Home » General » Murehwa Catches On to Celebrations

“A prophet is honoured everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” — Mark 6 verse 4 reads. To the villagers of Manyangadze under Chief Mangwende in Murehwa, this biblical verse rings a loud bell.

At a time the whole world is awash with the news of the Siamese twins Kupakwashe and Tapiwanashe who were successfully separated in an operation stretching eight hours on July 1, villagers in this part of the country are hearing the story for the first time.

The twins’ birth at Murehwa District Hospital was kept a closely guarded secret.

Moses Chitiyo and his wife Agnes could not stomach the mystery of their children’s condition.

Yet gossip had it that the twins were joined in the head.

While the whole country is celebrating the successful separation of the conjoined (Siamese) twins, the people of Murehwa are still shocked that such a phenomenon happened to one of their own.

The reason, according to Mr Chitiyo, was all about the uncertainties associated with such a situation.

Although signs were there during the pregnancy, Mr Chitiyo and his wife Agnes never took it seriously hoping that the twin boys would be born normally.

“We knew we had twins when we went for scans. They had two distinctive heart beats but there was a doctor’s note that we did not understand. The scans indicated that there was no dividing embryo visible yet nothing was amiss during my wife’s pregnancy,” he said.

However, on April 22 this year, the twin boys were born at the local hospital.

The boys were joined from the lower chest to the upper abdomen and shared a liver.

“When the boys were born through the Caesarian section we were shocked. It just came as a surprise not only to us but even the hospital staff.

“The children were immediately transferred to Harare Hospital and we just waited for the worst,” he said.

But why keep the birth a secret?

Mr Chitiyo’s elder sister Elizabeth said the family was in shock. They were also afraid of the stigma from society.

“We were in pain as a family because there were no signs that anything like this would happen. We cried because as children whose parents died a long time ago we could not find an explanation,” she said.

Even the family members could not see the children who never left hospital since they were transferred from Murehwa.

Only the parents were allowed to see the children.

“We cried that such had occurred in our family. What made the situation worse is that we could not see the children.

“We, however, prayed for the twins’ survival daily,” she added.

Elizabeth concedes that keeping the children’s birth a secret was for their protection.

First the story was twisted with a lot of versions coming out of the streets.

Then other people pointed to witchcraft. The family did not despair.

They put their faith in God.

“People said many things following the twins’ birth. We are Christians and we believed that the hand of God would prevail in this situation,” she revealed.

The children’s birth was also news for the village head Mr Alexander Manyangadze.

“We are not aware of that. It’s a miracle. We are taking it as a wonder and it is all God’s intervention that the children survived the operation,” he said.

Sabhuku Manyangadze believes ancestors were responsible for the condition.

“I understand why they kept the birth a secret because of our traditional beliefs as Africans. I also understand that they did not need pressure from the outside world.

“Even the people who decided to operate on the twins were not supposed to be under pressure,” he said.

He added that the successful operation on the Siamese twins was good news to the community.

“It’s a miracle but we accept that it was through God’s grace that they were separated,” he said.

Sabhuku Manyangadze believes the children’s birth and their successful operation has put their community on the world map.

“It is rare to hear of a story of children who are born and are joined like that and this will definitely put us on the microscope. Even if they had died people would still have been interested in that story but we are happy the operation was successful and we hope for the best for the children,” he said.

As word of the children’s birth spread across the village, people made an effort to try and understand the situation.

Doubting Thomases even approached journalists for confirmation.

Mrs Sipiwe Chinakamakumbo Kamoto believes God’s hand played a major role in the birth and subsequent separation of the twins.

“This is not the first time we have heard of such a case but we are happy God intervened and the children survived,” she said.

Her husband Lancelot said there was however need for Government and its partners to assist the family.

Mr Chitiyo is a vegetable vendor at Murehwa Centre while his wife is unemployed.

The couple, that has two other children, lives in a single rented room at the centre.

“There is need to assist this family in their time of need and those children require proper care. We hope they get all the support that is necessary,” he said.

The children’s separation broken new ground in the country’s medical history with a team of 50 surgeons, doctors, nurses and their supporting staff working on the eight-hour delicate procedure at Harare Children’s Hospital.

The twin boys are still admitted at Harare Central Hospital where they are recuperating from the surgery.

Siamese twins result from either fission, in which the fertilised egg splits partially or fusion, in which a fertilised egg completely separates but stem cells search for similar cells on the other embryo and fuse the twins.

So rare are conjoined twins that their occurrence is estimated to range from 1 in 50 000 births to 1 in 200 000 births in the world.

The overall survival rate for conjoined twins is approximately one in four.

They are known as “Siamese twins” after the famous pair of Chang and Eng Bunker from Siam, now Thailand.

The only known local operation on Siamese twins was a “very minor” one successfully done at the same hospital in the 80s.

Zimbabwe has had five documented cases of conjoined twins since independence and only one was referred outside the country, while in two instances the babies died before surgery.

Source : The Herald