The rise in the number of bizarre incidents blamed on witchcraft and other unnatural ways of accumulating wealth and harming others is quite alarming. We are sure religious leaders will point to end times while traditionalists will also point to the proliferation of unscrupulous healers.
Almost every week we carry bizarre stories that are witchcraft related with supposed victims fearing harm while those accused sometimes own up as being behind the scary creatures. This has left us wondering if the tsikamutandas that have been at times been dismissed by the traditional healers association Zinatha and condemned by many hapless villagers are doing any good in our communities. What is not in doubt, though, is that traditional leaders have a lot of faith in these witch hunters and many villagers believe that the witch hunters are doing a good job.
However, the question still remains on how genuine these witch hunters are considering that they charge for their services, and that they are brought into these communities by the traditional leaders. In some communities, they have been welcomed by the people who afterwards claim to have been rescued from various afflictions due to the cleansing ceremonies.
However, those that do not go along with the cleansing ceremonies have to be protected since such people, by not believing in the tsikamutandas, feel they are somehow targeted by these people whom they feel they plant strange objects in their homes and then force them to admit they own them. We believe in communities where there is agreement and in cases where those with problems with their goblins and other such come forward, such rituals may be held in consultation with the traditional leaders. What we are against is the herding of all villagers against their will and belief systems into these cleansing ceremonies.
Just like the latter day prophets, there is no way of verifying the authenticity of the witch hunters, whose training and deployment has remained a mystery to many. Could it be a case of a fear of the unknown or witchcraft gone out of hand that the services of these witch hunters are now being frequently sought in communities and many villagers being shamed? It is our hope that such communities have a healing or coping mechanism after such discoveries so that such incidents do not sow enmity that could prove difficult to extinguish between families for generations.
Granted, traditional healers have been around since time immemorial. Our major worry, though, is the scale with which tsikamutandas are going around communities sniffing out the ‘bad guys’ that we feel should raise concern even among authorities if such processes build peaceful communities or tear them apart.