ZATURA: The life of Losiwe
In the Northern part of Mbiu, in the land of barrenness, hot air and cracked ground, in the land with the seemingly unending sea of brown sand, was a home to the nomads of Mbiu. It was the seventh moon of the year, and as the young men were buried deep in the gold pits unearthing the precious stones, the women sat under the sweltering heat creating the fine balance between mud, ochre and cow dung to decorate their grass thatched houses. The children were out in the fields looking for waterholes for their camels and some to bring back home. The village was in in heavy silence except from the screeching of eagles and occasional footstep. The peace was however disrupted by a whistle blown thrice, which indicated that a woman was in labour and the women were required to provide midwife duties or offer whatever kind of support that was needed. The women rushed towards the whistle, as the men gathered around the husband and engaged in meaningless chatter, as they all hoped for a safe delivery. That- that was how Losiwe made his debut.
Losiwe grew up quite the introvert. He was very diligent in his work, and rarely spoke unless spoken to. He took time to critically think before he made choices or even spoke, which made him stand out from an early age. He generally lived in his head and was very introspective, but he was outwardly kind and empathetic to everyone in the village regardless of their position, age or gender. When he attained the age to be circumcised, he was grouped into an age-set alongside his agemates who were ready for initiation. They young boys and girls went through several classes where they were embedded with relevant life skills by the older men and women in the tribe. Upon completion of the training and initiation into adulthood, the men were almost expected to find a wife and build a home. Losiwe had fallen into the kind hands of puberty and blossomed into a young adult. He stood towered, tall and lanky with brown hair that framed his heart-shaped face and expressive eyes bright with humor. He had ears that peered curiously off his face and had lips that were pale and thin and his nose slender and rounded. A prominent jaw curved gracefully around, and the strength of his neck showed in the twining cords of muscle that shaped his entire body; strong arms, bold thighs and calves, a firm chest and abdomen. He had a thin, high-cheeked face, with a vertical wrinkle between his eyes, and a grizzled ginger beard that contrasted his warm brown skin.
Five moons post initiation, Losiwe had found the apple of his eye. A woman he deemed fit to marry and start the most important journey with- the onset of a whole new generation and extension of his lineage. As required in the Zatura tradition, the young men who were set to get married would be commissioned by the Queen and each man was required to walk through the desert to Guerdon for thirty moons with neither a bag of food nor a calabash of water and make it back in good physical condition. This was a test of resilience in adversity and the young men who went through successfully would be honoured by joining the tribe’s army. The gourd was of vital importance as it was the symbolism of fertility of and good luck. It was the most sacred ornament that hung in the homestead of every married woman, consecrated by the Queen that was believed to dismantle the spirit of barrenness. Apart from the cardinality of the stars, the gourd was the closest the Zatura came to a monotheistic faith. Once a man failed to attain the guard, his homestead was at a higher risk of facing barrenness and bad luck, hence the vitality of this beautiful ornament.
Losiwe took his time in preparation for the long and arduous journey by fasting for 30 moons prior to the auspicious commissioning. He made special sandals from camel skin that would be able to get him through the hot desert ground without scarring his feet. He spent his evening studying the stars to get a bearing on direction, as he intuitively depended on them to navigate to Guerdon during the night. Soon after, the Queen commissioned the twenty zealous young men into the vastness of the desert. The men left with determination, each of them clinging to the hope of making it back in one piece having completed the task. A couple of moons went by and some men started coming back to the village, exhausted, thirsty and waving a white flag, deeming the task undoable. Day in day out, a couple more men came back wearing heavy faces of defeat having not completed the task. By the twenty-first moon, only three men had not yet come back to the village. Every dawn the villagers moved with anticipation in their hearts, silently counting down days to see who had the tenacity to go with the task to the end. Two of the men came back shortly before the end of the twenty fifth moon, with long faces of regret. They had given it their all and failed to reach Guerdon. Losiwe was still out in the desert, guided by the stars and his intuition, and his feet safely guarded by his sandals. On the first night of the thirtieth moon, Losiwe staggered back to the village. He was worn out and his lips cracked. He has a slouch and a wore a tired face that was punctuated with a sense of achievement. The women burst out in a celebratory song to welcome him, as the Queen received him waiting for the prove of completion of his task. He opened his sack, produced a small gourd to the Queen, who nodded in satisfaction and acknowledgement. The Queen then unsealed the guard, poured the liquid in his doorstep and blessed his union and homestead. He was then crowned the village champion for his resilience and tenacity
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