Thursday, June 14, 2012

Naked Witchcraft Menace Strikes Zimbabwe

If I had come up with activities that most disturb the peace in African countries, witchcraft and nakedness would probably be at the top of the list. The taboos surrounding nudity do vary quite a bit by country, but witchcraft is pretty much universally condemned however it is (or, in the case of those falsely accused, is not) practiced. Western schools of witchcraft such as Wicca are famous for conducting "skyclad" rituals in the nude, but apparently nakedness is also part of certain African traditions as well. Recently two naked women were apprehended in Zimbabwe. They reportedly confessed that they were witches seeking human flesh, apparently for use in some sort of ritual.

Mashonaland West provincial police spokesperson Inspector Clemence Mabgweazara identified the suspects as Rosemary Kamanga (48) and Esnath Maodza (56), both of Shackleton compound about 20km from Chinhoyi. Police said the informant, Eneresi Mufunga (55), of Shackleton, was awakened around 4am by strange noises that resembled fighting dogs. When she went outside to investigate, she found two naked women and quizzed them on their mission.

Mabgweazara said the pair allegedly told Mufunga that they had fallen off a winnowing basket (rusero) on their way from a nearby compound in Alaska. They further told the woman that they wanted flesh from her. Mufunga raised alarm and alerted her neighbours who rushed to the scene baying for the duo’s blood. According to eyewitnesses, the incident ignited a frenzy in the usually sleepy former mine compound. Ironically, the suspects’ husbands were among the crowd and upon seeing their naked wives, they whisked them to safety before taking them home where they were later clothed.

A report was made at Murereka Police Post leading to their arrest. Mabgweazara said when interviewed by police, the women confessed to practicing withcraft. “They confessed to be witches and indicated they were coming from Alaska in a rusero and decided to get some human flesh at the informant’s house,” Mabgweazara said.

The story really make me wonder, since it amazes me that anyone would behave in the manner reported by this informant. Let's think about it - if I were a witch and in the process of breaking into someone's compound in order to obtain human flesh for a magical working, what would my explanation be if I were discovered by a resident? It certainly wouldn't be "Oh, hi there. I'm a witch. Can I have some of your flesh? Please?" In the United States that translates to "Call the police right now" and in Africa it pretty much means "Please kill me. In fact, call all of your neighbors to help." I mean, wouldn't anybody with half a brain make up something else?

Given that Africa has a such a long and extensive history of witchcraft persecution, it seems to me that this informant should be investigated as well. Perhaps she has some sort of grudge against the accused and just managed to catch them in an embarrassing situation.

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