Posts Tagged ‘Africa’

Craft Brewery

May 20, 2017

If you’re gonna go on a witch hunt, you obviously don’t want to do a half-assed job: you wanna deploy the finest witch-hunting expertise available.  Which means you gotta go back to the roots, to Africa, where the craft began.

Chief Pembamoyo of the Chewa-speaking people of Vubwi district in Eastern Province has warned his subjects against preventing their children from attending school [so that they can participate in] witchcraft training and practice.  The chief says it is sad to learn that many parents and guardians in his chiefdom are encouraging their children into witchcraft rather than going to school.

Chief Pembamoyo said that he has directed his Indunas (subchiefs) to investigate more such cases and that anyone found lacking will face the wrath of the law.  Induna Chikoka admitted that such cases were on an increase in his area.  He said that last week the Vubwi district traditional court had imposed a fine of two goats on a man whose 10-year-old son confirmed that his father had sent him to witchcraft practice rather than to school.


The phenomenon of witch-hunts in Africa is ancient, but the problem is reportedly on the rise due to urbanization, poverty, social conflict and fragmenting communities.  In Congo, it is estimated that there are 25,000 homeless children living on the streets of Kinshasa.  More than half (60%) were expelled from their homes because of allegations of witchcraft. However, there is often an economic motive behind the claim of sorcery:  in traditional African societies, a suspicion of witchcraft is the only justifiable reason for refusal to shelter a family member, no matter how distant the relation.

Evangelical pastors are helping to create this new campaign of violence against young Africans. Self-styled pastors and prophets, greedy for cash, teach their parishioners that many problems they are facing —poverty, joblessness, financial crisis, sickness or poor harvest— are all caused by a witch-child hiding in their families. The superstitious parents then try to guess which of their six, seven or eight children is a witch.  The suspected children are forced through torture to confess that they are witches. Those children are severely beaten, cast out of their homes, mutilated or killed. All of this is due to a blend of Christianity and native paganism that has been brought inside the church.


Perhaps the contemporary meaning of this timeless parable will become clearer to you after a suitable period of sober reflection and introspection.  Or maybe not.



Boyz In The Boat

January 25, 2015


Congratulations to Edgar Chagwa Lungu (no relation to your humble correspondent) on his election as 6th President of Zambia.  To win the election with 48% of the vote, Lungu overcame factional infighting within his own political party (the Patriotic Front), the hostility of certain media magnates in Zambia, and torrential rains which delayed voting in some parts of the country.


His principal opponent was Hakainde Hichilema, one of Zambia’s 0.1%:

Hakainde Hichilema is a millionaire and the second-largest cattle rancher in Zambia.  An economist and businessman, he served as the CEO of both Coopers and Lybrand Zambia (1994-1998) and Grant Thornton Zambia (1998-2006).  He is a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.  In December 2014, Hichilema denied being a freemason, saying that those accusing him were malicious. He also sued Bishop Edward Chomba of the Orthodox Church for defamation after the Bishop called him a satanist and a freemason.

It’s not clear which was considered more defamatory: being a satanist or a freemason.

Despite all the heat and harsh words, the election was conducted in a generally peaceable fashion. Lungu won clear majorities in six of Zambia’s ten provinces: Eastern; Northern; Copperbelt; Luapala; Lusaka, and Muchinga.  Hichilema swept the western provinces: Southern, Western, and Northwestern.  He also won in Central Province. Vote suppression tactics were rather subtle by African standards:

Lions in Siavonga‘s Namomba district have scared away many voters in the area, Snike Mzulah reported.  Residents in the area have chosen to stay indoors for fears of the lions.  Senior village headman Mulopa of Namomba area confirmed the news.


Of course, this being Africa, the question in everyone’s mind is: “who sent the lions?”  Since Siavonga is a Hichilema stronghold, perhaps it was Robert Mugabe.

High-Hanging Fruit

November 9, 2014

Unless you care about Africa, you probably haven’t heard much news about Zambia recently. Snugly ensconced in the South-Central neighborhood of Earth’s sunlit Dark Continent, landlocked Zambia hasn’t been afflicted with/affected by the Ebola epidemic, and thus is of little current interest to media fearmongers. Although President Michael Sata died ten days ago in a London hospital after a long illness, the cause of death was widely believed to be cancer rather than a virulent infectious disease.  News of his passing was briefly mentioned in big-city U.S. news outlets, but the media spotlight on Africa –such as it is– quickly shifted back to Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Meanwhile, in Africa, life –and death– goes on:

An 86-year-old woman in Itezhi tezhi District of [Zambia’s] Central Province has died after a pawpaw fruit fell on her head.  The deceased –identified as Kalumbu Mundunga— was sitting under a pawpaw tree in Lilanda Township when the incident occurred.  She died instantly.  Central Province Police chief Standwell Lungu confirmed the incident, which happened on Thursday morning around 09:45 hours.  [Lunghu’s note: this is the day of November’s full moon. Just sayin’.]

The death was reported by her grandson Cephas Kambeu.  A postmortem will be conducted to establish cause of death.

Here in the United States, there might be two schools of thought about this unusual manner of demise.  Suspicious minds might wonder whether whether grandson Cephas bopped Granny Mundunga upside the head with a 2×4 and then placed a large unripe pawpaw fruit beside the corpse.  Thus the coroner’s postmortem: a British colonial tradition.  More trusting souls would merely lament the tragedy and point out what might seem obvious: if Isaac Newton had been seated beneath the shady canopy of a pawpaw, today’s Europeans would have no Theory of Gravity.


In Africa, these crude binary options clearly lack the necessary subtlety that provides true explanatory power.  Where there’s an effect, there must also be a cause.

Meanwhile, investigations into the burning death of an 80-year-old woman in Itezhi tezhi District have continued.  Esily Mulilo of Lazo Village was burnt beyond recognition in the incident, which happened around 02:30 hours on Monday.  [According to police sources,] unknown people set her house ablaze after tying her door closed with wires.  Police have suggested that the deceased could have been suspected of practicing witchcraft.



Traditional African societies understand that recourse to street justice is a perilous undertaking.  If someone is unjustly accused and wrongly punished, omnipresent spiritual forces (if properly invoked) will ensure that harm and retribution rebounds upon those who perpetrated the injustice –or their clansmen.  Viewed through this lens, the “accidental” death of Kalumbu Mundunga might prompt an additional question in suspicious African minds: had Cephas Kambeu or his kinfolk been playing with matches in Lazo Village just a few nights earlier?  Perhaps Esily Mulilo wasn’t actually a witch … or, on the other hand, maybe she was powerful enough to take revenge from beyond the grave.  There are many possibilities in Africa, and many opportunities for oblique, guarded discussions about the invisible configurations of the spirit world.  It’s what makes life interesting.