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Superstition entraps Zimbabwean minds

Very few people in Zimbabwe have come across the term penis captivus, but almost everyone has come across the word runyoka. The two expressions describe the same condition namely, “a rare occurrence in heterosexual intercourse when the muscles in the vagina clamp down on the penis much more firmly than usual, making it impossible for the penis to withdraw from the vagina.” (Wikipedia)

From the Editor’s desk by Nevanji Madanhire

The condition was reported in the British Medical Journal in 1979 by Dr F Kräupl Taylor. He concluded that the condition existed but “almost all the cases mentioned in medical publications and in textbooks are based on hearsay and rumour”. His conclusion of the existence of the condition was however based on two papers published by two 19th century German gynaecologists who had personally dealt with cases of the condition.

Kräupl Taylor concluded the cases by two gynaecologists left in him “no doubt about the reality of this unusual symptom” but continued to say the condition however, “is so rare that it is often regarded nowadays as no more than a prurient myth”.

One of the gynaecologists described how his patient who had always had intercourse normally with his partner narrated the experience:

“He reported that just at the moment when he thought intercourse, which had been quite normal till then, had come to an end, he suddenly felt that he, or rather his glans [organ], was held back deep in the vagina, tightly gripped and imprisoned, while his whole penis was in the vagina. All attempts at withdrawal failed. When he forced the attempts, he caused severe pain to himself and his wife. Bathed in perspiration through agitation, alarm and his failure to free himself, he was finally forced to resign himself to waiting in patience. He could not say how many minutes this lasted, his imprisonment seemed endless. Then — the hindrance vanished on its own; he was free.”

Perhaps it is the rarity of the condition that has spurned all the myths around penis captivus in Zimbabwe linking it to black magic. What is very interesting is Dr Kräupl Taylor’s observation that most reports are based on hearsay and rumour. We have head a handful cases reported in Harare but no one has ever confirmed that he or she personally witnessed the occurrence. News about it is almost always second hand as in, “My neighbour told me he had been told by a friend who had personally seen it.”

Zimbabweans believe that a husband can lock his wife using black magic in such a way that if she has sexual intercourse with another man they won’t be able to separate. Street lingo in Zimbabwe calls this “durawalling”. Durawall was originally a trade name for a locally-made precast concrete wall but now has become a generic name for all perimeter walls. Almost everyone in Zimbabwe believes in “durawalling” which scares the daylights out of all men inclined towards adultery, yet it may in fact be “no more than a prurient myth”.

Zimbabweans are such a superstitious lot that any rare occurrence is quickly explained as black magic. That black magic exists cannot be dismissed entirely; it is practised right across the globe whether it’s in western capitals, in the jungles of the Barbados (voodoo) or in sangoma dens in South Africa, but it has not had the same petrifying effect on the whole national psyche as it has in Zimbabwe.

In a world of nanotechnology; in which science has gone so far to explain all sorts of phenomena, in an information age in which people communicate in real time like magic across impossible distances, Zimbabweans think that snakes can rob banks. Any successful businessman is looked at with suspicion as someone who owns some supernatural object he uses to steal money from banks. Not only that, but some people go about masquerading as prophets who can make automated teller machines spew wads of notes of the greenback at the command of a prayer! Recently we have had rumours about buses and vans that talk and grinding mills that ask their operators to give them a rest. This means the omnibus that brought you to church today may not have been running on an engine but on the back of some superhuman life called a tokoloshe.

Last week the country was bound in a spell by a bomb that went off in Chitungwiza. The story was too juicy to attribute it to a simple bomb: the scene of the incident was the residence of a n’anga/sangoma/witchdoctor, the dramatis personae were the n’anga himself and a businessman in the transport sector, the climax was the demise of both and a few others who constituted collateral damage. The conclusion was that the businessman was consulting the n’anga so he could either, through black magic, enhance his business or was trying to dispose of a troublesome charm or was trying to destroy a rival. The explosion was the result of either the charm refusing to be destroyed, or the rival was too powerful magic-wise to be destroyed, etc.

The complication of the whole episode was a supine authority (the police) that would not release a preliminary report of findings; and a complicity Press that fed the speculation, rumour and hearsay that reigned supreme for a whole week.
Even when the 24-year-old man at the centre of the whole episode turned out to be a simple crook who masqueraded as a prophet at night and sorcerer during the day conning people of their hard-earned money, people remained enthralled by the power of the explosion which they concluded was unnatural.

But why is the Zimbabwean mind so superstitious? A simple explanation would be the all-pervasive poverty engulfing the nation. Why is this explanation valid? Most, if not all the stories fuelling the belief in supernatural phenomena are to do with hunting for money. People follow churches in pursuit of riches; they also consult n’angas in pursuit of the same. This proves true the adage, “Money is the root of all evil.”

What has happened to good old-fashioned hard work? Money can only be acquired through an individual’s enterprise and hard work. There cannot be shortcuts; any attempts to acquire wealth through magic or criminality usually have a bad ending as happened in the Chitungwiza case where it is now known with certainty the victims were handling a bomb, trying to extract something from it.

But at what point in time is Zimbabwe going to make the transition from the belief in witchcraft to science, which switch most of the world has already made?

19 Responses to Superstition entraps Zimbabwean minds

  1. squarebasher January 27, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

    My advice:

    If for instance you run a transport business then you need to make sure that all your vehicle are serviced according to the specifications of the Manufacturer. Kwete kuramba mota ichingo kwenya as long as ichiunza mari.

    And nyaya yekuchaya mari inege yauya nadriver nemabhebhi then you are left with no money to buy spare parts.Well how can this magic create wealth for you on dead cars.

    • SIMBI February 3, 2013 at 7:43 pm #


  2. Mambo January 27, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

    Munoenda kunotsvaka mari kunganga inofamba netsoka iwe uchibuda mu benz , hauoni kuti hazvina njere here.
    Bible rinoti munhu uchadya cheziya hapana chinopfuura shoko iri vanhu we.
    Hona manje zvaitika. Bomb kana sandawana mubairo ngeumwe chete.Tarira vana vadiki vasina mhosva vabatanidzirwa. Haa zvakaoma

  3. tindo January 27, 2013 at 6:42 pm #

    Black magic is there my brother.People are being killed by man made lightning.Tokoloshies are being sold in SA,Moza and elsewhere.You cant deny it but people should learn to work for their money.We now have fake prophets who seek juju from the north and make people pay claiming vana vaMwari.

  4. musoni January 27, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

    @ Editor, the press is promoting and perpertuating these myth.

  5. mtondwe chatumbama January 28, 2013 at 12:26 am #

    The Standard please ask saviour kasukuwere and his family , there can help you. Juju surely works. i live next to his family home in chief matopes areas in mt darwin, what i can tell you he has committed incest, ritual killings, 3 kids have dissapeared in the area. chief matope knows this but is scared to take these thugs on. the juju has helped his family accumulate wealth, power and money. the 3 kids who have disaapeared are known. visit chief matope area and ask, you get this information. i was at matope growth point on friday , and the story doing rounds was of a fire seen at the family home, apparently you see, the kasukuwere homestead is often engulfed in fire in broad daylight from time to time, ask anyone in the area. any investigative jornalists @ newsdayor zim in general should visit this area and investigate the strange happenings pamusha pa kasukuwere. a lion is seen walking on the yard sometimes, fires at night, strange juju really. i say yes juju exists and does help some of these pple to succeed. mishonga iriko varume, huya ku dharuweni kuno muzvioonere moga.

    • Ritchie Sauta January 30, 2013 at 10:08 pm #

      I think Mtondwe has jst crossed a line by accusing Tyson of what he just wrote on this wall. He can be arrested or sued or both. This is exactly what this story is discussing about. Superstition is th Oder of the day with Zimboz. Any one who makes money is accused of black magic. Now in everything you wrote Mtondwe there is nothing to suggest black magic by Tyson except abusing him and accusing him of witchcraft without linking him to any. To begin with how do you know that he committed incest? How, when, and where did he commit ritual killings? How do you know? How is he linked or how do you link him with the disappearance of the three kids. What are the names of those kids? Why did you not report that to the Police? Maybe you will say that you were afraid, then write the whole story on this wall and get the Police to work or use suggestion boxes, otherwise what you have just said can get you into trouble just like Andy Crainswick found out.

    • cde zibe February 7, 2013 at 11:47 am #

      Saviour aita sei ??????????? Mr editor pliz investigate in2 e issue its of national intresst

  6. Prayerful January 28, 2013 at 10:39 pm #

    Go back to Genesis and you will find that there in chapter 2-3, the first witchcraft was instituted by Satan, the great dragon, as described in the book of Revelation 12:3-10. Through witchcraft, and lies, he brought deception then, and continues to deceive the people Revelation 13:11-18 until the wonderful plan of salvation closes. That is how many people will be lost. Friends, witchcraft is real. What God fearing people do is to trust in God, and not in witchcraft. Other ordinary people prefer to stay in the middle and believe that there is no witchcraft. If you have been attacked (because you pray) by the devil you know what I am talking about, especially when you fear God and give glory to him. As a recipient of the Holy Spirit-the latter rain, the Lord revealed to me an evil spirit (more than once, one even attacked me in the church) that had come to attack me at 2 o’clock in the morning but the Holy Spirit song drove him away. On all occasions, because of the presence of the Holy Spirit, Satan was defeated. When you fear God and believe and are an active Christian, you will encounter these evil spirits as Jesus and the apostles did (Mark 1:23-27, Mark 9:19-29, Acts 28:1-9). The ten commandments have it right there-a warning about witchcraft, that is the worship of idols. That is why the devil tells people that the ten commandments were abolished because he knows that if people obey them, they will be warned about witchcraft. I recommend that fellow Zimbabweans rely on the word of God and have life more abundantly, rather than rely on witchcraft. The Old Testament in the bible is an account of the battle of the forces of good and forces of evil-or witchcraft, that is why the devil tells people not to read it. The Acts of the Apostles also tell us that when a church is full of the Holy Spirit, they will encounter evil spirits and defeat them. Read Mark 16:15-18. I hope that this information can be helpful to someone who is still in doubt.

  7. Bambo January 29, 2013 at 4:26 am #

    I found a you tube video about a man stuck inside another man’s wife during sex. Follow the link below, hope you are able to open and view the contents. Cheers!

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  11. KEKEKE_BOOM February 4, 2013 at 10:20 pm #

    Mr Editor I think wadzidza zvakanyanya wavemurungu. Rega ndikumbire sekuru Dzauranga vakusetere then we want to see your next article.

  12. Musorowegomo February 7, 2013 at 11:45 am #

    Never quote wikipedia as a source of reference

  13. Charle February 9, 2013 at 10:47 pm #

    a seasoned journalist/editor and you can’t even get a simple adage correct….it is the love of money, which is the root to all evil. your sub-editors are sleeping on the job

  14. Chinja 4life February 10, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

    Its all becoz of too much poverty and a lot of desperation to make a living and outright greed that most of us have. We have this desire to be better than everyone else such that we confuse our minds and end up locked in these superstitions. I hope one day we will come to our senses

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