Friday, June 13, 2008

The Insect Witch

Malawi is predominantly Chirstian but witchcraft and animist beliefs still play a role in some places.

A few nights ago, Mafayo was explaining how his business got started. The plot of land he cleared was originally a forest that was feared by many in the community. Witches lived there.

Mafayo was undaunted by this. He cleared about a hectare of forest and enough space for a new, more direct, road to the trading centre. From what he said, people are very appreciative of his efforts to rid the community of the evil that lurked nearby.

I asked Mafayo if he feared the witches. Surely, they would exact some kind of vengeance on him for the destruction of their home. “God is greater,” he replied. “Witches can only harm the body, not the soul.”

We continued talking about traditional beliefs and how… Suddenly, Mafayo jerked from his seat and stripped off his shirt. “Something bit me,” he said. There, just at the edge of the glow of the fire, a centipede no shorter than 6 inches scurried away.

“And we were just talking about the witches,” Mafayo laughed while lifting a heavy stone. “But God is greater.”


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