Paul Damasane, Zimbabwe Sunday News
THE Yoruba, an ethnic group that hails from Nigeria, have a saying that goes; “The witch cried yesterday and the child died today, who does not know that it was the witch that cried yesterday that killed the child who died today.”
It is therefore common around us that blame for everything or rather causality of all things evil is ascribed to some power beyond simple human explanation.
It is in the same vein that superstition and witchcraft play a very strong role in dealing with life and its vicissitudes.
Witchcraft is also dismissed as ignorant superstition or fear of the unknown. The practitioners and their victims are dismissed as those who believe in powers that simply do not exist.
Sometimes belief in the dark arts is attributed to mass poverty and state failure to “modernise” the outlook especially of people living in the rural areas.
It is argued that if people were better educated and had access to adequate healthcare they would understand that illness is caused by germs and not witchcraft.
But these explanations miss the biggest point. They fail to place witchcraft within the persistent African worldview.
Belief in witchcraft is part and parcel of the moral universe as understood in African Traditional Religion. Contrary to popular belief, African Religion is still alive and well.
In African religious thought, the universe created by God ought to be harmonious, balanced and good. But mysterious evil powers exist that disrupt this order.
Evil originates not merely from the breaking of taboos and other laws, but from spiritual, mystical powers at work in the universe. Witchcraft is therefore central to the understanding of morality and ethics among Africans.
In the African world view, everything wrong or bad in society and in the world, and most particularly various afflictions, originates in witchcraft.
There is no kind of illness or hardship at all that may not ultimately be attributed to witchcraft.
In the past few weeks one Zimbabwean football team blamed its female medic for its poor performance on the field of play.
The problem was not just that the medic was female but that, the team believed (or rather believes) that their performance is not just a matter of playing soccer and athletic ability but there is always supernatural intervention.
True you may call that superstition but hold your horses a little and seek rather to understand why they think so. Ruling it out as superstition even to the Christian critic is to me the peak of naivety.
Allow me to explain that to the footballer, the game of football is his life and therefore is intertwined with his spirituality. In some cases it is a fight for survival as one gets one’s personal sustenance through it. While you get your bread from the pay cheque at the end of the month, he or she gets it from the end of the game and the size is determined by the score margin. So it is a war.
One cannot altogether in the human level determine the outcome of the match, but resort to a higher authority or power is the best. You may pray to Jesus like I would but maybe the said team draws power through the use of other forms.
If they are directed in the realm of African medicine whose premise could be a combination of alchemy and spiriticism there would be different requirements.
Especially mentioned in the Bible is the period of uncleanness of the woman because of things like her cycle among other things. There is consensus that contact with the opposite sex at certain times has a contaminating effect. Back to the football subject we had earlier. If the boys have been treated for the game which is like giving them a steroid or performance enhancer, only that at this time it is operational at a spiritual level, they might be cautioned on certain things one of which could be the closeness to the opposite sex — women in this case.
It is believed that women have this softening and weakening effect on a man especially if it is at close range. Read a little bit more on sexology and you will get to understand the presence of some chemical during sexual arousal that results in extra relaxation or sleep.
Through no fault of theirs, women are believed to have more instances of uncleanness than man as mentioned above.
So there you are, a powerful footballer, oseqinisiwe ngethusothile who then is administered a massage or muscle stretch by a female physiotherapist, unknown to the player the woman is on her cycle. Bang — the performance enhancer is then disabled.
Let us go a little deeper by using a simple example, an individual who takes medication and simultaneously imbibes alcohol may worsen his state, equally one who takes some medication on an empty stomach exposes one’s self to complications. Now it is simple to accept it when western medicine is used because you value the said form of science. In actual fact it is the same principle.
Women tend to be more malleable to the spiritual and yet they do not lose their femininity that is why they are easily viewed as impediments when they are not. So can a woman affect your performance in battle like situations? The answer is in the affirmative.
I close this discussion today with a provocative question. Why is it that women are said to be witches more than men? Are they really disruptive of life or is it their fate or God destined role?
Let us find out if it is true that women have a greater propensity to witchcraft or is it because men are the priests and the oracles! I cherish your responses or interventions. Till next Sunday.