A full supply of water is flowing to Gokwe, Midlands province, Zimbabwe, following the performance of traditional rites to appease and dispel mermaids from a reservoir for the town, belief in which led workers to refuse to work on pumping equipment there.
Water Minister Sam Sipepa Nkomo said four traditional chiefs slept at the Sengwa 2 Dam last week and performed a ceremony to appease the menacing spirits. The minister said water resumed pumping out of the dam following the ceremony.
He said Sengwa Dam was built because the other reservoir serving Gokwe is fed by boreholes and cannot fully meet the town’s capacity.
Sipepa Nkomo told VOA reporter Violet Gonda that engineers had resisted starting the Sengwa pumps due to fears of meeting with unfriendly mermaids.
“These people who are employed by the government, through the local authority – ZINWA, are black Africans and once something happens to one of them word spreads like wildfire and so they will hear about it. Sipepa said.
“If you try and force an African to try and do something that he knows will result in his injury or death he will not do it," the minister said.
“I learned that it was not only about mermaids but about other unusual things that were happening there. Some of them said even some snakes were seen there and one worker decided to throw a stone at it and I am told he became mentally challenged.”
Analyst Rejoice Ngwenya said such reports from public officials were nonsensical.
“This is a whole lot of nonsense. You can’t be under-developing Africa and Zimbabwe talking about mermaids in the 21st century. This is a bunch of inefficient and ineffective public officials who have nothing better to do than chasing folk stories and pretending that they can’t do projects because of mermaids,” Ngwenya said.
Meanwhile the water minister said plans were underway to perform similar rituals at Osborne Dam in Manicaland province.