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Face to face with Mwenezi woman who spent 40 years with mermaids


Chihwakwa family homestead, Mwenezi East



The woman who recently hogged the limelight after reappearing from the world of
mermaids made her first public appearance on Sunday, December 06, following
several weeks under the restrictive care of Zaka female traditional healers who
helped secure her reappearance.

Rowai Chihwakwa, of
Matande village under Chief Negari, disappeared in 1982 as an eight-year-old
girl, only to reappear last month following a series of rituals spanning two
weeks at the site of her disappearance.

After her reappearance,
the n’angas took her to Zaka where they cared for her while helping her to
adapt back into the real world.

At a ceremony held at
the Chihwakwa village homestead in Mwenezi East, Rowai, who donned a crown of
feathers that are common with n’angas, did not say much as she seemed to be
disinterested or at least indifferent to the many curious faces around her.

Chief Negari, Mwenezi District
Development Coordinator (DCC) Rosemary Chingwe, Mwenezi RDC Chief Executive
Officer (CEO) Albert Chivanga, District Public Service Inspector Last Gondo
were among the prominent people who were part of the gathering.

Flanked by the n’angas,
Rowai’s body was wrapped in a colourful cloth commonly referred to as Zambia.

Her head was veiled,
with her face hardly visible in the hut where she sat on a mat, with a
neatly-woven reed basket containing an assortment of sangoma paraphernalia
right in front of her.

It is believed that if
a person is snatched by mermaids and he/she spends several years with them, the
person – if the necessary rites are performed and members of the family do not
sound ‘unnecessary’ alarm or cry – would come back a connoisseur in
traditional medicine with knowledge of remedies to virtually all ailments and
abnormalities like cancer and infertility.

At the rain soaked
ceremony, Rowai looked strikingly light in complexion perhaps as a result of
her prolonged stay in a paranormal world where sunlight and its scorching
effects are said to be non-existent.

She hardly looked like
one in her late 40s and approaching her 50s, but rather like a post-pubescent girl,
or perhaps in her 20s at the very maximum.

Hordes of people from
the length and breadth of the district braved the rains and thronged the
homestead to witness what many locals considered to be rarer a wonder than a
solar eclipse.

People tucked away
their phones obediently after the family banned cameras, with well-known
sangomas and traditionalists of the district threatening supernatural calamity
to anyone who would try to snap a shot of the intriguing woman.

The large gathering of
visitors could only but take a glimpse at the mysterious Rowai, who has now assumed
a larger than life character in an area which is short of local heroes.

Those who wanted to see
her were required to remove their shoes and act with extreme courtesy both in
speech and body posture; with everybody required to remove their shoes, introduce
themselves by their full names as they entered the hut.

In response, Rowai would
simply nod her head in acknowledgement or mumble two or three barely audible

After much painstaking effort
to get the Chihwakwa family to release more details about the returnee, TellZim
News finally managed to speak to Loveness Maponde who reluctantly revealed that
after several days of trying, Rowai was now able to eat like any other person.

“As you might have
seen for yourself, the girl is doing well but is yet to fully-adapt to our
world. Personally, I can communicate with her with ease. The first person whom
she was able to recognise was her mother and elder brother Alfred. Since the
girl is yet to fully recover, we need not to divulge information which may
derail the progress we have made,” said Maponde.

When asked for a
comment, Chief Negari said it was a great day for people in his area to welcome
Rowai back to the world of physical being.

“It is a pleasure for
me to be here bearing witness to this amazing event. It has been many years
since our daughter was taken by mermaids so we are excited that we now have her
back. I have seen her myself and she is indeed human,” said Chief Negari.

Other sources who
agreed to talk to TellZim News said when she was still ensconced in Zaka, Rowai
would on some instances disappear and reappear later.

“When she was in
Zaka she disappeared and reappeared on three separate occasions. Upon her reappearance,
she would bring with her concoctions of all sorts. Some reeds that had grown
close to her shoulders and were noticed when she came back have since

“She had very long hair
when she came back but it has now receded to the size of the normal hair of any
other ordinary person that you know. It is Rowai’s own instruction that no photograph
must be taken at the moment,” said a source.

Other people who are
well-versed with the family’s travails throughout the 1980s, 90s and early
2000s said they grew up accustomed to the intermittent sound of traditional
drums in the bush especially during the night as the Chihwakwas desperately
tried to bring back their ‘lost’ child.

“As I grew up, I would
ask my parents why there were sounds of drumbeats in the bush far away from
home and they would tell me that the Chihwakwa family was performing
traditional rituals to try and bring back their lost child. It became a normal
thing up until I left my rural home for work in town in the early 2000s,” said
one woman.

The Chihwakwa family
says Rowai disappeared along a small stream known as Matande which offloads its
flow down into the mighty Runde River.

TellZim News is the leading news organization in the Southern region. It provides candid, balanced and timely news from the communities. Keeping it real. Committed to tell Zimbabwe.

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  1. Very interesting story, and I believe every bit of it.

    However, would someone tell us what she was wearing when she disappeared and what eh was wearing on the date/time of her return?

    The body may change, may expand or shrink, but clothes don't.

    What physical size was she then, and today?

  2. This is a true story I'm from this village each nd every yr we could hear some drumbits from the river runde nd this famliy has really made an effort chivanhu chiriko

  3. Its scary though. I just wonder if she still speaks shona or some mermaid language and also how she was surviving all these years. Aimbodyeiko.