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Re: [ujeni] juju assistance

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  • David Burrows
    I think this was funny but I haven t always gotten a laugh from the story. More of an oh my god. that poor man However you take it, its still a good juju
    Message 1 of 5 , Oct 6, 2000
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      I think this was funny but I haven't always gotten a laugh from the story.
      More of an "oh my god. that poor man" However you take it, its still a
      good juju tale.

      I was only at my site a few months when this happened. I went to my health
      centre one morning. The Health Assistant was very tired. I commented on it
      and all he said was that "ahh yes I am tired." Figured he was up early
      planting everyone's favorite cash crop. Well about a week later I was at
      the Health Centre and he comes walking up. I give a standard "Muli Bwanji?"
      and he immediately comes back with "pang'ono" (Now since I'd already used
      all my chichewa vocab I started speaking English.) "Whats wrong?", I ask.
      "Someone is playing juju on me. Remember last week when you said I was
      tired? Well I had hired a boat to take me across the lake to see a "doctor"
      to help me. He didn't help so I am going back again today." This was
      Tuesday.

      Thursday night I am awakened by the HA outside my window yelling 'Dave!' I
      respond and then he asks if I was sleeping which I say, "yeah" and he
      leaves. I fall right back asleep none the worse for wear. Friday morning,
      I vaguely remember what had happened but don't recall if it was a dream or
      the real thing. On the way to the Health Centre, I stop at the MA's house
      to chat. During the course of the conversation I learn that I wasn't
      dreaming. The HA had gone from house to house waking everyone up.

      So now I am at the Health Centre later that morning. A HSA came flying in.
      He greeted everyone, went to find the MA, and then biked off again as fast
      as he could. Turns out the Health Assistant was out on the tarmac (20 km
      south of Salima...a high traffic zone) kungfu fighting minibuses or whatever
      else came down the road. People couldn't coax him off the road so some guys
      finally tackled and hog tied him. The HSA had come to get a sedative.
      After telling the story to Shiela, she guessed he is probably
      schitzophrenic. Not juju after all! The DHO confirmed it but I am sure
      there is more to it than just that. I also learned that at least twice a
      year he has an episode which keeps him away from work at least a month (not
      that his Chibiku Bar or fodya farm ever diverted his attention) During the
      episode I witnessed, he kicked out his wife and two kids (they went down to
      the primary school where she taught) and brought in another wife and two
      kids. The DHO used one of the hospital vehicles to take him to his home
      district, Dedza, to see another "doctor" there and maybe stay with his
      family. But after a month, he was back.

      I guess why I like this story was because it gave me phrase to use. People
      who were a bit wacked had "gone across the lake." I guess the jury is still
      out on those Likoma people.

      Hope this is helpful Mr. Patten sir. Dave


      >From: John Patten <jppatten98@...>
      >Reply-To: ujeni@egroups.com
      >To: Malawi RPCVS <ujeni@egroups.com>
      >Subject: [ujeni] juju assistance
      >Date: Thu, 5 Oct 2000 12:52:18 -0700 (PDT)
      >
      >Hey all,
      >I was wondering if you could assist me with
      >information. I am trying to come up with a topic for
      >my thesis, and aspects of personal experience are
      >something I would like to include. In the current
      >research there is almost nothing on how the belief in
      >witchcraft may affect development or relief
      >operations. I know the beliefs are strong, but largely
      >ignored by agencies. There is some evidence to suggest
      >that witchcraft is more a response to modern pressures
      >than a lingering social custom. Here I am not talking
      >about what may be positive aspects of traditional
      >medicine or social beliefs, but the manipulation of
      >information and use of witchcraft for violence, and
      >the local responses to this and globalization. The
      >beliefs seem operational and strike a very unlikely
      >balance with modernity, and I would like to find out
      >why.
      >Could you send me some of your stories or experiences
      >on this topic? They could be funny, disturbing,
      >incongruous, interesting, illustrative, etc. If you
      >want to respond to my personal email please do. Could
      >some of the funnier incidents could be discussed here?
      >I know I heard things on a routine basis that made me
      >stop and turn. Thanks for the ideas, JP
      >
      >__________________________________________________
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      >Yahoo! Photos - 35mm Quality Prints, Now Get 15 Free!
      >http://photos.yahoo.com/
      >
      >
      >
      >

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    • Tana Beverwyk
      John- very cool thesis. I ve been working in a similar vein, looking at the role of witch craft and belief in cross-cultural health communicaiton. I did a
      Message 2 of 5 , Oct 6, 2000
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        John- very cool thesis. I've been working in a similar vein, looking at the
        role of witch craft and belief in cross-cultural health communicaiton. I
        did a "study/survey" to use the grad school terms loosely, while in
        Mpherembe and have lots of tapes and data from about 50 sinyangas. I'm
        using them right now, but if you would like me to copy them for you and ship
        them out I'd be more than happy. Don't expect too much...they're fairly
        unorganized since I hadn't been enlightened by any methods courses yet, but
        they do give some insight. Many many stories that I haven't written down,
        so if I find a moment, I'll type them up and send them your way. The best
        one involved mising children in the village, the reappearance after 3 months
        with snakes around their necks (saw it myself) and the mob-style trail of a
        prominent business man. I think I have it all down in a letter home
        somewhere. Anyway, hope I can be of help. Are you liking grad school? I'm
        done in May and cannot wait. Been good, but frustruating to have my hands
        so clean while my head is so full. -Tana

        John Patten wrote:

        > Hey all,
        > I was wondering if you could assist me with
        > information. I am trying to come up with a topic for
        > my thesis, and aspects of personal experience are
        > something I would like to include. In the current
        > research there is almost nothing on how the belief in
        > witchcraft may affect development or relief
        > operations. I know the beliefs are strong, but largely
        > ignored by agencies. There is some evidence to suggest
        > that witchcraft is more a response to modern pressures
        > than a lingering social custom. Here I am not talking
        > about what may be positive aspects of traditional
        > medicine or social beliefs, but the manipulation of
        > information and use of witchcraft for violence, and
        > the local responses to this and globalization. The
        > beliefs seem operational and strike a very unlikely
        > balance with modernity, and I would like to find out
        > why.
        > Could you send me some of your stories or experiences
        > on this topic? They could be funny, disturbing,
        > incongruous, interesting, illustrative, etc. If you
        > want to respond to my personal email please do. Could
        > some of the funnier incidents could be discussed here?
        > I know I heard things on a routine basis that made me
        > stop and turn. Thanks for the ideas, JP
        >
        > __________________________________________________
        > Do You Yahoo!?
        > Yahoo! Photos - 35mm Quality Prints, Now Get 15 Free!
        > http://photos.yahoo.com/
        >
      • Kenneth E. Shockley
        Hope you all are doing well. I ve recently had some disturbing photographs from Malawu resurface- I hold you all responsible, collectively. But, beyond my
        Message 3 of 5 , Oct 6, 2000
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          Hope you all are doing well. I've recently had some disturbing
          photographs from Malawu resurface- I hold you all responsible,
          collectively. But, beyond my petty grievances... (oh, I miss you all as
          well)

          John,
          I used selections from the following two books in a Biomedial
          ethics course I taught last summer: _The Spirit Catches You and You Fall
          Down_ by Anne Fadimen (Rowman& Littlefield, 1999) and _Praying for a Cure_
          by Peggy DesAustels et al. (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1997). Both books
          (the first about the interaction of an epileptic child of Hmong immigrants
          with western medicine, and the second about the conflicts between
          Christian Science and WEstern conventional medicine) deal, extensively,
          with the conflict between conventional western views of health and
          medicine and alternative views. From what you said of your thesis, I
          think it may be only minimally tangential, and will be almost certainly
          interesting. The first book, especially, is worth reading generally
          (hence the ujeni wide reply- notice it's not published by an academic
          publisher- ergo readable). Anyway, I thought I remembered something I read
          about the role of religious/spiritual views in the Haitian revolution, but
          I can't find the reference (I don't THINK it was a late night viewing of
          _THe Serpant and the Rainbow_ but I'm not entirely sure... and please
          don't take this as an endorsement of that movie). Hope this is of some
          help. ANd I hope grad school is treating you well. I love it, well,
          except for the years of extreme poverty and the damage to my liver.


          Ken

          _________________________
          Kenneth Shockley
          Department of Philosophy
          Campus Box 1073
          Washington University
          St. Louis, MO 63130


          On Thu, 5 Oct 2000, John Patten wrote:

          > Hey all,
          > I was wondering if you could assist me with
          > information. I am trying to come up with a topic for
          > my thesis, and aspects of personal experience are
          > something I would like to include. In the current
          > research there is almost nothing on how the belief in
          > witchcraft may affect development or relief
          > operations. I know the beliefs are strong, but largely
          > ignored by agencies. There is some evidence to suggest
          > that witchcraft is more a response to modern pressures
          > than a lingering social custom. Here I am not talking
          > about what may be positive aspects of traditional
          > medicine or social beliefs, but the manipulation of
          > information and use of witchcraft for violence, and
          > the local responses to this and globalization. The
          > beliefs seem operational and strike a very unlikely
          > balance with modernity, and I would like to find out
          > why.
          > Could you send me some of your stories or experiences
          > on this topic? They could be funny, disturbing,
          > incongruous, interesting, illustrative, etc. If you
          > want to respond to my personal email please do. Could
          > some of the funnier incidents could be discussed here?
          > I know I heard things on a routine basis that made me
          > stop and turn. Thanks for the ideas, JP
          >
          > __________________________________________________
          > Do You Yahoo!?
          > Yahoo! Photos - 35mm Quality Prints, Now Get 15 Free!
          > http://photos.yahoo.com/
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >
        • Weber
          John...Here are two stories, one 3rd hand but about the mother of a woman I worked with, the other from a newspaper article that interestingly sounded as if it
          Message 4 of 5 , Oct 6, 2000
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            John...Here are two stories, one 3rd hand but about the mother of a woman I
            worked with, the other from a newspaper article that interestingly sounded
            as if it were reporting fact. It didn't sound tongue in cheek at all.

            Oh, I just happened to see Kenneth Shockley's email. Ken, The Spirit
            Catches
            You and You Fall Down is a great, great book and I can sure vouch for it's
            accuracy and fairness.
            We live in Merced County and I worked at MCMC (county hospital where much of
            it takes place)
            for l7 years..up until a couple of weeks before leaving for Malawi. I know
            lots of the medical people
            involved and some of the Hmong community but not this particular family.
            Faddimen was SO
            perceptive about everyone I knew. I had Hmong patients often and know some
            of the difficulty they have with western medicine. Gee, and I also saw a
            few things that made me wonder if what they have, be it absolute faith in
            their methods or what, makes me wonder who of us are right. Also, sent the
            book to friends who lived in Northern Thailand (USAID l966 to l970) just
            across the
            Mekong from the area of Laos where the Hmong lived...they considered them
            their neighbors and they loved the book. They said portions of the book
            written about the culture and traditions and events there were very
            accurate. The book is so well written and such a good fascinating read for
            anyone interested in the
            culture or not, it just is a plain very good story. So glad you liked it so
            much, too,
            Ken.

            Back to my response to you, John.

            1. Mrs. Phiri, our great,skilled physical therapy assistant, talked very
            often about her mother who was in her eighties and lived in Nkotakota area.
            She bragged about how vigorous and lively her Mom was. She still walked
            almost two hours a day to farm and then back again. Shortly before we left
            Malawi Mrs. Phiri was gone to go to her mother's funeral. Mrs. Chipofya, my
            boss, educated in Germany and Margaret Wazakili, my fellow staff PT, told me
            what had happened. They are both very western and were very angry. They
            said that the sing'anga in Mrs. Phiri's mother's village had made up a list
            of
            those believed to be witches in the village. They said it was common for
            old people to be targets for the lists. The way to prove that you were not
            one
            was to drink something he gave you. It was potent enough to kill most
            people. ... (and here is where my memory is cloudy). It seems to me that
            as they
            told it, if you lived through it, even if you were a witch it cleansed the
            witch from you. Old people were listed because if you lived that long and
            vigorously it was most likely because you were a witch. .....I probably
            don't have all the facts straight but the thing that made me saddest is that
            Mrs. Phiri's mother committed suicide so as not to endure the agony of the
            effects of the drink or the consequences of refusing and being then known
            as a witch. I still think of that often, of the sadness and cruelty of it.
            I wonder about the motivation for something like this that must be common.
            But see there, that is my interpretation that the sing'anga did this for a
            reason other than based on a religious or cultural belief...something he was
            convinced was true.

            2. The newspaper article was fun. It was about an event in a town in
            Mulanje area. The singanga saw a witch plane heading to Mozambique. It
            crashed in the top of a tree in his village. He called out all the
            villagers. None of them apparently could see it because the witches didn't
            want anyone to know that they were going to Mozambique. I thought it was
            interesting that they were using an airplane.

            3. Then there were all the newspaper articles about the hyenas stealing
            children up near Dedza and witches' involvement. Can't remember those well
            but some of your group who lived up in the area must.

            Really interesting project. I hope it works out for you. Cathy
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