Mombasa, Kenya’s vacationing paradise for both local and international tourists, is home to many witch doctors. A casual stroll in the streets reveals all manner of advertisements involving magic and related clairvoyant sciences.
The posters on lamp posts, trees and walls promise solutions to all problems. From love portions to awakening dying embers, aphrodisiacs, tracing lost relatives to finding a lover or job and warding off ill luck, demons and spirits. Some magicians claim they can provide medicine or concoctions to prevent sexual infidelity among wives or husbands.
But this scenario is likely to change after the county started an operation to pull down all posters advertising activities and expertise of the said medicine men.
Speaking on Tuesday during the Mashujaa Day celebrations, County Commissioner Nelson Marwa ordered the arrest of all witch doctors operating in the county and the removal of the posters, saying they portrayed a bad image of the county and had a negative effect on tourism.
Marwa said the posters were just a way of conning people. “All the posters advertising witch doctors should be removed immediately and all those who are in the business be arrested. The posters are an eyesore and not good for tourism as well as for children,” said Marwa.
The county commissioner said the culture must come to an end, adding it promotes superstition and tarnishes the county’s reputation.
Yesterday, county officials began pulling down the posters as the crackdown kicked off.
The inspectorate team also set the advertising posters on fire.
However, some locals claimed that this was an exercise in futility, saying the posters would be replaced at night by hirelings.
During the operation, two men purported to be witch doctors operating in Kisauni were arrested by officers from the Mombasa Inspectorate Department.
For the better part of yesterday morning, the county inspectorate team removed posters in Kongowea, Leisure, Mshomoroni and other parts of Kisauni.
Senior Inspector Superintendent James Kinara said he had received an order from the County Director of Inspectorate to lead the operation to flush out the witch doctors so that they could also pay taxes, saying that the posters are not allowed to be placed all over the streets.
“I got an order from the inspectorate to pull down these posters advertising witch doctors’ services. The posters are not supposed to be put all over since they are making the county dirty and in fact, the said medicine men are supposed to pay taxes,” said Kinara.
However, the exercise did not go down well with some residents, who claimed that the witch doctors were very helpful and that the posters should not be removed.
One of the residents of Mshomoroni, Juma Ismael, said the traditional healers had solutions to quite a number of problems and ailments that cannot be treated in hospitals.
“There are conditions that are not treatable in hospitals and only the traditional healers are able to offer solutions. Therefore, pulling these posters down is not a good idea,” said Ismael.
But Josphat Charo supported the county’s move, saying it was necessary to pull down the posters as one of the ways of making their county clean.