When the first day of the month falls on a Sunday, as night follows day the 13th day will be a Friday… Friday the 13th its all perfectly logical… but there is things which logic cant explain…
The 11th month of the year, Mwedzi weMbudzi, Month of the Goat, November comes with some very strange customs. For starters, kutizira (elopement) is forbidden, so are other marriage gatherings, from lobola ceremonies to actual weddings. Nobody gets married in November.
On the list of things also not done in November are ceremonies or rituals that involve communing with the ancestoral spirits these include appeasement ceremonies such as Kubika Doro where traditional beer is brewed for the ancestors and sometimes a cow or goat may be slaughtered (although I have wondered if ancestors suddenly develop a taste for traditional beer what about if you had lived life as teetotaler and for the sacrificial beast if you were a vegetarian would your descendants slaughter a cabbage head for you…)
Shona people (one day I will write about how there is no such thing as Shona people and that it’s a construct) have a tradition called Kurova Guva which is done during the dry season usually August or after about about six months to a year past the death of someone, when the departed’s spirit is invited back into the home and yes traditional beer will be brewed… again with the alcohol.
It is believed the spirit of the deceased will be homeless because it is neither in the world of the ancestors nor a member of the community of the living. The homelessness causes restlessness. This ceremony is not carried out in November. For those who have embraced Christianity traditional ceremonies such as this are considered satanic although memorial services (manyaradzo) can be carried out for the dearly departed.
What happens if one violates these traditions?
•Maybe nothing at all and life carries on.
•Maybe tragic calamity will befall those who do not respect the law of the land, if it’s a wedding the union might be doomed to fail.
•If elders such as the chief or headman are aware of it anyone who violates November tradition will be brought to a tribal council (dare) and made to pay a fine, and of course whatever you did might need to be done again, but not in November of course.
What is special about November?
It seems like tragedy usually strikes in November; death, murder, suicide, mental health breakdowns, maybe it happens all the time but in November we become acutely aware of the November curse whenever something goes wrong… when a mother kills her four children, when a car crashes and burns, killing the occupants, when a march deposes the president or maybe your modem gets struck by lightning….
From my elders I got a rambling explanation that similar to how God created the world in six days and the seventh day he rested, the spirits of our ancestor would also be resting and so one should not disturb them, lest they incur their wrath and also that since they are on a spiritual vacation they wont be protecting us which results in bad things happening…
Its is also believed this is when the ancestral spirits hold court and will not be available to attend to earthly concerns.
An alternative explanation I got was that the tradition spawned back when society was predominantly agriculturally based and November was peak farming season, people would be busy tending their fields and would not have time to go about attending ceremonies and festivals and brewing all that beer when weeds cant weed themselves. So someone just ruled it a taboo and everyone fell into line.
Is this unique to Zimbabwe?
At first I would be quick to respond that it seems like a Zimbabwean only tradition, but after some thought……
•Lets start with Halloween, I am not entirely sure what that is all about but its on the eve of November, All Hallows Eve….
• On the first day of November is All Saints Day or All Hallows’ Day in celebration of All Saints as their number are so many some are not celebrated individually or at all.
• All Souls Day on 2 November in commemoration of all the faithful departed.
• The Day of the Dead (el Día de los Muertos) a Mexican holiday where families welcome back the souls of their deceased relatives for a brief reunion that includes food celebrated each year from October 31- November 2
• From an astrological perspective, the end of October and start of November is also when the Sun moves into Scorpio, the zodiac sign associated with death and rebirth.
•From a Numerology point of view the number 11 holds deep symbolic meaning 1 repeated signifying a dual singularity, alignment and higher realms.
•For Ancient Celtics, November marked the beginning of the cold season whose desolateness reminded them of the coldness of death and just before November begun would celebrate Samhain (The End Of Summer) which is what later evolved into Halloween.
•Some believe that there is a thin veil between life and death but during November its at its thinnest…. it is easier for spirits to cross over and walk among the living, and vice versa — souls ready to move on are prepped for an exit…
There’s definitely something about November… are you familiar with any legends myths and lore associated with November?
I have recently come upon interesting information on how goats in Zimbabwe traditionally have a November Kidding (meaning that goats give birth in November) five months after a winter mating, which is also why November is called Mbudzi meaning goat.
Couple this with that during gatherings and ancestral ceremonies its usually the female goat that will be slaughtered it would result in an increased chance of slaughtering a pregnant female and disrupting the breeding cycle. Thus clever elders preempted this possibility by making it taboo to have wedding gatherings, ancestral feasts and ceremonies….