Nollywood Effect: Witchcraft goes mainstream in Uganda

Friday April 10 2009

One of the more dramatic stories that closed the month of March was the arrest of a witchdoctor in Entebbe.

Witchdoctors have been much in the news in Uganda recently over ritual murders of infants.

They claim to use the bodies of “pure” people, in this case children, to channel wealth to their clients.

They are thus as bad as the fellows in Tanzania who are driving the hunting of albino people by claiming that their body parts can help you grow rich if treated in certain ways.

This Entebbe witchdoctor was not as violent as the above types.

But he was as big as shame to the nation as the Australian lecher who fathered many kids with his confined daughter.


What the Entebbe fellow was doing was to dispense a cure-all concoction that was neatly packed in sealed plastic bottles.

You don’t want to know the composition of the concoction but well, here it is: Stuff from his rectum and bladder.

Entebbe, long known as the town of the enlightened because it was the seat of the colonial government and the entire civil service for many years after independence, was actually making news over witchcraft for the second time in as many weeks.

A week earlier, the “traditional healers had met to deliberate on whether the methods one of their own was using to treat headaches should be recognised nationwide.

The Entebbe headache-healer’s method was to dig a grave, make the patient lie in it and be buried for a short while then be pulled out, ostensibly healed.

The council of traditional healers was still discussing ways of exporting and domesticating this “revolutionary” treatment to different districts of the country when the cure-all guy emerged.

It is amazing how traditional healers have become mainstream over the past one-and-a-half decades.

It probably has something to do with the restoration of traditional rulers in the early to mid-1990s.

All manner of cultural practices re-emerged, commercialised of course, and the witchdoctors also sneaked in.

What is worth noting is that according to our laws, practising witchcraft is supposed to earn stiff jail sentences. But the law is hardly applied.

It appears our law enforcers have been watching so many Nigerian movies that they think it is normal for people to practise witchcraft.

One has to go to extremes of feeding people on excreta or killing a child to be arrested for witchcraft-related offences.

So welcome to Kampala and exercise all the witchcraft you want, as long as you don’t kill children.