One of my aunts is a drama queen. She is bubbly and energetic, and a storyteller of note. Whenever she is around, we all find ourselves surrounding her and listening to tale after tale of her adventurous life. She can take any incident and make it more hilarious than it actually was; more tragic than it was in actuality or more eventful. Whenever there is a party, she is the one who either is the director of ceremonies or gives the vote of thanks. She is our family spokesperson, our resident public speaker and our very own entertainer.
Environment By Thandekile Moyo
Sometime during my primary school years, she went with me to Plumtree, where my maternal grandmother still lives. We got there late at night and during the long walk home, she traumatised and fascinated me with sightings of ghosts and stories of witchcraft. I have never seen as many spooks as I did that day, for every light we saw, she would say was a ghost and some of these ghosts, she could actually identify.
She warned me not to make noise as we passed certain homesteads for there were witches there, she claimed. She went on to tell me horror stories of different people who had fallen prey to these evil monsters of the night. By the time we got to my grandmother’ house, I had been reduced to a quaking ball of fear, I was nothing, but a shell of my original self for she had murdered my innocent soul with the realisation that there is evil among us!
That was my first taste of how superstitious we are. Before that night, I had no idea that there was such a thing as witchcraft and the only ghost I knew was Casper, the friendly ghost from a cartoon programme on TV. Since that time I have had more exposure to that mind-set.
I have seen siblings hate each other over allegations of jealousy and sabotage empowered by the use of juju. I have read of children who kill their mothers after accusing them of being the reason why they are failing in their various endeavours in life. I know of grandchildren who are kept away from their grandparents for fear of being murdered or turned into zombies for prosperity. Just recently we heard the case of the young man from Bulawayo who killed his friend and sold his body parts, which are apparently in high demand in the dark world.
With the rise of apostolic churches across Africa, and that of witch-hunters, more and more people are being branded witches and forever alienated from their communities and loved ones.
This makes me wonder just how true the theories of witchcraft are. My mind just cannot conceive the idea that someone can attack me in the comfort of my own home, from the comfort of theirs; that I am in so much danger that I am unsafe everywhere; that my mother who gave birth to me and put me through school can one day decide she does not want to see me prosper; that my brother can be so jealous of me to the point of wanting to do away with me; that a workmate has the power to end my life, not through poisoning or straightforward murder, but through supernatural powers that can cause me to just drop down and die. My mind rejects violently the notion that some random woman can cause my handsome boyfriend who is smitten by me to all of a sudden stop loving me and start panting over her, all with a pinch of herbs.
That said, I have an open mind about the belief. The doubting Thomas in me needs proof though.
I find witchcraft fascinating. It shows me the extent of our imagination and my crazy mind cannot help, but think what if. I am tantalised by the question: What if there is a basis to all the stories of witchcraft? What if somewhere, in some village, deep in the heart of Chipinge is an old man, who knows how to harness and trap the energy in a single bolt of lightning? Better still, what if he has the recipe to make lightning and send it to a location of his choice?
What if in the beautiful hills of the Eastern Cape in South Africa, is a frail old woman, who knows how to modify the genetic composition of man, to the point of turning an able-bodied man into a cripple, without once coming into physical contact with him; or cause him to break out in unsightly sores the size of peaches!
What if there is someone somewhere who has the power to alter the mental state of a human being, destabilise the chemical composition of a brain, causing a sane man to suddenly, without warning, lose his mind?
Imagine if we found these people, and convinced them to teach us those technologies and use them to develop Africa!
If your grandmother can fly to New York and cause your cousin to have a miscarriage, surely the same technology can be used to fly everyone around.
If your uncle can make lightning, our electricity woes would be gone forever! He could just teach us to do the same and direct that energy straight into our power lines.
If your mother can cast bad luck curses on you, surely she can overwhelm our continent with unending bouts of good luck.
If you know someone who can send something to enter a human body hundreds of kilometres away and kill them instantly, that person has the recipe for Africa’s first weapons of mass destruction!
I strongly believe that if witchcraft is real, then it is a talent whose possibilities we cannot downplay. Seeing as witchcraft is passed on from generation to generation, why can’t we be the generation that puts it to good use?
If one can curse, surely they can bless. If one can cause illness, surely they can remove it. If one can destroy supernaturally, surely they must be able to build the same way.
Where were these witches, though, through all the years of slavery? Why did they not turn all those evil white men into zombies and relegate them to our farms? Where were they during colonisation? They could have burnt the camps of Cecil John Rhodes and his gang of bandits with just a few bolts of lightning.
Maybe it’s time we stop stigmatising witches, Africa probably needs them. For: What if witchcraft is our civilisation, only it is in the wrong hands!