Re: [ujeni] juju assistance
- 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