Excerpt from the diary of a Pfimbi Yemashoko member found in the archives, classified under the Red Clay period.
Diary entry 86
I have just been informed that I will be going out on assignment to do preliminary research in Northern Zimbabwe. This will be my first solo trip to Nyakayembiza. To be quite frank, I am surprised that I'm being sent out on my own as protocol usually dictates that a larger team investigate any potential events. This reinforces to me that this might not be anything at all. I will pack light; I probably won't be there long anyway.
Cocoons have apparently risen out of the dust at Siwe's red clay pits. As a disused mine, this is quite a mysterious occurrence that seemingly is impossible. Once we, at Pfimbi Yemashoko heard of the phenomena in Nyakayembiza, we suspected it could possibly be a Pidgin event. I have been sent here to collect samples, document and record this happening in the hopes of learning more.
Rumour has it that these pits were the site of Pidgin's origin or birth, if that is to be believed. It is spoken about often by the people who live in the area, usually in hushed tones, as though to whisper it would not make it actually real. We cannot be sure though as all the evidence and material that we have gathered to this point is either hearsay or is speculative around the idea that Pidgin has made an appearance.
The clay pits are now abandoned but no one can quite recall how long for at this point. The ledgers and records that we archived from the last mining company that extracted clay here aren't a clear and reliable source. At first, we thought that they had obtained some sort of damage from poor storage as the writing was illegible, but upon further inspection by our scientists, the ink had not been smudged as we had thought. There seemed to be some sort of substance, believed to be a remnant of a mineral deposit, the composition of which has not been conclusive as yet. This residue has stained the pages red,making the words unclear and therefore hard to understand.
Nonetheless, we have enough secondary sources to know that Siwe's red clay pits shut down very suddenly and there has not been much record as to the actual cause of cessation. From what we have gathered, the mine was abruptly abandoned as all the workers went on strike and refused to return to work. We have documented accounts that say when in the mines they were inflicted with IzwiRakabiwa, the curse of the stolen voice. They would call to each other or sing to pass the time as they worked but they would never hear the response of their echoes. Every sound they made was met with a blunt, heavy and haunting silence, as though being absorbed by the walls. Apparently, paranoia ran rampant and the mine workers refused to speak when in the mines, slowing down the working process.
This behaviour then carried over into their lives outside of the mine.A silence seemed to befall Nyakayembiza. Of course, this led to a growing undercurrent of hysteria in the area. This was the first recorded instance of Pfimbi Yemashoko sending one of our members to the site. Their research however was inconclusive as there was not race of Pidgin having been here at that time.Nevertheless, the mere rumour has made the site look and feel as though it were a catacomb.
Pidgin's appearance here is undeniable. These cocoons have been a recent development in the landscape of the area. The earth is not packed and hardened here. Each step brings forth a light plume of red dust. I fear the more I try to remove it, the more it leaves its trace on my clothing, hands and on these pages as I write. As opposed to the absences of sound that have been previously documented,the opposite stands true here. Sounds emanate from the cocoons and I cannot be sure where it emanates from exactly as its source is unidentifiable at this point. Nothing is distinctly discernible within the dissonance but there is something within this place that feels familiar and wholly unfamiliar at the same time.
I will be the first to admit that I have been wrong, overly sceptical even. I believe that perhaps Pidgin is trying to finally communicate.It begs the question, when did Pidgin come here and why are they reaching out now? Did Pidgin ever leave or have they always been here?
I called out to the void and I did not hear myself but I felt as though I was being watched, seen. I am excited and yet at the same time apprehensive. There is a lot for us to learn from Pidgin but are we ready for what it could all mean?
Text by Precious Mhone