mercredi 11 juillet 2012

Witchcraft in the heart of power*

This is certainly sub-Saharan Africa that the world of the unseen alongside with the attendance of more than politics. Travel in the backyards of the palace to go to meet marabouts, fetishists and other magicians ...
         Warning: marshland, moreover undermined stereotypes and other prejudices. And politically incorrect as it refers again - and obviously wrongly - the image of a captive African traditions and frozen in time.
         And yet: the invisible world and its people of sorcerers, magicians, witch doctors, wise men, healers, sangomas, and other ngangas ndokis are more than ever an inseparable part of the private and public life on the continent.
         At the heart of the political and economic, to the point that it is permissible to ask whether Africa with which to discuss donors and embassies is not a sham. This use of the occult on the part of the powerful is certainly not an African specificity.
         It is not uncommon in Asia, and even if this is a well kept secret, no one knows the initiated in France the Presidents François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac and a number of known deigures of the Fourth Republic as Edgar Faure were "clients" of this fascinating diligent.
         In the Arab-Muslim political world, the leaders now extinct such Hassan II, Mo’ammar Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein and King Hussein of Jordan have walked these unknown territories and freely consulted the invisible procurers. Probably they were not alone in doing so.
         But nowhere else in sub-Saharan Africa this cultural phenomenon is rooted. From Senegal to South Africa, no political career without "protection"
against the opponents, even if it means that this defensiveness is sometimes coupled with criminal practices referred to witches.
         Just as there is no weddings, football matches, exams, illnesses, deaths, business management or scams that only take account of this context. One thing is certain: contrary to popular belief at the time of independence, witchcraft has not disappeared with the widespread use of electricity and education. It has adapted to economic and political progress. Fifty years later, it did not even reach as well.


         At the time of single parties and leaders omnipotent, until early 1990, without excessive modesty that "presidents for life"
are surrounded by fetish priests and marabouts and join guilds became ipso facto agencies of social advancement. Houphouet, Mobutu, Eyadema, Ahidjo, Bokassa, Sekou Toure ...
         The list is long, especially since the political struggle, fierce and often bloody, is readily assimilated in the hunt for witches. The amalgam is then common among opponents and "dark forces". Daniel Arap Moi, Hastings Kamuzu Banda and very progressive Mathieu Kerekou and Thomas Sankara was not the last to use a vocabulary-mystical zoologico to denounce the "owls", the "snakes" and other "dual-shelled turtles."
We send lots and we send them back, it is "blind" to protect themselves, they bury live animals ...
         It is accusing them of witchcraft as the leader of UNITA, Jonas Savimbi, had run some of its own competitors, and even the very weighted Thabo Mbeki, ANC leader in exile, did not hesitate to mobilize its supporters against his rival Zulu Buthelezi - great fetish priest before the Lord - the cry of "aba bulala thakathi! "(" Kill the wizards! ").
         But nowhere else than in the former Zaire, Mobutu Sese Seko of the use of contractors in occultism been so massive. In the mid-1990s, when the late twilight of Marshal undermined by cancer, the marabouts rented at exorbitant prices by his family in Senegal, Mauritania and Mali occupied an entire floor of the Intercontinental Hotel in Kinshasa, and has been known, by the testimony delivered What Dominique Sakombi Inongo and Jean de Dieu Nguza Karl-I-Bond, how witchcraft was at the heart of this republic rotting.
         Need we recall the case of this minister who confessed publicly to having slept beside corpses under a pact with the devil supposed to ensure the continuity of his post? If a plan one day earned the name "witch power" is perhaps the last years of Mobutu ...


         Have things changed since, with the coming into power, in many parts of the continent, a younger political class, more democratic and increasingly globalized world? Nothing is less certain. If very few political leaders today or opinion to recognize such use techniques called traditional, it is clear that they coexist perfectly with Internet use. Bamako in Brazzaville, no election without intervention of this kind, no ministerial portfolio without intercession and not attempted coup that would deprive itself of such an asset.
         The pre-election periods or those which precede changes of government are by far the most favorable. We send lots and we send them back, it is "blind" to protect themselves, they bury live animals, swallowing all kinds of concoctions, it is scarified, and the tabloids Cameroon, Gabon, but also South African, Kenyan and Nigerian have made a specialty of reporting crimes rituals, muti murders committed sometimes on young children.
         Almost all social actors, including priests, pastors and imams, believes in the power of the invisible evil that some try to escape by multiplying the slope religious rites unbewitching.
         With greater ease than new entrepreneurs in mysticism are often hybrid, shepherds the day, Bible in hand, sorcerers at night with their little bag filled with amulets. The anchor is so deep that even the politicians who do not believe it should be to deceive, if only to reassure their associates and supporters. If a question is moot because, it is that of credulity.
         Witchcraft exists because there are millions of people who are convinced, and the facts, however irrational they may seem, have proven the moment we believe in it.
         No public figure in Africa can not pretend that this phenomenon was within the mere fantasy, the risk of looking like a UFO in the eyes of the people.


         In some variations, the Heads of State (and their spouses) of the post ¬ independence did little to envy their seniors.
         South African Jacob Zuma is fully aware of talismans Zulu, and the Ivorian Laurent Gbagbo, who has always refused to enter the chamber of the presidential residence in Cocody, where slept Houphouet-Boigny (unlike his wife Simone, who, "had the courage,"
told us there one day), feared witches Baoulé while devoting full trust pastors sulfur.
         As never goes out without being accompanied by his magic briefcase, another hides his fetish in a room adjacent to convention center where he is expected to speak, a third coating the hands of a protective balm before each hearing to ensure its domination of the speaker, a fourth was in his private bathroom an impressive collection of strange vials to content.
         All or nearly all, including those, profiles Bretton Woods, affect to despise these "superstitions" politically incorrect, consult experts in the art prior to each new government, every major policy decision and every move a little bit risky.
         These marginal and secret advisers collectively constitute a kind of ghost Prime Minister. They are generally feared and hated by the chief of staff, who obviously used the same type of practices to maintain position and influence.
         Powers will be more transparent, reduce the mystical explanation.
         Why the resilience of the invisible in a world supposed to become more visible? By opening the arena of fierce competition between ambitious politicians, the African democratization and the emergence of multi-market have multiplied witchcraft.
         The opening policy has ushered in an era of uncertainty and vicissitudes conducive to occult forces and professionals of its kind, which compete with each other on the bottom of bargains to be seized.
         The best "medicine" belongs to him who pays the best, the powers that are deemed to have the best wizards, which does not prevent the opponents - especially in Central Africa - also to recruit within their village and ethnicity.


         Even if the government does more in private practice as before, feeding rumors of recurrent nocturnal sabbaths, the unpredictable, abrupt, sometimes illogical and often subjective decisions at the top of the state - such as government changes announced to the concerned by a televised statement - that the use of the occult is often the only way to explain, as the only way to influence mechanisms opaque and elusive.
         Ditto for the race to the enrichment in rapidly growing countries: lack of rule of law in effect, the criteria that determine the award of procurement or competition regulation are far from being respected and obeyed imperatives as few goals as tribalism, nepotism or jealousy.
         In the sanitized world of the economy, air-conditioned offices of major banks and local oil companies, it is not unusual to be done on the talents of interpreters of the unseen to understand the motivations of a government decree or those wizards to cripple the rival bidder for a tender.
         It goes without saying that the sympathetic EU official mission for the IMF or the World Bank there hoodwinked. It also goes without saying that in the field of business and their accumulation, the irrational forces offer a convenient explanation for frustrated ambitions.
         In Cameroon, for Betis deemed not talented in this area, the financial success of entrepreneurs Bamiléké be explained largely by appropriate forms of witchcraft.

Recipe for survival during elections

         This is one example among many: the Congo - Brazzaville, which will be held July 15, 2012 parliamentary elections eagerly awaited, the witch doctors are overworked. Many candidates use their paid services to protect against mwanzas (spells causing a sudden illness) that their opponents are not without their start by sorcerers interposed.
         Basic recipe for self-defense: a small ceremony at home or in nature, in which the expert you will ingest a half dozen balls of herbal and oil palm, kola nuts and a bitter drink, after you have coated the forehead and cheeks with white chalk. All accompanied by incantations.
         If you want your armor is strong enough to return the Mwanza to the sender with tenfold strength, you must provide at least his picture, an object belonging to him or else end the end, some of her hair and fragments his nails - which requires complicity in his entourage.
In general, 30 000 CFA (about 46 euros) and the price of a taxi suffice for this elementary operation.
         But there are other, far more sophisticated and considerably more expensive. Bury cattle alive for example, as is done in pre-election period, needs to have the means.


         To finally understand this extraordinary adaptability, integration, almost swallowed reciprocal of the sorcerer and African economic development, we must tap away the politics from below.
         Beyond the village is within the family, the heart of intimacy, that are formed, for managers as well as the anonymous, plots the most disturbing. The most dangerous attacks, such as those in the two Congos and Gabon, for example, lead an uncle to "eat" his nephew, or that minister to "vampirize"
one of his own children to better consolidate his power , are not as fantasy, but suspicion frequent and sometimes deadly realities.
         No man or woman can escape the political dark side of relationship where we understand the hint, where the allusion is the rule and often tragic misunderstanding.
         Yet if this form of belief is probably too deeply rooted to disappear and if the spread of new technologies, far from the set back, has instead extended the caste to which the powerful sorcerers have recourse to Indian gurus, the true-false versed in Kabbalah rabbis and followers European or Japanese, to claim a growing number of citizens of the continent to greater transparency in public affairs may be right in the magic power.
         As popular belief persists that the secret is consubstantial with the exercise of the state, it can play at will of its mysterious character. But most governments will be forced to be transparent, so readable, the automatic nature of the witch explanation for their actions and they will decrease demystified.
         This movement is on, and the time is near when Africa will not stand more than the hard core of witchcraft intimate and daily times of crisis and uncertainty. As in the West supposedly "désorcelé"
which still flourish, such poisonous plants, these conspiracy theories riddled with innuendo, interpretations and occultations, who argue that Kennedy was assassinated on the orders of Johnson, Sept. 11, 2001, has never occurred and Mohamed Merah was an agent of the French intelligence services ...
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*By  François Soudan, Jeune Afrique No. 2686 from 1 to July 7, 2012.

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