A strange incident in the summer of 1981 in La Rochelle near Mutare, Zimbabwe was witnessed by twenty people and would include an apparent close encounter with the group’s foreman. Several other witnesses also saw parts of the incident from their various positions in the vicinity. In fact, many found it so frightening that they took their children and left their homes looking for shelter in the surrounding woodland.
While it certainly ticks all the boxes for a UFO sighting and close contact with its apparent occupants, many of the witnesses, including the main witness, would state their belief that the encounter was one more in line with ghosts and the supernatural as opposed to alien beings from space. Many believed the incident was an encounter with their ancestors, possibly a “lost spirit” searching for home. That something happened that evening is without doubt. What it might have been is the question.
A “Ball Of Fire” Climbing The Building!
At a little after 6 pm on the 15th August 1981, under the grey, overcast skies of La Rochelle, twenty field workers, led by their foreman, Clifford Muchena, were returning to the estate ready to return home for the night. However, in full view of each one of them, a “ball of fire” around a meter in diameter moved with alacrity and “bounce” across the huge, green lawns of the grounds.
Some of the witnesses would claim to see the animated ball climb the walls of the control tower. When it entered the room at the top, moving around inside, it would give the impression that the building was ablaze. Some would even state to seeing “flames coming out of the window”. After several moments, it left the control tower, “rolling” back down the building, and across the lawn, heading towards the tearooms of the estate. Incidentally, it would leave no burn or scorch markings on its route. And even more interesting, when the tower was examined later, no damage was noticed at all.
Muchena would speak of the encounter to Cynthia Hurd for MUFON UFO Journal in May 1983. Although he didn’t witness the glowing ball in the control tower, he would state that “I saw a ball of light near the tearoom from my house nearby. Then everyone started seeing it. It was very big, and it rolled towards the tearoom”.
He immediately ran towards the warning bell, believing an outbreak of flames was imminent. As he did so, ringing the bell as loud as he could, the strange ball rolled past him and climbed the exterior of the “Fantasy” building. Once more, it entered the room at the top and gave a sudden appearance of a raging fire.
Clifford followed. Then, he saw the strange figures.
“There Was Power From Them!”
As he watched the “flames” at the top of the “Fantasy” building, he noticed three figures seemingly watching them also. He at first thought one of them was his supervisor, Mr. Andrew Connolly, who had come to see what the matter was. So sure, was he, that he called his name out loud. Then the three figures began to turn around. Slowly.
He would recall how they donned “shiny whitish overalls” and that he “couldn’t see their faces because it was shining so much light I had to put my hands up to shield my eyes”. As he did so, he suddenly, and uncontrollably, fell down on his knees. He felt paralyzed and beyond frightened. He would later recall, “There was a power (coming) from them”.
As there was “too much light” in his eyes, he kept them covered and shut tight. When he dared to open them again, the three men and the ball of light were gone. No flames were licking at the sides of the buildings. Everything, it would seem, was back to normal.
When he was asked if he thought it was people from another world Clifford would reply that he believed the incident was a ghostly encounter. He would tell Hurd, “I think it might have been the spirits of my ancestors”. When he was asked why they were dressed in such shiny clothing, he simply replied that “times change”.
It is certainly an interesting perception of the encounter, and one we will look at a little more shortly. However, if we accept the claims of advanced and unknown civilizations in pre-history, then perhaps such “futuristic” clothing might fit with Clifford’s ancestral theory.
A Connection Between Supernatural And Extraterrestrial Encounters?
Like many other parts of the world, La Rochelle and the surrounding countries have their share of legends and folklore. Many present that evening in La Rochelle would state the encounter was with a “shavi” – a spirit who is lost and looking to find their way home. And, according to legend and tradition, the reason such spirits exist is that their own descendants had not followed certain practices following their death.
According to many local legends, upon death, the deceased family should prepare a large feast and certain, specific ceremonies should take place. Other members of the family and friends of the deceased should also contribute food and offerings to the feast. If these ceremonies do not take place, then the spirit of the deceased will return to “remind their family of their obligations”. Essentially, they will haunt them.
Another belief is that a person’s head should face towards their home upon death. This, so that their spirit will be able to find its way back there and ultimately dwell in peace. Again, failure to do this will result in the spirit remaining restless. Roaming the land and haunting those who should have carried out such duties.
Interestingly enough, strange “nocturnal lights” – what many today would refer to us UFOs – also figure heavily in much African folklore. These glowing orbs in the night sky are the ghosts of the deceased. The spirits are the victims of a “sorcerer or witch” before leaving this realm. The one who trapped the spirit can then use it for its “evil ambitions”.
Do such legends have merit? And might such supernatural phenomena and extraterrestrial encounters share more ground that we think?
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