Wednesday, April 22, 2009

When I was in my early teens, Mom implemented a curfew where I had to be in the house before dark. Like every teenager I was stroppy and outraged. Mom explained, “I guess a new witch doctor has moved into the area, because there have been several witchcraft related killings recently. They could tell because the hearts, livers and fingers had been removed. Your father and I are just concerned that since you and your sister are the only white kids around, that might make you a target.”

I bet, if that witchdoctor hadn't moved into town or if he had used normal, non-human ingredients for his witchcraft stew, I would have turned into a total party animal. I would probably be out late every night carousing and club hopping instead of sitting quietly at home playing computer scrabble with the blinds drawn and the doors barred and bolted.

I'm passing through Tanzania now and took a few days off in Dar. You maybe saw in the news how a bunch of albino people here have been killed for witchcraft. My understanding is that it's often in rural areas where everyone knows everyone. For one killing where they had a suspect, it was an acquaintance of the albino guy who lured him away from his house at night.

I think Tanzania has more albino people than other countries I have been to. Perhaps I just notice them more in light of the news.

So far no foreigners have been killed. Our wealth helps us some ways. The local police protect us, to protect the tourism industry. Our relatives and friends would hunt the killers down. Expats get used to operating at higher security levels because people are trying to rob us all the time. We have our walls, razor wire, security guards, burglar bars, dogs and guns.

6 comments:

ish said...

What a sad thing to be killed by neighbors and friends.

wally said...

What does 'stroppy' mean?

Dan Carpenter said...

wally: Stroppy means obstreperous.

Melissa Schlichting said...

One time when I was a kid, I went for a walk in the fields with my dog, Toby. All of a sudden, Toby spotted a mouse, chased it, caught it, then flung it in the air a few times. Mortified at the mouse's suffering, I yelled, "NO! TOBY! DROP IT!" Then I picked up the mouse to protect it from my evil dog. We were walking for a few minutes until I suppose the mouse got confused who the good guy was and decided to bite my finger. I threw the mouse down and yelled, "TOBY! GET IT! EAT IT!" Dogs are good, obedient animals. After that, I was too scared to tell my parents the story because, well, let's face it, that wasn't one of my shining moments. So I spent the next few weeks worrying that I, too, had rabies.

Melissa Schlichting said...

Apparently I published this comment on the wrong post. My bad.

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