Friday, 29 January 2021

CHAOS AT POLYGAMOUS CHIEF'S BURIAL

INTENSE bickering and fighting among Chief Chikore’s children from his polygamous marriage characterised the traditional leader’s funeral wake last week.

Chief Chikore, born Mr Dennis Mushambi-Chikore (97) from Makoni District, succumbed to Covid-19 at Rusape General Hospital where he had been admitted together with his second wife, Ms Elizabeth Gwefete.

Tempers flared when Ms Gwefete’s children claimed the funeral rights, much to the chagrin of their siblings from the traditional leader’s first wife.

Manicaland Provincial Development Coordinator, Mr Edgars Seenza, confirmed Chief Chikore’s death and said: “Yes, I heard that Chief Chikore passed on and I am waiting for further details. He had tested positive to Covid-19.”

Chief Chikore had 12 children with his first wife, Mrs Chenzira Chikore and three with Ms Gwefete.

Family members said Mrs Chikore and her children were not informed of the chief’s admission in hospital and subsequent death, only to get the news through the grapevine.

Upon the chief’s demise, Ms Gwefete’s children approached Makoni District Development Coordinator, Mr Edwin Mashindi, requesting for funeral assistance to bury their father. Mr Mashindi contacted elders of the clan who professed ignorance over the chief’s death.

Ms Gwefete and her children proceeded to process the burial order and engaged Nyaradzo Funeral Services to ferry the chief’s body to Chikore last Saturday.  A grave had already been dug at Ms Gwefete’s homestead where the chief was staying.

They intended to bury him without the knowledge of some elders of the clan and children from his first wife, claiming that it was his wish.

Upon hearing that their father had passed on and was about to be buried without following traditional rites accorded to departed traditional leaders, Mrs Chikore’s children engaged senior clan members, the District Development Coordinator’s Office and police to stop the burial.

So bad was the situation that the late Chief Chikore’s body had to be driven 150km back to Rusape till an amicable solution was found. The grave was later refilled.

The chief was only buried on Tuesday night in Manyakanyaka Mountain in accordance with traditional rites.

The late Chief Chikore’s daughter from the first marriage, Winnet, said she was shocked by the conduct of her step-mother and her children, saying they wanted to reduce the status of the late chief, just to settle scores with their mother.

“When a chief dies, the funeral is supposed to be a secret until after burial. We have sacred burial places for departed chiefs. We were shocked by the behaviour of Elizabeth (Ms Gwefete) and her children as they wanted to bury our father at their doorstep. A chief cannot be buried like an ordinary villager.

“We did our best as his children to make sure that his status was not lowered. Some people were taking advantage of his advanced age to make him do questionable things, including seeking a peace order against us the children of his first wife,” said Winnet.

Efforts to get a comment from Ms Gwefete were fruitless as she was said to be recuperating.  This was not the first time for Chief Chikore’s dispute with his family members to spill into the public domain as is in 2019, he dragged his five children with Mrs Chikore to Rusape Civil Court seeking an order barring them from visiting him or business premises.  

He also alleged that his children were in the habit of insulting and assaulting him. The children denied assaulting or insulting him and Rusape magistrate, Ms Rufaro Mangwiro, dismissed the application, saying the chief should lead by example and live in harmony with his family.

The late Chief Chikore was installed as the third Chief Chikore in 1998. Manica Post

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