Gwanda’s funeral chorister: The tale of Aunt Tomesina, Sahwira

25 Feb, 2024 - 00:02 0 Views
Gwanda’s funeral chorister: The tale of Aunt Tomesina, Sahwira Ms Tomesina Ndlovu

The Sunday News

Sione Amidu, Gwanda Correspondent

While many people solely devote their time to looking after their families, Ms Tomesina Ndlovu, better known as Aunt Tomesina or Sahwira spends a significant chunk of her time consoling the bereaved and celebrating with those with reason to be merry.

 Aunt Tomesina takes the front row seat at every occasion in Gwanda town and beyond. You find her at every important gathering such as funerals, weddings, national events, community activities and parties.

 Aunt Tomesina takes pride in being the town’s funeral chorister and has the zeal to travel far and wide in the company of strangers in the name of consoling the bereaved.

 The Gwanda community appreciates and recognises this rare gift as she has turned into an aunt to all. She has travelled as far as Victoria Falls, Mutare and Masvingo accompanying mourners.


 Some call her Sahwira. In the African context, Sahwira plays an important role in comforting the bereaved and making sure that everyone is well taken care of.  When it comes to Aunt Tomesina, her main role during funerals is singing, dancing and cracking jokes. In many instances, music is used as a means of consoling the bereaved over their loss as it lightens the mood and gives hope.  The chorister said her love for people pushed her to be who she is today. She still recounts the years she started attending funerals, saying she would collect mealie-meal and cooking oil as contributions towards funerals for a club called Dhlulisela.

 “I started this at an early age and we would collect mealie-meal and other basic commodities to contribute to funerals whenever there was bereavement in the community. This was when I learnt the importance of unity whenever families lost a loved one.

“I have accompanied a lot of people to funerals as far as the National Heroes Acre in Harare, Victoria Falls and in the Manicaland province, as long as transport was provided,” said Aunt Tomesina.

 She said she is proud of what she does for the community as it consoles the bereaved.

 “I believe that by doing this, I will be playing the role of Sahwira who is more like a family aunt. My mind will be at peace knowing that I have played my part and when I die they will also return the favour.

“I can do anything that makes people smile like cracking jokes, singing and playing drums so that they don’t think much about their deceased loved one. Mina ngingu muntu wabantu, iJahunda elihle uMaNdlovu special (I’m a people’s person),” said Aunt Tomesina.

 While some take her for a community clown, she is just a woman with a heart for people.

 “I grew up in Gwanda and attended school up to  tertiary level at Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Polytechnic where I studied teaching. I used to work as a teacher. I am married and was blessed with a daughter,” she said

Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Polytechnic

 Aunt Tomesina said mining communities used to follow certain traditions which have changed due to globalisation.

 She said she would continue playing the role of Sahwira as long as she can.

 “I grew up in the mining town (Gwanda) seeing what my elders were doing. We used to live with people from different tribes but we could interact well in unity. Things have changed nowadays as relations are no longer of importance to many.

“Children in the mining town are now losing direction due to modernisation and the collapse of the extended family unit. I have taken it upon myself to play the role of Sahwira for the betterment of the community,” she said.

 Mrs Melinda Maseko from Gwanda town said communities appreciate this rare gift in the form of Aunt Tomesina.

 “Her gift is rare and we are grateful to God for giving us this lovely Aunt. Tomesina is loved by everyone and she loves everyone even up to their time of death. She likes cracking jokes, singing and doing what the deceased loved doing when they were still alive.

 “MaNdlovu special has travelled across the country accompanying strangers. She makes sure that no one is sad. She is our hero that needs to be recognised. You find her at every event in the town whether it’s a funeral, party, church crusade or wedding.

 “She also plays the role of an aunt to our children. If she catches you on the wrong side of the law or doing bad things, she makes sure that she sets you straight. Aunt Tomesina is a very talkative lady who has the ability to unite everyone,” said Mrs Maseko.

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