are paid…
      ~B

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I laughed imagining her see my friends use their bar of soap directly on their bodies and passing it to another to use without rinsing it first. It amused me that in her world body hair is like snort.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This was very interesting. It’s amazing how different cultures believe and/or do certain things regarding life matters, Wow. However, I don’t know about those goats…lol lol. Congrats on becoming an uncle soon =)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for dropping by…
      Yep life is filled with so many beliefs, I think its all stems from that deep down we know is not promised and we cant predict it, so we try to safeguard it, whether its setting up a trust fund, taking out an insurance policy or well presenting your in-laws with a goat hahaha
      ~B

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow, at least we still have some cultures being observed even though we are in the modern world. It keeps within us a legacy we can pass on to our children. Hopefully they wont let it die.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. How did I miss you this week?
    Another mystery of the intercontinental internet to be solved later when I find time for such things.
    Congrats to your sister and I hope you enjoy being an uncle.

    I have only one nephew and one niece, and 2 weeks back the nephew landed in the hospital for abusing alcohol. He’s on the mend, but for several days – he could have been the poster child for why a foolish life has such short term pleasures, but long term misery.

    Hope all is well with you my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

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