Who goes to see the modern witchdoctor?

From yesterday’s Sunday Nation: Why many are falling for the jujuman’s charms

jujuFour Cabinet ministers are among thousands of Kenyans flocking to consult witchdoctors and fortune tellers, interviews with charm sellers and soothsayers reveal.

The witchdoctors promise a simple solution to all problems and desires, be it romance, career, health, an errant lover and even political power. They are doing such a roaring business that they advertise the potency of their charms in leading newspapers, such as the Daily Nation and the Sunday Nation.

Thanks to their services, many prominent Kenyans are therefore walking around wearing charms and talismans, some disguised as gold chains, amulets and bracelets.

Also putting their faith on talismans dispensed by fortune tellers and self-acclaimed astrologers are scores of MPs, businessmen and people with relationship problems, as extensive investigations by the Sunday Nation reveal.

Operating from various parts of the city including rooms in three-star hotel rooms, the charm sellers attract clients through advertisements and references. . .

. . . Sunday Nation could not find anyone willing to admit that they had consulted a witchdoctor. But the “doctors” said those flashy cufflinks, glasses, chains and gold rings could actually be charms.

Why many are falling for the jujuman’s charms

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Witchcraft and Albino body parts

Occasionally in the midst of talk on internet connectivity, politics, and traffic congestion, we get reminded that globalization affects even the darkest, most depraved parts of society. Following are excerpts from last week’s Crazy Monday feature of the Standard newspaper – deadly harvest of body parts. African Albinos have special sympathy from me because they are the only people I ever see whiter than me.

. . . The notion that human body parts can be used to heal or bestow special powers has caused panic among the albino community in Tanzania. The problem has reached such proportions that Tanzania’s President, Jakaya Kikwete, used his monthly television address to announce a crackdown on the traditional healers as well as plans to register albinos to improve their safety. “These killings are shameful and distressing to our society,” said Mr Kikwete in his Wednesday night speech to the nation. “I am told that people kill albinos and chop their body parts, including fingers, believing they can get rich.” Videos and films from Nigeria that tout the efficacy of witchcraft are widely to blame for the current crisis in Tanzania. . . . . . It later emerged that the Kenyan men had been sent by a traditional healer to collect body parts of an albino, which he claimed would make them fabulously wealthy. . . . During the qualifying preliminaries for the 2006 World Cup, it is claimed that hippos, lions, elephants and hyenas were slaughtered to make a potion for the Swaziland soccer team to give its footballers extra strength.

The whole story shows how depraved greed can become. UPDATE: NYTimes.com has picked up the story: Albinos, Long Shunned, Face Threat in Tanzania (8 June 2008 )

Marital conflict and sorcery

[From Yesterday’s Paper]

Residents of a Naivasha estate recently stumbled on hundreds of underpants and thousands of pictures belonging to locals in a case of suspected witchcraft.

Cats, lizards and other paraphernalia also found in a seer’s house left the locals in fear as word spread like a bushfire through the dusty town.

Both male and female under garments bound together with rotten eggs, razorblades and unidentified stuff littered the one-roomed house in Site estate.

Among the pictures found were those of well-known people in Naivasha town and shocked residents flocked to the house to find out if theirs were there. From the rich to touts and paupers, the pictures ranged from the latest photographic technology to old white and black pictures from the early 1980s.

. . . According to Martha Njoki, a neighbour, the owner of the house took off following the skirmishes that hit the area after the December elections.

“The violence took many by surprise including the owner of the room and he did not have enough time to pack his things,” says Njoki.

“He used to have visitors in the evenings and we thought that they probably came for prayers,” she adds.

She said that many thought the huge softly spoken man was a pastor as he always had a small wooden cross on his chest.

“He spent a lot of time outside the plot chatting with neighbours late into the evening when visitors would start streaming in,” she recalls.

. . . And as the family tries to search for the elusive answers, many in Naivasha are convinced that the so-called ‘preacher’ was indeed a sorcerer and was responsible for many broken marriages.

To read the full story, click here.

All I can say is that you never quite get what you expected when you bargain with the devil.