The cat man, the politicians and the mind games

Manyaunyau, from Facebook

Manyaunyau, from Facebook

Dr Manyaunyau is a well-known “traditional healer”, based in Dar es Salaam. His name derives from an informal Swahili word for cat – “nyau”, (from the noise it makes) – and he is said to use cats in some very gruesome ways in his work.

And a few days ago he was interviewed for a post on the website of Times Fm radio station (warning: graphic images). “Manyaunyau wants the senior politicians who seek him out to do so openly, explains what he does during elections,” was the headline.

Manyaunyau is more open than some in his profession, not just in interviews like this but also having his own website and facebook page (both have more graphic images. But it would be wrong to assume that this is generally an underground profession; these guys need customers, so they do their marketing.

So what did he say in the interview?

Well, the full text is posted below, along with a translation, but it is mostly about politicians seeking his support during elections – not least the idea that by doing so in secret they encourage rumours:

“… people fail to put us in the spotlight as the technical committee [kamati ya ufundi], the result of which is that people talk if they know who you are. Just be free – ‘guys, I have Dr Manyaunyau, he is my technical committee’ – you won’t hear people talking then. But if you are always hiding, you are escalating the issue.”

Transparency in traditional healing? Maybe that should go into Tanzania’s next Open Government Partnership action plan?

There’s another point I want to highlight as well – some comments Manyaunyau makes about his methods:

“Leaders really seek us out when the elections come. You know how worries are, they say worries take over the mind [wasiwasi ndio akili].”

And later on, he explains how he helps politicians attract supporters away from their rivals:

“It helps, you need to roll the dice sometimes. You need to play with peoples minds as well in that situation. And so, at times – ‘you know there are lots of people over there and here there are few’, ‘ok, lets reduce his crowd and give you some’ – that’s what we do, and it is real.”

Is Manyaunyau saying that this is all about psychology: playing on politicians’ fears, playing with people’s minds?

Finally, though it’s not mentioned in the Times Fm post, it’s worth noting that Manyaunyau has himself been in the news recently, as he is the subject of a court case. It is alleged that he tricked a Dar resident into paying him nearly Tshs 30m/- (roughly USD $18,000) to raise her uncle from the grave. It is not his first brush with the law. And earlier this year, he was mentioned in a column in The Citizen, in which the columnist described saving a woman from a mob that had been roused by Dr Manyaunyau claiming theatrically that she was a witch.

Meanwhile, the Council of Traditional and Alternative Medicines, an official body, has issued a statement banning all advertising of traditional and alternative medicines in the Tanzanian media, saying that in recent days there have been various adverts that don’t help society. Any news organisation that broadcasts any such adverts will be fined and subject to legal action, according to their statement.

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Here’s the Times Fm post, translated into English. The original Swahili is below.

Manyaunyau wants the senior politicians who seek him out to do so openly, explains what he does during elections

The famous traditional doctor known as Dr Manyaunyau has said that during election periods lots of senior politicians seek him out in order that he should help them, but that in doing so, they always stay well hidden.

Speaking to the Times Fm website, Manyaunyau said he wants these politicians to stop acting in secret because what he does is a traditional technical skill, which in other countries is something a politician would be open about and proud.

“Leaders really seek us out when the elections come. You know how worries are, they say worries take over the mind [wasiwasi ndio akili]. So they come, but in a watchful way. Here in Tanzania people see these things as foreign – a leader to go to a traditional healer – some come secretively. I say to them ‘why hide when you are human?’ But in other African countries you will find a President has his own healer. ‘He is my technical committee [kamati ya ufundi]’ he will say.”

“Now people fail to put us in the spotlight as the technical committee, the result of which is that people talk if they know who you are. Just be free – ‘guys, I have Dr Manyaunyau, he is my technical committee’ – you won’t hear people talking then. But if you are always hiding, you are escalating the issue.”

Explaining what he does particularly during elections to help candidates, Manyaunyau said they can help candidates who are lacking supporters to get new supporters from their rivals.

“It helps, you need to roll the dice sometimes. You need to play with peoples minds as well in that situation. And so, at times – ‘you know there are lots of people over there and here there are few’, ‘ok, lets reduce his crowd and give you some’ – that’s what we do, and it is real.”

The healer explains that there are lots of politicians who seek him out and he has been able to help them, that they were able to gather citizens votes.

“Lots of them, some we cannot name. But we have sent lots of them to parliament. I’m serious, I’m telling you, but these are they ways we work.”

Even so, the question of beliefs like this is very uncertain among society and there is no-one who can verify this power to win elections, and it remains as ‘believe it or not’!

Is it a good policy or is there something more in the art of politics? Everyone has their own answer.

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Finally, the original post, in Swahili. 

Manyaunyau awataka wanasiasa wakubwa wanamfuata kwa siri waweke wazi, aeleza anachofanya wakati wa uchaguzi

Mganga wa jadi maarufu anaefahamika kama Dr. Manyaunyau amesema kinapofika kipindi cha uchaguzi, wanasiasa wengi wakubwa humfuata kwa lengo la kutaka awasaidie lakini siku zote wanafanya kwa kujificha sana.

Akiongea na tovuti ya Times Fm, Manyaunyau amewataka wanasiasa hao kutofanya kwa siri kwa kuwa anachokifanya yeye ni ufundi wa jadi ambao nchi nyingine unajulikana mwanasiasa huweka wazi benchi lake la ufundi kwa kujigamba.

“Viongozi kwa kweli wanatufuata inapofika wakati wa uchaguzi. Si unajua wasiwasi, wanasema wasiwasi ndio akili. Kwa hiyo wanakuja lakini katika njia ya kuangalia. Mambo hayo hapa Tanzania ndio watu wanayaona mageni kiongozi kwenda kwa mganga wa kienyeji, wengine wanakuja kwa kujificha. Na mimi nawaambia ‘kwanini unajificha na wewe ni binadamu?’ Lakini nchi nyingine za Kiafrika unakuta President ana mganga wake kabisa. ‘Huyu ni kamati yangu  ufundi’ anakwambia.” Ameesema Manyaunyau.

“Sasa watu wanashindwa kutuchukua sisi kutuweka Live kamati ya ufundi matokeo yake wanajificha ndio unawapa maneno wakibahatisha kukujua. Kuwa tu free ‘ebana mimi nina Dr Manyaunyau ndio kamati yangu ya ufundi. Husikii mtu akiongea. Ila ukijifichaficha ndio unakipaisha kitu…”Ameongeza

Akielezea kile anachokifanya hasa wakati wa uchaguzi ili kumsaidia mgombea. Manyaunyau amesema wanaweza kumsaidia mgombea aliyepungukiwa wafuasi kupata wafuasi wapya kutoka kwa mwenzake.

“Inasaidia, lazima kete wakati mwingine uzicheze kidogo. Akili za watu lazima ucheze nazo pale. Kwa hiyo wakati mwingine…si unajua bana mbona wako wengi na huku kwangu wamekuwa hivi?’ ‘Basi ngoja tumpunguzie tukuwekee na wewe… ndio shughuli zetu hizo na inakuwa.”

Mganga huyo anaeleza kuwa wapo wanasiasa wengi waliomfuata ameweza kuwasaidia na wakafanikiwa kuzikusanya kura za wananchi.

“Wengi..wengine hatuwezi kuwataja majina yao. Lakini wengi tumewapeleka mjengoni kule. Serious nakwambia, lakini hizo ni taratibu zetu ambazo zipo.” Ameeleza.

Hata hivyo suala la imani kama hii ni tata sana katika jamii na hakuna anaeweza kuthibisha kuhusu nguvu hiyo ya ushindi katika uchaguzi na ibaki kuwa ‘unaamini au hauamini’!

Ni sera bora au kuna nyongeza katika sanaa ya siasa? Kila mtu ana jibu lake.