Norman Chavasa


Although femicide perpetrated by adult sons and daughters against their biological mothers is not a new phenomenon in the Shona communities of Zimbabwe, the problem has escalated significantly in recent years. In response, this study focuses on kutanda botso (ritual cleansing to appease the aggrieved spirit of the deceased biological mother) a ritual process taken up by adult sons or daughters who disrupt the social norm. They have been taught not to verbally abuse, assault or kill as they will suffer the consequences of an avenging spirit. An analysis shows that kutanda botso has a dual role: Firstly, the fear of negative consequences deters the possible perpetrators from such acts of violence. Secondly, it symbolizes the social values of motherhood by extolling and venerating it as an important and admirable position that should be treated with reverence and respect. Mothers deserve to live in nonviolent spaces and social relationships. This research concludes that femicide which targets biological mothers is complex and overwhelming. It requires a solution that involves more than law enforcement agencies and one that appeals to not only human cognition but also tradition.