In his book Witches Still Live, Theda Kenyon says ‘the blackest chapter in the history of Witchcraft lies not in the malevolence of Witches but in the deliberate, gloating cruelty of their prosecutors’. True to his words, an ugly drama unfolded when a witch’s tools of trade were unwillingly exposed thanks to heavy downpour.
Mombasa County was one of the areas hit by the floods following the heavy rains. Kanze (not her real name) an old but feared woman who lives in solitude at an old grass-thatched house was met by an ugly mob after her house was almost swept away by the floods following the heavy rains.
Weird apparatuses were spotted floating by curious villagers from her house. This prompted them to think that they had enough exhibits to prove what they had all along been suspecting. That Kanze is a witch! A gourd with black substance oozing from inside, chicken feathers, bat remains, snake skins and the like.
Alarm was raised and despite the chilly weather and the massive floods, everyone in the neighborhood wanted to have a glimpse of the materials and perhaps unleash kicks and blows on the poor old woman who was by this time extremely shaken by the turn of events.
She was accused of being behind the spate of stillborn babies experienced by young mothers at the village.
Kanze was flashed out from her wobbling house by the irate mob baying for her blood and made to drink from the flood waters while holding her paraphernalia. She was then frog matched to open air where all could see the great falling of a witch.
But before they left her premises, a villager who apparently had lagged behind scouting for any other materials of interest which could have been left in the house came out yelling at the top of his voice claiming that he had been bitten by a large snake on his head.
Some of the villagers on hearing this ran helter-skelter fearing that the witch might have evoked spirits to come to her rescue on a revenge mission. The courageous however remained.
One local had suggested they enforce a ligature around the victim’s neck in a bid to stop the venom from going to the heart!
He was strongly rebuked with some citing that he was being used by evil spirits to influence others in strangling the innocent man to death. And perhaps let the witch go scot free in the process. It was later established that indeed the man had not been bitten by any snake.
In the ensuing confusion, police arrived after a tip off and rescued the woman something which did not augur well with the villagers. This is because they had intended to take the law into their own hands. The officers took her to the nearest police station for further investigations.
By: Kang’ong’oi Nyaciuma
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