Language and communication in the Kurova Guva Ceremony in Zimbabwe
In February 2004, the Right Reverend Alexio Churu Muchabaiwa in a gathering of over 800 Catholic men for the St Joseph's Guild National Congress at Regina Mundi School in Gweru declared that ‘The cultural practice of ‘resting the spirit of departed relatives' (kurova guva) is destroying Christianity.' This comment puts into perspective the efforts of previous scholars who have written on this ceremony, describing its social context. Most scholars have concentrated on what is done at the ceremony, how it is done and what happens if that which is supposed to be done is not done. In this paper, my concern is neither with the recent views expressed by the Right Reverend Alexio Churu Muchabaiwa nor what the scholars listed above have written about the ceremony, my intention is to look at the ceremony from the viewpoint of language and communication. It is through the use of appropriate language and behaviour, determined by the context, that the ceremony realises its intended success. Without that particular language and behaviour of that particular register, the register might not meet with success and the ceremony ends in a fiasco. A description of the social structure or the inclusion of some anthropological data has been deemed necessary because it is from such contexts that we get language. All other data were gathered from personal observations of some aspects of the ceremony, while researching on the dramatic aspects of the ceremony, and interviews conducted with people who took part in all the aspects of these ceremonies.
Keywords: communication, kurova guva ceremony, language, Shona culture, register, Zimbabwe
MARANG: Journal of Language and Literature Vol. 17 2007: pp. 53-70