Families of the once revered traditional healers or witchdoctors still bask in the glory of their patriarchs, minting thousands of shillings from the high and mighty and poor alike and laughing all the way to the bank.

In Siaya County families of the late Mayamba, Odongi, Achola Ywaya, Opondi, Owiti paka to an’gadi,Abonyo Oyombe join the long list of scions using the prowess of witchcraft to eke a living.

In one of the homes in Ugunja a witchdoctor’s widow hangs her late husband’s paraphernalia ranging from hones, human hands, gourds, herbs and ashy concoctions believed to clear bad omen.

Local opinion leader Barack Oselu says people who visit these waganga in broad daylight are mostly the poor, those with land problems, domestic issues, incurable diseases and those who blame a string of misfortunes to witchcraft. But under the cover of darkness, fuel guzzlers rev in the neighbourhood at top speed, depositing high ranking politicians, members of clergy, criminals who believe the charms will protect them. Others are gold diggers seeking rich husbands and those battling failed marriages.

According to Kisii University scholar Dr Stephen Oluoch, most diviners rely on the dead for their knowledge. Consultation with the dead is done in the dark. Only he can see and talk to the spirits. Most of the time the patient will hear the voice of the spirit conversing with the diviner.

Witchcraft is a mystical power by which some people are thought to be able to harm or kill others when they do not like them, whereas sorcery is the use of some material object for the same purpose. Witches and sorcerers among the Luo are known as “jojuogi”. This word has its root in spiritism. It means “aligned to the spirits.”

Witchcraft power is seen as misapplied power and abuse of it. Usually a man accused of witchcraft feels offended and denies it. Women with evil eyes are also grouped with witches and sorcerers.

Luo cousins from the land of mulembe also believe in witchcraft, but while they have their own witchdoctors, they are known to import juju from Ukambani, Ukambani and Uganda.

- Kenneth Ogosia


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