The Rain Dancers
Kudakwashe Sarah Mushayabasa

they spin, they jump, they thump
their bare feet into
the cracked earth, kicking up
dust which clouds the air
and we cough

our throats are parched and raw
our chests are full of the ringing drums
hoshos give off the sound of rattling beads
ululations scream from our dancing tongues

above us is the empty sky
above us is where our hearts lie
but there’s not a single cloud
just the angry sun

today our magic will be tested
today our ancestors must be entertained
they have put us on trial
for we had long forgotten about them

we had turned to a different kind of magic
we had snubbed our own ways and embraced others
oh, how we had marveled at technology!
but now those ways have taken the rains

are we not forgotten and dead to our ancestors
are we now not corpses walking aimlessly without rains
and so here we are with drums and song
dressed in traditional attires our bodies do not know

none dares stops their singing
none of us dares stops their clapping
we will go on like this
if the ancestors please

for corpses never tire
for corpses, they never feel pain
they only thirst for rains
nothing else but water is needed

Amanzi, mvura, water
Amanzi, I pray, as sweat waters my back
we all stink of sweat and it’s mingled with
perfumes that we had doused earlier

we clap on expectantly, for
we have not one but three rain dancers
three ready to break both their legs
if it pleases the ancestors

surely, the rains will come
surely, three rain dancers are better than one
the sky coughs and spits
children stick out pale tongues to drink

we the adults with red stinging eyes look up
we don’t stick our tongues out for it’s only a drizzle,
not rain
so we stop
for we know that this is all we’ll receive today
but we shall try again tomorrow, to dance for rains

Kudakwashe Sarah Mushayabasa (she/her) is a Zimbabwean and lives in the city of Bulawayo also known as the city of Kings and Queens. She holds a B.A. in Publishing Studies. “The Rain Dancers” is her first attempt at poetry, a poem that was inspired by her Karanga culture. The Karanga are a tribe of people who have historically been known to hold mutoro ceremonies. The ceremony is a way of connecting to rain spirits and asking them for rains, unlike the poem the mutoro is actually preformed once a year. You can follow Kudakwashe on Twitter @kay_mabasa_ where she always follows back.

Leave a Reply