My visit to the Witch Doctor By Thandi Mkatshwa

My visit to the Witch Doctor

By Thandi Mkatshwa

Published on Sun, Apr 05 2009 by Thandi Mkhatshwa

I never thought I would live to see the day that I would find myself sitting next to a sangoma and consulting, but today was a little different from my usual days. Consulting with sangomas to get help for any kind of illnesses has been part of our African heritage, and many people strongly believe it. But I on the other hand don’t.

I simply don’t believe in witchcraft and I find the whole thing of throwing animal bones to diagnose people’s problems very creepy. As a sat there on a little child’s plastic chair with my long knees almost rubbing my face, I couldn’t believe my friend since high school, Fridah, had dragged me into this. She was very worried about my health, as I haven’t been feeling well for two and half years now, and I wasn’t getting any better. The local hospital was not of help. The nurses there only gave me Ibuprofen and some other painkiller tablets every time I went there. When that didn’t work, they asked to check my HIV/AIDS status, but they couldn’t find out the cause of my chest pain on my left side.

Since the hospital wasn’t helpful at all, I decided to consult at a private doctor, and he told me that he suspected that I had Barlow’s syndrome, and pericorditis; inflammation around the heart. He prescribed me some medication, but some times the pain came back with full force. This very much scared Fridah. She thought maybe she would lose me, too, since our other best friend passed away a couple of weeks ago. A very polite and humble girl she was. A very educated girl who had just started working after spending a couple of years at varsity. But her life was cut short at the age of 24 for no good reason. Colette’s death came soon after she complained of pain under her feet and the next thing we heard she was dead, just like that.

Fridah thought Colette died because someone had bewitched her. Fridah tried to get her parents to consider taking Colette to a sangoma, but they were not too keen on the idea. A part of me believed Fridah’s statement, since our best friend’s death didn’t make sense. They took her to some feet specialist and everything, but nothing was ever good enough to keep her from dying. Like in my case, the doctors couldn’t figure out exactly what Colette was suffering from. And it was definitely not HIV/AIDS. Her death made me very scared, and I finally said yes to Fridah’s nagging to take me to the sangoma she usually consults to with all her problems.

?Unlike me, Fridah is a very BIG believer in sangomas. Fridah and I sat nervously and watched the sangoma as he threw the bones. When the traditional healer finally opened his mouth and told me what the bones were telling him about my health condition, I was really shocked me! He told us that my late lover’s wife put a curse on me because she blames me for his death and that what killed him was what was making me ill. And then he continued to add that the pain in my heart was caused by thinking too much of my late boyfriend. I couldn’t believe my ears, after paying him R70 to hell me what was wrong with me. I needed to hear my money’s worth, not this. What the hell was the first thought that came into mind? I was so shocked by the sangoma’s prognoses that I almost felt like my eyes almost popped out of their place. In all my life I have never heard such nonsense.

The sangoma asked me to agree with him if what he was telling me is all true. But I couldn’t do that, and I could tell from his facial expression and tone that he didn’t like. First of all, in all my life I’ve only had one boyfriend. At the time he wasn’t married to anyone. Although I dumped him a while ago he is still very much alive and kicking today and as far as I know he is still unmarried. The man continued to shock me even more by adding that I had bad luck, that is why things were not going my way, and that I needed to be cleansed to remove it. To me all these seem like nothing more than a way to get some more money from me.

I turned around and looked at Fridah in the eyes and winked. But the sangoma didn’t end there. He also said that there is a baboon that visits me every night to have sexual intercourse with me.? The sangoma said he could stop these nightly visits. If I did not chase the baboon away, I would never have a husband. I couldn’t bear to listen to him anymore. I started wonder if maybe all sangomas are like this; just taking chances so that they can make loads of money off of people. Was I right all along not to believe in sangomas in the first place?


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