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Going back to the future

A rising tide of crime is to invoke witchcraft. (Photo:Courtesy)

By Benson Riungu

Certain things happen that force memoirs, however entertaining, to momentarily take a back seat. An example is the current behaviour of Karembo, the spectacularly built object of many a man’s erotic dreams in my village, as chronicled last week.

The other is the current subject of animated discussion in Uturine Village, where a string of strange deaths have occurred in the past couple of weeks.

Some time ago, I told you that the residents of that blighted area have engaged reverse gear in their beliefs, and are ‘going back to the future’, as someone once colourfully put it. From the chief to the sergeant in charge of the local police station, everyone firmly believes that the most effective way to combat a rising tide of crime is to invoke witchcraft.

Thus, the most valued person these days is not the pastor or priest, nor is it the local administrator or police officer. It is the witchdoctor.

In the last two weeks, a number of young men have either died or taken their lives. Word has it that this have everything to do with some thefts that occurred in and around the village a while back, and the appearance in the locality of a witchdoctor who is reputed to produce deadly results.

Briefly, the deaths are claimed to be associated with a couple of break-ins at a certain bar, where the burglars not only stole money, but helped themselves to generous amounts of booze. In the morning, the local roustabouts helped themselves to the remaining beers, wines and spirits.

When the aforementioned witchdoctor was invited to deal with the thefts, it is claimed that he removed all his clothes, and, while stark naked, invited whoever was responsible to own up or the consequences would make those fellows reported to have eaten grass in Nyeri County seem like guests at a church feast. The witchdoctor warned that those who failed to confess would hang themselves.

No one confessed, and so — according to village talk — the deaths started. The first, I hear, involved two policemen at the local police post who mysteriously hanged themselves. Thereafter, a young man of suspicious behaviour was caught at cockcrow, with rope he was about to tie to the stout branch of a tree near his home.

Suspecting that the young man’s intentions were not pure, the rope was promptly snatched away. He is not done though, for it is said he told his rescuers that what they had taken was not the only rope in existence.

“The shops are full of ropes,” he is reported to have defiantly said.

These days, shopkeepers are cautioned to beware young men who come asking for ropes. Villagers are also on the lookout for anyone sizing up trees as if they were timber merchants. Who knows, the intention might be to see if the branches are strong enough to support their weight.

I have called my village blighted, and with a reason. Apart from the deaths, other equally strange things have been happening here. Take the case of a certain neighbour of mine who ran off to the neighbouring village with a woman of easy virtue, leaving behind a young bride whom the men in Uturine have reason to look at covetously.

The other day, the man stole back to the village while everyone was busy in their shambas, broke into his own house and stole his own clothes. Everyone is justifiably scandalised.

Or another neighbour whose wife ran away a couple of years ago, leaving him to fend for his young children.  For some reason — the more religiously inclined villagers say the Lord had touched her heart — the woman reappeared last month, with a sack of potatoes.

A week later, however, she disappeared again as mysterious as she had reappeared. What amazed the village is that shortly thereafter, the man also followed suit and took a powder.

Now, you’ll agree that that’s a strange village.