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Water restored as Gokwe dam mermaids 'appeased'
13/02/2012 00:00:00
by Deutsche Presse-Agentur
 
Appeasement ... Sam Sipepa Nkomo
 
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WATER is flowing again to arid Gokwe after a traditional ceremony was held to appease "mermaids" who had been terrifying engineers trying to start the pumps at a major local dam, officials said.

Water Resources Minister Sam Nkomo had told Parliament a fortnight ago that operations to commission pumps at a dam in the Midlands town were halted after frightened workers found the machines had "broken down under unclear circumstances and without any traces of vandalism."

Trouble with "mermaids" was also reported at the major Osborne Dam in Manicaland, Nkomo said.

Divers with oxygen masks where dispatched to investigate the cause of the blockages there, but returned to the surface pledging to never go back down.

"That was when we hired white consultants, thinking our people were vulnerable because they are Africans. But the whites too vowed never to go back there," Nkomo said.

In some sub-Saharan African traditions, mischievous water spirits feature prominently, and stories about mermaids abound.

The problem at Gokwe was solved late last week, however, when Nkomo's ministry hired traditional healers to conduct propitiatory rituals, said Chengeto Gozo, area manager for the Zimbabwe National Water Authority.

The rituals included brewing beer to placate the mythological acquatic creatures.
 
"I do not believe in mermaids, but the community that lives in the area does," said Nkomo.
 
Ceremonies would now be held at the Osborne Dam as well.


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