NO WITCHCRAFT

Kaya elders oppose ban on herbalists, witch doctors in Magarini

Say they are healers who offer alternative medicine to treat ailments just like in hospitals

In Summary

• Magarini deputy county commissioner Mbiuki Mutembei banned witch doctors from working in the subcounty on grounds of practising witchcraft. 

• Mutembei said last month that any witch doctor found working shall be arrested and charged in court.

Mijikenda Kaya elders in Kilifi have opposed the ban on witch doctors and herbalists from offering their services in Magarini.

Mijikenda Kaya elders in Kilifi have opposed the ban on witch doctors and herbalists from offering their services in Magarini. 

The elders from the Malindi District Cultural Association (MADCA) said witch doctors are not wizards and are not responsible for the killing of suspected witches.

They said the witch doctors are healers who offer alternative medicine to treat ailments just like doctors in hospitals. 

Magarini deputy county commissioner Mbiuki Mutembei banned witch doctors from working in the subcounty on grounds of practising witchcraft. 

Mutembei said last month that any witch doctor found working shall be arrested and charged in court.

But Joseph Mwarandu, MADCA secretary general and Kaya elder, said there is a big difference between witch doctors and wizards and witches.

Mwarandu said Mijikenda healers are within their constitutional right to conduct traditional activities.

“We were shocked to hear the office of the DCC banned witch doctors in Magarini because elders are being killed because of witchcraft, this is not right,” he said.

Mwarandu wondered why witch doctors are taken to be wizards or aiding the killing of witches.

“If witch doctors are banned then Magarini residents will have been denied their constitutional rights which is not right,” he said.

 
 
 

The secretary-general said the law needs to be changed to differentiate between a witch and a witch doctor.

 

He said witchcraft, which is part of the culture of the Mijikenda has been discussed for so long.

To the elders, he said, there is a process to identify a witch and who is punishable once proved to be one.

Mwarandu said that instead of the government banning witchcraft they should engage elders to look for a way of handling the cases of witchcraft. 

“You can see somebody suffering from HIV and it was justified by the doctors, but once that person dies elders are victimised. This is not right,” he said.

Stanslus Kiraga, one of the founders of MADCA, said the banning of witch doctors by a government official was sad.

He said Kenyans fought the colonialist to get freedom, including of practising their culture and traditions, which is now being denied.

Kiraga said witchcraft was used by elders to fight the British colonialists and prevent them from the injustices that were being done.