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Shrill cries of a nameless, totemless man

By Veronica Gwaze

William Munupe Magoma, who grew up in Pretoria, South Africa, might hold a South African identity card, but he feels stateless, totemless and nameless. Wherever he goes, the 51-year-old man always feels as if he is endlessly carrying a stubborn monkey on his back.

William Munupe Magoma
William Munupe Magoma

His is a common tragic real-life African telenovela story shared by many Zimbabweans.

It all started in 1968, when Magoma’s aggrieved mother – who had become estranged to her polygamous husband – decided to secretly take her son from Zimbabwe to build a new life across the Limpopo.

She was, however, so thoroughly nauseated by her past that she decided to bury it – she changed her name to Makerekena Flora Mokoena and erased her son’s name – Reginald, which was given to him by his father and replaced it with William.

The spited woman also substituted her son’s surname with that of her father – Magoma.

As a result, the man now carries the burden of a borrowed name.

“The surname Magoma belongs to my (maternal) grandfather.

“We came to settle in South Africa in 1968 when I was still a toddler, when my mother ran away from father.

“As a great man, it is said that my father married many wives and my mother did not countenance that, so she fled with me out of frustration, and that is the last encounter I had with my father and his family,” said a tearful Magoma in a recent interview with The Sunday Mail.

As Magoma grew from a toddler to a teenager and an adult, his mother tightly locked away her secret deep within her broken heart.

Any hope for him to salvage his identity died and was buried with his mother in 2009.

Stalked By Misfortune

But, worryingly, Magoma, who was nicknamed “Reginald Colt” by his family when he was a toddler, believes he has been having haunting visitations from his father in his dreams, pleading with him to reunite with his kith and kin back in Zimbabwe.

“He (my father) just silently stood crying tears of blood,” narrated Magoma of the dream he first had in 1993.

There is, however, one problem: he neither knows his father nor any of his relatives, or the area where his tribesman hail from.

He only knows that his father was a man of both wealth and consequence.

He also knows that since that dream in 1993, he has been stalked by horrible and grating misfortune.

In fact, he has failed to keep several decent jobs, he has been in and out prison and all his marriages seem to always fail.

“It hurts me because sometimes I am just fired for no reason. Even my marriages just end like that.

“One of my ex-wives even told me that she could not stay with me because I am a haunted man,” he said.

The Polokwane-based Magoma is now on his fourth marriage.

He currently owns an arts and culture non-governmental organisation, which recruits jobless teenagers for various art projects.

“Art is an inborn talent which I discovered in 1995 in a dream in which my father handed me a match box and asked me to reproduce the lion picture on it.

“He kept pestering me until I woke up in the wee hours of that night and drew it as he instructed, and since that day, my life has been art,” he said.

Much to his dismay, his skill cannot help stitch together pieces of his seemingly shattered life.

In 2003, Magoma was arrested for assault and he spent three months in prison.

He claims that while in prison, he mysteriously went blind.

And this time, he says, he got a dream from a man who identified himself as his grandfather.

He reportedly subsequently restored his sight.

A year later, he was arrested, again, after some goods went missing at a company he was employed.

He was sentenced to three years in prison.

Weirdly, Magoma lost his sight only to regain it after serving his full sentence.

And for the umpteenth time, his grandfather appeared in his dreams and told him his woes would only end when he retraces his footsteps and is reunited with his own blood in Zimbabwe.

“This time he told me that I had a huge role to play at my father’s place,” he said.

The Prophecy

A member of the Zion Christian Church (ZCC), Magoma, in 2011, got a revelation that “crushed” his soul.

“The prophecy said I was wasting my time praying and that there was no solution, save for me going back home to sort out my issues,” he said.

But he does not know where to start searching for his father.

From his recollections, he thinks they come from Mazowe in Mashonaland Central.

From his childhood memories, he knows that his aunt’s name is Salmina, while his uncles are called Mukanganyani, a farmer, and Manana, who is a builder.

He doesn’t have a clue whether they are dead or alive.

He only knows that without finding his family, he might be condemned to a life of perpetual torment.

Searching for Answers

Scientists, traditionalists and the religious are, however, split on what needs to be done.

Dr David Bishau, a lecturer of religious studies at the Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU), believes that human beings are made up of a physical and spiritual being, with the latter closely related and influenced by forces in the metaphysical world.

“These forces cannot be explained scientifically,” said Dr Bishau.

“For Magoma, we cannot rule out the fact that he could be haunted by these spirits and unless he finds his family, his woes will not end.”

Perhaps the most disconcerting fact, according to Dr Bishau, is that these forces have the potential to haunt Magoma’s children and grandchildren.

Zimbabwe National Practitioners Association (ZINPA) president Friday Chisanyu opines that the troubled man needs to visit his family for him to find peace.

“It brings bad omen for one not to know their roots and even if their family is deceased, by just getting to the homestead were they used to live, has a deeply spiritual impact that can help.”

But Methodist Church in Zimbabwe pastor Clever Chirinda says there is no connection between the living and the dead.

All that Magoma needs, he said, is deliverance.

As commentators continue to split hairs over the issue, Magoma is still a man desperately looking for an answer. The Sunday Mail