Re: [ujeni] juju assistance
- 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
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@...>_________________________________________________________________________
>To: Malawi RPCVS <email@example.com>
>Subject: [ujeni] juju assistance
>Date: Thu, 5 Oct 2000 12:52:18 -0700 (PDT)
>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
>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!
Get Your Private, Free E-mail from MSN Hotmail at http://www.hotmail.com
Share information about yourself, create your own public profile at
- 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
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
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
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
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
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
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