I spotted this newspaper headline last Saturday. “Urais Mwaka 2015: Uchawi Mtupu”, which roughly translates as “2015 Presidency: Nothing but witchcraft”, along with photos of five potential presidential candidates.
The story inside is what you would expect – lots of claims about politicians going to Bagamoyo and elsewhere in the middle of the night, to stock up on “weapons” for the forthcoming campaign. One practitioner explains that he doesn’t get involved in “harming enemies”, but provides a service to “clean your stars”. Lots of places, times, and a goat are mentioned, but no names. The full article is here if you really want to read it.
Having done so myself, I flicked through the remaining pages. Papers like Sani are not usually on my reading list.
Right there on the opposite page: “The wonders of Dr Sefu from Pemba” and “Dr Hussein, expert in love medicines”. Dr Sefu apparently “has great ability, he uses your saliva or the name of the person you’re interested in, or just their phone number,” in order to get your lost lover back within just one hour. Dr Hussein has a similarly impressive range of abilities.
Then, on page 4, two more adverts: Dr Issa from Unguja and Dr Shipanza.
On page five, an advice column: “Know the main symptoms of someone possessed by good or bad demons”:
Don’t forget, “wapiga ramli,” (whatever that means,) were officially banned just two weeks ago.
But the paper continues. Page 6 is packed – ten adverts, seven for various doctors and three for beauty treatments of a similarly ambitious nature: “change your body shape: 45,000/-,” “cure baldness,” etc. And there is plenty more on pages 11, 12, 13 and 14 as well.
Here’s a sample:
“Dr Lambalamba”? Really?
I’ve saved my favourite for last – made to look like an article rather than an advert. “Get back your respect as a man.”
(For some fun, pick a sentence at random and type it into Google Translate.)
In all, the paper has a total 21 adverts for various “doctors” claiming incredible powers, and four for miraculous beauty treatments, not to mention several long-running serials with supernatural themes.
The paper’s front page headline screams “nothing but witchcraft”. I’m starting to think it was talking about the paper itself.
Meanwhile, in a column in The Citizen, how’s this for an opening sentence?
“If witchery ‘services’ that Tanzania witchdoctors purport to export to cities across East Africa would be added to the balance of trade, I’m sure we would not be doing too badly economically.”
I will leave you with two more brief extracts:
“Our people must be educated on why they need to stay clear of these witchdoctors, who are nothing more but thieves. People must learn to find answers to their problems through scientific means – reasoning.”
“Remember, if you think your life is nothing without a witchdoctor, you are wrong; God is everything in our life, so let’s depend on Him, and everything will be alright!”