The Mystery of Sorcery and Warlockry

I watched the infamous trending documentary on BBC Africa Eye that highlighted on Night Runners. Never before has my intelligence quotient been insulted after watching the narrative. The purported night runners claimed that the night running activity was something passed down to them by their parents who were also passed on to by their parents. They claimed it was generational. All they do is wait for night fall and instead of laying in their beds for sound sleep, they would run to their neighbors’ houses with their own urine in bottles and then pour it round the houses. They would also cause screeching of the iron sheet roofs using dry sticks. As if that is not miniature enough, they would lift soil from the ground and pour it on the roof of the houses of innocent neighbors. How is that even contributing to their physical growth, let alone their economic and social empowerment? Their reason would be, ‘It was passed down to us by our parents and grandparents.’ One man made me stop watching the documentary to the end when he started narrating how his body begins to shake at night as indication that he should be running.

Night Runner in a bizarre tree climbing exercise.

It is always amusing and gob-smacking to hear that a couple was romping and then got stuck together and remain so until an old woman with juju or what we call jojuogi in Luo, comes to their aid to separate them. It is always laughable. Well, that is a scientific phenomenon known as penis captivus. clearly puts it this way:

“For penis captivus to occur, a series of events during sex must take place. The penis, which fills with blood during an erection, may continue to grow in size before orgasm. The vagina’s walls, which are made of muscular tissue, expand and contract during sex. The muscles inside the vagina may pulse slightly during an orgasm, too. On occasion, the vaginal muscles may contract more than typical. These contractions can narrow the vaginal opening. This narrowing could prevent a man from removing his penis, especially if he’s still engorged and erect. After orgasm, the vaginal muscles will begin to relax. If the man also reaches orgasm, the blood will begin to drain from his penis, and the erection will ease. You may be able to remove the penis from the vagina as these events occur. Penis captivus is one manifestation of vaginismus. Vaginismus is a strict contraction of the vagina’s muscles that is so strong, the vagina essentially closes itself.”

That was beside the point, but it is still a point. It beats logic and scientific reasoning, the role of witch doctors on penis captivus.

A fortnight ago I paid Mum a visit. It is always re-assuring and thrilling to have conversations with her. And so one thought led to another and it happened that she narrated to me an ordeal I underwent at the age of 4 months back in the early 90’s. (Lest you disrespect me, I am old.)

I will narrate the story in her words for the avoidance of any omissions:

“So, we had gone together with your dad to pay a visit to your grandparents. It was such an exciting moment to travel to the countryside with our first child. The hair on your head needed to be shaved by your grandmother. Our arrival stirred all manner of excitement as all your cousins wanted to hold you up and make all sorts of funny faces at you so that you could smile back. It was all jubilation since the moment we arrived. Two merry days lapsed and we had to go visit some distant relatives just nearby.

‘Do not go anywhere with that child!’ your grandmother retorted as I held you lovingly on our way. ‘My son! Listen to your mother! Do not go anywhere with the baby!’ Your grandmother again repeated to your father but we proceeded anyway. We spent a day at the relative’s place and it just as warm a welcome as it was in our home. I did not notice or felt any indication of imminent harm on you.

On our arrival home, your grandmother had a spot where she used to sit just outside her hut. On seeing us, she stood upright with her hands akimbo as she watched us approach and repeatedly told us ‘Welcome!’

That night was the beginning of days on end of lack of food, sleep, comfort and peace of mind. As you were suckling playfully, you stopped all of a sudden and lay lifeless on my arms. That was so unusual. I immediately alerted your dad and he came closer to check on you. I noticed in the dim light of the kerosene lamp that you were immensely sweaty. Your dad affirmed that when he felt your forehead literally burning. I was scared. In a nick of time your grandmother appeared. She was distressed as she endlessly blamed your father and myself for not listening to her when she said we shouldn’t have left for the relative’s place. She immediately poured water into a huge sufuria and tossed a coin in the sufuria. The coin simultaneously knocked the walls of the sufuria in a rhythmic pattern. I later learnt that, that meant you had been bewitched by ‘evil eyes’. I was enraged.

You were then undressed and put down on the floor as we watched you helplessly. I kept nagging and blaming everybody for being a witch until I was whisked away. No sooner had they locked me out, than I found my way again in through one of the hut’s windows. I saw what I have never seen to this day. Your grandmother was wiping your tiny body with a wet towel and I could see all manner of items dropping from your body. It was horrendous. Items ranging from charcoal, gravel, sugarcane husks and small shiny metals. I screamed to the top of my lungs. I walked to where you lay amidst holding backs from all your uncles and aunties. I carried you tightly as I shouted that they could not kill my child for me under my watch. I walked out with you covered in my blouse and my destination was a hospital.

They had coincidentally called for an ambulance and I boarded it regardless of the restraints by the medical personnel. Your dad and grandfather followed after me. You still lay on my arms lifeless and the only thing that gave me hope was your gentle breathing. I cried sore all the way to Nyabondo Hospital. As we waited for our turn to be attended to, I watched in horror as mothers lost their babies and I had you on my arms.

The baby preceding you was injected on the hand and it turned all black and the attendant harshly told the mother to go and bury her child. In my mind, I refused that you were going to die. And so your turn came. The attendant couldn’t properly inject you on the arm since you were plump. So the vein just on the side of your head was injected and just like all the other children it turned entirely pitch black. I shot up and commanded the attendant to ensure you didn’t die. Your dad couldn’t bear the sight and so he passed out. The attendant, for being scared, tried injecting the vein on the other side of your head and there was no black coloration. I sighed heavily. So, you got admitted and for two straight weeks you never moved an inch. Your gentle moving of the thoracic cavity in inhalation and exhalation kept me going. My busty had swollen due to accumulated milk and I couldn’t even walk straight. The nurses there helped me out squeeze the milk into containers and it was poured out. The third week you opened your eyes and suckled. I had never had such a moment in my life to this day. And so, here we are!”

That there was quite a story! The story stimulated my thoughts on whether witchcraftism and sorcery and evil eye phenomenon are actually true. My mother could swear by anything that she saw with her eyes the effect of evil eyes.

In an article titled ‘Kenyan Traders use Witchcraft to Create Wealth’ on Business Today website, there are amusing findings stated:

“The Pew Research Center survey, conducted in 2010, showed that a quarter of Kenyans believe in witchcraft even though they are deeply religious. Kenyans were ranked 11th in Africa and 16th in the world on the most religious people, with nearly nine in every 10 people stating that religion plays an important role in their lives. But most of these people dump the bibles or Koran soon after worship to seek solace in shrines and witchdoctors’ dens.

In spite of the strong belief in one God, heaven and hell, the survey found that sub-Saharan Africa, leads in the worship of witchcraft, evil spirits, and sacrifices to ancestors, traditional religious healers and reincarnation.

Pew Research Center ranked Kenya 15th in Africa in the belief in witchcraft, a few points behind the Democratic Republic of Congo, and way ahead of Ethiopia, Nigeria, Zambia and Rwanda. “A quarter of Kenyans, both Christians and Muslims, confessed they believe in the protective power of juju (charms or amulets) and that they consult traditional healers,”

I am passionately reminded of a Bible verse in Galatians 3:1 that states; O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ has been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

I resound that verse again by asking, O foolish humans of this century, who has bewitched us such that we so much rely on what the French people call sorcellerie?

I cannot dispute the fact that dark magic exists and is real because the devil was thrown down to earth with all his prowess in evil. He is also the prince of the earth. But why should wizardry form the firm foundation of our current existence?

Growing up, I used to hear chilling stories of how women at the coast could turn into snakes or cats and vice versa. I am almost sure that those childhood friends who used to peddle such stories, always laugh hysterically at how they used to lie to us. Nevertheless, it is clear fallacy that such happenings never occur. And until I witness any of such, I will pen down my experience with accurate exactness.

It is funny how we encounter posters on “Mganga kutoka Pemba, Anatibu Nguvu za Kiume, Kushinda Sport Pesa, Kuendelea kibiashara, and Kupendwa na wanawake” together with all manner of humorous propositions. We are smart enough to fall for such fraudulences.

Humorous fallacy

Have you ever witnessed any form of black magic? Have you ever been a victim like I was? Are you a witch or a sorcerer? Is black magic even true? I would like to hear your thoughts and sentiments.

There is no better way to put this to a close other than by this:

“Since man cannot live without miracles, he will provide himself with miracles of his own making. He will believe in witchcraft and sorcery, even though he may otherwise be a heretic, an atheist, and a rebel.” 
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov.

“There’s a big difference on being wise and being crafty. The former is the attribute of God, and the latter is that of Satan.” 
― Michael Bassey Johnson.

“That there is a Devil, is a thing doubted by none but such as are under the influences of the Devil.” 
― Cotton Mather, On Witchcraft.

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