Thursday, July 30, 2009

Zimbabweans say angry ancestors are behind road accidents

The state of the roads in Zimbabwe are awful - this is an interesting article which shows how superstitious people can be appeared in the Los Angeles Times - belief in the old gods is very open in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabweans say angry ancestors are behind road accidents

Traditional rituals to appease the dead have not been performed for years. Some believe that's the cause for a recent string of terrible crashes on one highway.
By Robyn Dixon May 23, 2009
Reporting from Chivhu, Zimbabwe — The road is scarred with skid marks, some curved like snakes, others pencil straight. They shriek the fates of unlucky travelers who lost their lives; they mark the near-misses.
It's not just the treacherous potholes, or the edges of the road nibbled away like cookies. It's not the dozing driver behind the glaring truck headlights about to veer onto the wrong side.

People here in central Zimbabwe are afraid of something else.
The pedestrians crossing the road at night, dressed in black, walking so slowly that drivers are forced to swerve -- ghostly figures not made of skin and bone. And the mermaid in the Pimbi River, angry at the blood and gasoline spilled when a bus crashed into the water two years ago.
For a long time, things have not been right anywhere in this beautiful but tortured country. The economy has collapsed; there's been conflict, hatred, repression. But many believe this country's long, grinding crisis is just a symptom of something deeper: The ancestors are angry.
Some people here trace today's road disasters back to the blood spilled in 1890, on the arrival of white colonialist Cecil Rhodes, who founded the diamond company De Beers and settled Zimbabwe. Rhodesia, the colonial name for Zimbabwe and Zambia, was named after him.
Under Rhodes, an invading pioneer column set up camp near what is now the highway, and the colonialists called the place Fort Charter. Local people believe that many blacks were thrown into a burning pit by the foreigners.
When bad things happen in Zimbabwe, an uneasy suspicion arises. In times past, communities religiously attended to rituals, slaughtering cattle to keep the ancestors happy. But in the last 10 or 15 years, many communities have neglected the rituals.
Zimbabwean traditional beliefs are as real for most Christians in rural areas as they are for those cleaving solely to African religions. Many urban dwellers are the same, including top members of President Robert Mugabe's Cabinet.
For some, traditional beliefs permeate every aspect of life: politics, business, family, illness, prosperity and fate. They also bring a measure of daily fear: Demons can sicken or curse you. Enemies with powerful muti, or magic, can strike you with a lightning bolt if challenged. Droughts, famines, locust plagues and wildfires happen when ancestors are upset or God is displeased.

Zimbabwe outllaws witch craft and Witch Flies 75 miles in a winnowing basket

There are two articles here of interest -
Zimbabwe outlaws practise of witchcraft
By Lebo Nkatazo
Last updated: 04/14/2009
ZIMBABWE has outlawed the practise of witchcraft following a raft of amendments to legislation drawn up by the former colonial regime.
From July this year, witchcraft will be a criminal offence punishable by a fine or a five-year jail term, the country's Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said.
Until President Robert Mugabe assented to the amendments last week, Zimbabwe's Witchcraft Suppression Act, a holdover from the colonial era, made it illegal to call anyone a witch, meaning nearly all cases went unreported.
The police were also powerless to act, and just recently, the country's chief police spokesman said it was next to impossible to prove that one was a witch.
"Witchcraft is not an area that lends itself to police scrutiny," said Wayne Budzijena, the Zimbabwe Republic Police spokesman. "How do you verify an evil spell? This is a matter of spiritual faith, not a matter of empirical evidence."
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa told state media at the weekend that Part VI of Chapter V of the Witchcraft Suppression Act had been amended and the amendments would come into effect on July 1, 2006.
He said: "President Mugabe has assented to the amendments and criminals will be charged for breaching certain sections of the Act as from July this year."
The new laws make it a criminal offence to hire a witch or assist in the commission of witchcraft, but also provides protection for people "groundlessly" accused of practising witchcraft.
The 50 000-member Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association has been instrumental in forcing the change in law.
Gordon Chavunduka, chairman of the association said: "Witchcraft and tokoloshis (demons and their gremlin-like henchmen, ankle-high creatures) are making a comeback. It's obvious the cause is economic. The worse the economy gets, the more political tension there is in society, the more frustrated and frightened people get. They turn to witchcraft to gain riches or to hurt their enemies."
In January this year, a top High Coutrt judge urged the Zimbabwe government to ease colonial era restrictions on the practice of witchcraft.
Justice Maphios Cheda, opening the new judicial year, said: "The strongly held conviction of belief in witchcraft and traditional healers ... cannot be wished away.
"We should amend the century-old Witchcraft Suppression Act in keeping with the popular thinking and beliefs of the majority in this country."
Although many highly educated Zimbabweans tend not to believe in such phenomena, they acknowledge the belief is part of their cultural background.
"I've never seen a tokoloshi, I've never had a tokoloshi attack me, but I've heard all the stories like everyone else," said Professor Welshman Ncube, a constitutional law scholar. "I don't believe or disbelieve. It's difficult for outsiders to understand, but African daily life relies heavily on the spirit world, for good or evil."
The amended Part VI of Chapter V of the Witchcraft Suppression Act now reads: "Whoever accuses a person of witchcraft means to indicate that the person (is possessed by a spirit or) used non-natural means (witch-finding) to cause death, injury, disease or inability in any person. This also means that destruction or loss of or damage to property of any description was involved.
"Any person who engages in any practice knowing that it is commonly associated with witchcraft, shall be guilty of engaging in a practice commonly associated with witchcraft if having the intention to cause harm to any person.
"Such practice inspires in the person against whom it was directed, a real fear or belief that harm will occur to that person or any member of his or her family, and be liable to a fine not exceeding level ten or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years or both."
"Spoken words shall not in themselves constitute a practice commonly associated with witchcraft for the purpose of this section, unless accompanied by or used in connection with other conduct commonly associated with witchcraft.
"For the avoidance of doubt it is declared that any person who assists another person to commit the crime of engaging in a practice commonly associated with witchcraft, by giving advice or providing any substance or article to enable that person to commit the crime, shall be liable to be charged as an accomplice to the crime.
"A court shall not take judicial notice of any practice that is said to be commonly associated with witchcraft, but any person who, in the opinion of the court, is suitably qualified to do so on account of his/her knowledge, shall be competent to give expert evidence as to whether the practice that forms the subject of a charge under this section is a practice that is commonly associated with witchcraft, whether generally or in the particular area where the practice is alleged to have taken place.
"Any person who groundlessly or by the purported use of non-natural means accuses another person of witchcraft shall be guilty of indicating a witch or wizard and liable.
"It shall not be a defence to a contravention of a subsection involving the purported use of any non-natural means for the person charged to prove that the person he/she accused actually engaged in any practice commonly associated with witchcraft, but the court may suggest such circumstance as mitigatory when assessing the sentence to be imposed."
The amendment disqualifies as defence to murder, assault or any other crime that an accused was influenced by a genuine belief that the victim was a witch or wizard and a court would only use it as mitigation

This story appeared in one of our local papers recently - June 2009:

21 year old woman stunned a court when she claimed she flew 75 miles in a winnowing basket with two witches on a mission to kill her brother-in-law. Her claims where collaborated by a witchcraft expert who told the court that “witches can travel from Zimbabwe to as far as South Africa during the night and fly back as soon as their mission is accomplished”.
In court Regina Sveto, 21 on Friday “hissed like a snake” and “went into a trance” as Sekuru Nelson Jambaya, the vice president of the Zimbabwe National Traditional Healers Association (ZINATHA) testified leaving a packed court room shocked.
All the drama took place at Court 18 at the Harare Magistrates Court where it was jammed to the rafters as court officials, magistrates and lawyers all raced there to watch proceedings in the rather unusual case.
Sveto has pleaded guilty to a charge of public indecency after she was found naked outside her brother-in-law’s house in Highfield suburb just after 6AM on last Sunday.
Sveto was seen by passers-by outside the house wearing “red headgear” and “some black strings around the waist”. She claimed she had “flown” from there from Murehwa, some 120km east of Harare, with her father-in-law and an aunt.
Their winnowing basket aircraft taxied off from a graveyard in Zihute Village under Chief Mangwende — their mission to kill her brother-in-law. Once at the house in Highfield, she claims she balked when asked to kill her brother-in-law. Her father-in-law, named in court as Elias Zemba, and the aunt, Filda Zemba, then took off and abandoned her.
Just in case she flies back, Magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe has asked for expert opinion before passing sentence. After listening to Jambaya’s evidence on Thursday, Guvamombe ordered Chief Mangwende to be summoned to give his opinion on June 4. The magistrate has also ordered that the woman be kept in custody, “just in case she flies back to Murehwa”.
Jambaya said the woman’s account confirmed what traditional healers have always believed about witches and wizards. He told the court: “According to my knowledge, if the woman said she flew from Murehwa in a basket, then she is a witch. Witches do a lot of this and they are known to travel naked at night.
“It is also possible for witches to travel as far as South Africa during the night for the purposes of witchcraft, flying back as soon as their mission is accomplished. Some people use magic to protect their homes and families against witchcraft and in such cases, the witches and wizards become powerless and are subsequently exposed.”
As Jambaya testified, Sveto “hissed like a snake”, triggering some panic at the court room. At one point, she was seen to suddenly become weak, leaning heavily against a prison guard.
Then, in a sudden burst, she shouted in her native Shona: “You are liars! You are only senior in terms of your jobs but you are powerless against me. Why are you leaving criminals to roam free out there and harassing an innocent person like me? I have no case to answer, didn’t my medium brief you?”
Sveto immediately collapsed and lay prostrate on the floor for several minutes before a relative revived her by placing salt into her palms. She regained consciousness some 10 minutes later, by which time the court was overflowing with curious on-lookers.
Prosecutors have asked the magistrate not to impose a custodial sentence on Sveto. Prosecutor Austin Muzivi said the woman was likely to be a state witness should Elias Zemba and Filda Zemba be charged with practising witchcraft, which is a crime in Zimbabwe.
A 2006 law says anyone accusing another individual of witchcraft must show proof of their allegations.
The Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act 2004 says court officials can rely on expert evidence “as to whether the practice that forms the subject of a charge… is a practice that is commonly associated with witchcraft.”

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I had a very strange lucid dream last night that took me back many years to Salisbury, now Harare, when the new Meikles Hotel was built. I saw the old hotel being pulled down and it was exactly as it was at the time - the colours were bright and clear and even people
Ii knew then were in the dream.

What is lucid dreaming and why are the images sometimes so clear. I was able to decide which way i walked and looked at other buildings of the time.

Very interesting.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Zimbabwe: Ruwa Murder - Boy Accuses Father of Witchcraft

Yet another story of witchcraft still alive in Zimbabwe
8 July 2009

Harare — The 17-year-old Ruwa boy charged with killing his parents in cold blood last year has, in turn, accused his father of using him as a "goblin" to sustain his "mysterious" business empire.
The teenager made the startling claims when his trial opened before High Court judge Justice Tendayi Uchena on Monday. The boy allegedly gunned down his father and mother at their Ruwa home in April last year.
It is alleged that he shot his father in the head before heading to the bedroom where he opened fire on his mother who had been awakened by the gunshots.
According to reports, the father had, on the fateful day, woken up the boy at around 3am so that he could study. The teenager pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder.
In his defence outline, the boy's lawyer, Advocate Thabani Mpofu, claimed that during the study sessions, which were closed to other family members, his father would burn some roots and unspecified substances. The burning would invariably lead to some "body malaise and dizziness", reads the defence outline.
Adv Mpofu further submitted that over the weekends preceding the fateful day, the boy would spend around 19 hours in an unconscious state that only his father could break.
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"Such was the accused's strange routine. The accused is now positively aware that he was being used as a goblin by his father in order to sustain and support his mysterious and vast business interests," Adv Mpofu said.
The boy's father ran a security company, among other businesses. However, the psychiatric report that forms part of the defence established that the boy suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy, fits affecting half of the brain.
"His conduct that morning was not voluntary and he committed the acts he is charged with without conscious knowledge. His actions were brought about by either the temporal lobe epilepsy or (the) spiritual world to which he had descended into," Adv Mpofu said.
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Key State witness Mr Admire Musasa (24), who is related to the boy, yesterday gave his account of the events he witnessed early in the morning after the shooting. He said at around 5am a maid came to his bedroom and woke him up.
"She was looking worried and asked me to come with her. I got dressed and followed her to the dining room. I saw my uncle (the boy's father) seated on his chair with his head facing down on the table with his books," he said.
"I observed a white substance coming out from the back of his head. I shook him, but he did not respond," he testified. Mr Musasa said he then went up stairs with the intention of informing his aunt about "the horrible scene".
When he got to his aunt's bedroom, Mr Musasa said he found the door wide open and observed that there was disorder in the room.
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He then went to his other aunt's bedroom and informed her before going to the teenager's bedroom to report the matter. Mr Musasa said after Ms Spiwe Chakuvinga, the younger sister to the boy's mother, entered the bedroom, she came out looking very worried.
"Her face had completely changed. Together we went downstairs. She also shook her brother-in-law in the same way I had done," he said.
While in the dining room, Mr Musasa said they heard the maid identified only as Precious shouting at the top of her voice: "Amai vapfurwawo futi (Mother has also been shot dead)."
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The trial is now being held in open court following a successful application by the defence. Last month the court barred the Press from covering the proceedings, saying only close relatives were allowed into the courtroom because the suspect was a minor.
In terms of the law, court proceedings involving minor children ought to be conducted in camera.
However, Adv Mpofu argued there was no law that automatically obliged such proceedings to be held in camera.
He cited several case laws to support his contention, which was opposed by the State.
After considering arguments presented by both the defence and State counsels, the court ruled in favour of the defence.
However, in terms of the law it is the defence that can apply to have proceedings in such cases held in camera and not the State.
Adv Mpofu is being instructed by Ms Sharon Maphosa of Mawere and Sibanda law firm.

From Cabinet of Wonders

These stories are getting more and more common. people think that Africa is now a modern society - in still has its roots in its ancient traditions and beliefs including wirchcraft.

Glendale is north of Harare and was a flourishing farming community.

Magical shenanigans in Zimbabwe just keep getting weirder:
Two self-styled prophets stunned Glendale villagers when they mysteriously retrieved a baby's leg still dripping blood from a woman's hut and accused her of practising witchcraft and causing the death of the minor. However, the duo ran out of luck when they ordered the villagers to illegally exhume the body of the child, who had died a few days back, only to find the decomposing body intact.The two escaped from the scene, but were later arrested and have since appeared in court charged with employing "non-natural" means to resolve crimes.
I have to wonder where the leg actually came from, the details (while even stranger) don't really help solve that one:
The State, represented by prosecutor Mr Guni Guni, told the court the incident occurred at a farm in Glendale on June 24 this year when the duo went to Ms Everess Chazika's home. Ms Chazika had sought the duo's services after her husband continued to suffer from hallucinations.The prophets allegedly summoned villagers and the head at the farm to witness them cleansing the home of evil spirits. During the session, the self-styled prophets entered the woman's bedroom and emerged with a baby's leg dripping with blood. Munjodzi and Nsiku then pointed a finger at Ms Chazika, accusing her of using the baby's leg during her witchcraft errands. The mother of the baby that had died three weeks earlier was among the villagers who witnessed the exorcism and allegedly identified the leg as belonging to her late baby. Ms Chazika denied any knowledge of the leg and the prophet asked her to hold a hen claiming if she denied the truth the chicken would die. The villagers allegedly quickly brought the chicken, which was handed over to Ms Chazika.The prophet then asked her if she used the human leg in witchcraft, which she denied.The chicken reportedly nodded three times and died instantly.Munjodzi and Nsiku then challenged the villagers to dig up the baby's grave claiming it was empty while Ms Chazika insisted she never used witchcraft.The prophets claimed that Ms Chazika and other witches had feasted on the baby's body. The villagers, with the blessing of the headmen, dug up the grave only to discover the baby's body still intact despite being in an advanced state of decomposition. Munjodzi and Nsiku disappeared from the scene only to be arrested early this month. Police are still keen to find out how Munjodzi and Nsiku came to possess the baby's leg. It was also not clear how the leg was disposed of.
If I had to guess, I'd suggest it isn't a real baby's leg (well I hope not anyway), you could get a similar effect by hiding a doll's leg and a bag of blood up your sleeve for easy retrieval, then you wave it around a bit so no one gets a proper look at it.
This involvement of "prophets" seems to be a recent and growing problem across West Africa. "Prophets" in Zimbabwe seem to be involved with an earlier story and they are the main problem in the whole Nigerian Witch Children business (that spread to the Congo). There appear to be groups of people making-up problems for which they are the solution, no matter what the cost for other people.

While I'd be quite happy to see these mystical meddlers locked up, my gut tells me this is more a symptom of a wider problem. You are going to have to address issues of stability, justice and inequality: get rid of Mugabe and make sure the Nigerian oil money gets spread around to all the people in the country. That it obviously a bigger deal and may take a little longer.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Zimbabwe Sathya Sai Baba Experiemce

Sathyanarayana Raju was born to Peddavenkama Raju and Eswaramma in an agrarian family in the remote village of Puttaparthi, located in Anantapur district, Andhra Pradesh, India.[9] Professor Narayana Kasturi's biography stated that when the child was born, musical instruments in the household started creating music on their own. He also claimed that Sai Baba was born 'of immaculate conception. Sai Baba's mother, Easwaramma, was walking towards a well one day when a huge sphere of blue light rolled towards her, merged into her and made her faint. She soon found out that she was pregnant after dreaming of the Hindu God, Sathyanarayana. Sathya in Sanskrit means truth, and Narayana in Sanskrit means God in human form. The young Sathyanarayana, Kasturi's biography states, was a vegetarian and was "known" for his aversion to animal cruelty.[10] The child was very lively and the pet of the village. [11]From early childhood he was called "Guru" by his playmates leading them in devotional song and fascinating and amusing them by taking candy and playthings from an apparently empty bag.
Daily, he is observed to allegedly manifest vibuthi (holy ash), and sometimes food and small objects such as rings, necklaces and watches.
My family attended meetings on a regular basis in Harare and it was at one of these meetings that we experienced the manifestation of vibuthi.
After the meeting we were handing out the offerings of food - i was handing out plastic bags for everyone to use to place there food into. As I was handing one bag to a visitor from Zambia i noticed what i thought was dirt in the bottom of the bag - I told the man concerned that i would get another bag - then we saw what was not dirt but vibuthi growing in the bag until it was half full with the ash.
There was enough for everyone to take some home - I still have a small amount left after some years - but it never seems to disappear entirely!