He is a name anyone in Mount Darwin knows. Cars of different makes have thronged his compound in search of answers to complex questions life occasionally throws at people.
Gifted with a divine endowment, Sekuru Seke Mutema (born Israel Chigogo) is a man with a rocky breakthrough tale.
“I am a spirit medium, I have had this gift since birth,” he says. “If people have issues troubling them, I consult my ancestors and follow through the trail to see where things are going wrong.”
Just like medical doctors, he too does not speak on the identities of his clientele, but he says he has seen it all in his long spiritual journey.
“I am a person who believes that ancestral gifts should be used to better the world,” says Sekuru Chigogo.
“I have helped people who were struggling to conceive, some who wanted to pursue business interests and many other concerns which needed spiritual attention.”
His work does not only focus on individuals, as he says he has extended his divine duty to national matters.
“Sometimes I go into the bush to invocate for the good of the country, I feel it is my duty to ask the ancestors for rain and good fortune for our nation of Zimbabwe,” he explains.
Sekuru Chigogo has not been charging for his services, feeding his family through farming.
It was his long held belief that one day, somehow, his forefathers of the Seke Mutema clan would reward him.
His prediction was not far off.
Over the years, he used to dream about a place just behind his family compound in Doro village, in Mount Darwin.
In his dream, he says he would be shown mining activity and a voice would tell him to put the images to reality.
“I tried ignoring the dreams, but they kept coming back until I made consultations and was told that the place had riches which I was supposed to follow to change my family and community’s fortunes,” says Sekuru Chigogo.
At 63, he felt the revelation provided the best exit package from the hustle and bustle of trying to self-sustain as he ages.
In 2017, he began processes to ascertain whether whispers that dominated his sleep had any semblance of truth.
“I engaged my brother in Harare and he assisted me with insights,” he says. “We sought the relevant paperwork and we prospected. We then worked to get a mining licence from the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.”
Sekuru Chigogo was to take two years pushing to have his licensing, which was issued on March 23 this year.
“After my papers were ready, I sought the services of about 40 youths from around the area, they were eager to contribute to the project which was at the point promising,” he says.
Sekuru Chigogo named the mine Seke Mutema Mining Consortium, in recognition of his ancestors whom he credits for revealing the presence of gold deposits at the mine.
The fairytale was cut short when gold panners, after hearing of the new mine, descended upon it with no notice, barely two months after operations had begun.
In mining circles, it is known as “kuputika mari” which can be loosely translated to ‘an explosion of gold.’
When that phrase starts being used in reference of a mine or an area, it signifies trouble. Sekuru Chigogo’s case was not in any way different.
“My workers were attacked and the panners took over operations,” he says. “We were trying to run a professional mine, but these guys came and put everything to ruin, opening shafts using unrecommended methods.”
At his old age, and with very little resources, Sekuru Chigogo had to retreat.
But he is now an anxious man, the little equipment he had managed to source had to be taken off site in fear of vandalism by the marauding panners.
Repeated interactions with panners showed a potential of volatility and law enforcement advised that operations halt temporarily.
It has been a long wait, as Sekuru Chigogo wonders when he will return to operation. But he believes the panners could be sneaking in to empty his pot of gold.
“I am suspecting that there may be something happening at night,” says Sekuru Chigogo. “Whenever we come in the morning, we see signs that there was activity and we are worried that the panners could have devised ways to pilfer gold in the dead of the night.”
Sekuru Chigogo believes the panners he is dealing with are not just a group of people looking for their next loaf of bread, but a well-coordinated syndicate with resources.
“These panners, I doubt if they are ordinary people looking for a quick buck,” he says. “Some of them tried to go as far as obtaining a mining license for the mine. Luckily, the authorities refused to accept that.”
The panners have also left him facing a possible legal predicament.
“The Environmental Management Agency came to assess the mine and said they are going to penalise me for the shafts which were left by the panners,” says Sekuru Chigogo.
“I am here wondering how that is possible.”
Besides the prejudice he is claiming to be suffering due to the inactivity, his social life has reportedly disintegrated into shambles.
“Some of the panners are children we grew up giving fruits from our garden,” says Sekuru Chigogo. “To hear them threaten me in broad daylight is painful.”
In his old age, Sekuru Chigogo does not have material resources to afford complex legal processes needed to fight a battle like his.
Now, he is hoping his equipment is released, so he can return to work and fulfil his ancestral obligation.
It was a gruelling two years pushing to get the papers, when they finally got a breakthrough; panners emerged to throw spanners in the works.
Is there a silver lining for the man who is just two years under his retirement age or he has to forgo his ancestral gift?