By Prince Bill M. Kaping’a Political/Social Analyst
It’s quite disconcerting and outrageous that some of our citizens seem to be still stuck in the Dark Ages and refuse to embrace civilization which requires us to use basic knowledge to make sense of any situation. In this day and age, how can someone honestly buy the notion that wizards can simply strip naked and take to broomsticks to fly to another land to inflict pain on their enemies, easily turn into crocodiles to feast on fellow unsuspecting human beings, or indeed that coffins can move on their own to hunt down suspected killers of corpses contained therein?
The other day, a 75-year-old man of Milambo village, Milenge district in Luapula province mate his fate when a coffin supposedly ‘directed’ the pallbearers wherever he was to punish him for having bewitched a pregnant woman that died during labour! This isn’t a new phenomenon…..a number of our people have continued to die in a similar manner and yet many more continue to do so as society looks away. Those that continue unleashing such a trail of barbaric and heinous crimes in the countryside are uncivilized beings…..nay, savages who ought to be sent back to the Stone Age! This equally applies to those who believe in such utter nonsense!
Come on man……..let’s not be daft; there’s no way a coffin can move on it’s on! I will cite two practical examples to debunk such myths. I equally expect those harbouring contrary beliefs to do the same and adduce evidence. What happened to investigative journalism in this country? I would in fact challenge any journalist interested in this matter to invite me to come along to the countryside as they attempt to probe and dig deeper.
Two years ago, my brother in law and I were driving from Solwezi when we encountered the so-called Chikondo (moving coffin) near St. Dorothy. A partially damaged coffin was resting on the ground as the villagers engaged in a heated argument with the police. The pallbearers were refusing to put the coffin in the police vehicle as ordered by the police so that they could help them take it to the cemetery.
“The coffin is refusing to move,” they insisted. “We’ve to allow it to move and find the wizard!”
My foot! I stepped forward at that juncture and asked for any volunteers to help me load the coffin into the Landcruiser. Little did I realise I had just stirred a hornet’s nest.
“We’re going to skin you alive Mr. Stranger!” a guttural voice snarled behind me.
Like ones suddenly possessed by evil spirits, the villagers ruptured into hysterics. They were seething with deadly anger! In no time, the pall bearers lifted the coffin off the ground and started smashing it against the vehicle as others sought all manner of objects and started raining them on us.
“Ungasiye bana mwami….” One of the cops cried as he took to his heels as the others followed suit. We quickly sought our vehicle and zipped away before the enraged mob could turn their anger on us. No doubt their intention was to mete-out instant justice on us!
How come the pallbearers never allowed me to touch the coffin if indeed it was refusing to move, one would wonder?
Anyway, another example I would like to share was recounted to me by one Zandonda (not real name), a police officer from the Anti-Robbery Squad in Kitwe. He’s a clean-shaven and well-built towering individual who instils fear in the hearts of bandits. He brooks no nonsense; you cross paths with him at your own peril!
Not so long ago, he was instructed to lead a small team to gold-rich Mwinilunga to recover a stolen vehicle from Kitwe which was reportedly heading to one of the neighbouring countries. As per procedure in the police service, they reported to the police in the district to explain their mission. They found the Officer-in-charge crestfallen. His own charges seemed reluctant to disperse the crowd. He became elated upon seeing them and asked if they could help break up the gathering that had gathered to identify the witch who had killed a child at a nearby village.
“Who are the parents of this child?” Zandonda asked as he dramatically cocked his assault rifle.
The mourners and sorcerers were soon scampering in all directions! He suppressed laughter and beckoned them back. He explained to them they had been sent by the Inspector General of Police to stop the nonsense of moving coffins.
“We are ordering you to immediately go and give this child a dignified burial,” he pretended to be very angry. “From here, we are going to the border to sort out a similar problem. We should find this child buried on our way back otherwise we’ll deal with you ruthlessly.”
They managed to recover the stolen Nissan Patrol belonging to one renowned Kitwe-based pastor. Meanwhile, the usually boisterous village was quiet. Their colleagues informed them the villagers had managed to bury the child without any drama. They seemed to have rushed back to their homesteads afterwards and locked themselves in fearing the unknown.
Imagine the police didn’t intervene? One of the senior citizens in the village was definitely going to be targeted and possibly killed or made to part away with a cow or colossal sums of money.
Is this the way we should be treating our senior citizens?