IF you thought digging pit latrines or graves is the hardest job in the world, then you need to think again. I was assigned to hunt for a witchdoctor and I had to prove that witchcraft really exists, and there was no other way to prove this other than bewitching somebody.
At first, I thought this assignment was some kind of bad joke but it turned out I was wrong, I fabricated all tribes of excuses to avoid this task in vain! I even confessed to my boss that I was the world’s worst coward but he could hear none of this.
“Listen”, he said, “You either do it or you do it” he hissed. I had no choice but to do it. I inquired from several people if they had any idea where I could find a witch but with no success! I went home, made dozens of phone calls but all yielded nothing. When I was on the verge of giving up, my 13 year old nephew advised me to ask ‘women’. “Why women?” I asked. “Dah, don’t you watch Nigerians movies?” He asked shooting me a “which-planet do-you-come-from” look.
“Damn kids,” I silently I cursed. But I took his advice anyway, and surprisingly I was given an address by the first lady I asked. She swore she doesn’t consult witchdoctors herself, that she heard about this ‘amazing’ witch from her friend.
She told me that all she knows is that this famous or should I say notorious witchdoctor is called Kiragi and resides at Masaka sector in Kicukiro District about 19km off Kigali- Kayonza road. With this half baked information I took off like a hurricane!
I boarded a Masaka bound taxi after what seemed like eternity, the scrappy dirty taxi made it to Masaka centre putting an end to an awful bumpy, dusty ride. But with every meter we inched the witchdoctor’s territory, the more my adrenaline level raced.
In the back of my head I could clearly see my church Minister throwing the newspaper in my face after reading the article.
I could also picture my mother who happens to be my ardent reader casting her eyes towards the sky and throwing her hands in the same direction as if to say, “Lord we played our part raising this dude in a religious way so please, don’t let his blood be on our hands” and dad also shaking his head in wonderment where all classes of catechism I took vanised to.
Anyway, I asked a good number of Masaka residents if they knew anything about this witch but all I could get was a cold ‘No’. Deep inside I knew they simply didn’t want to tell me. I even went to a restaurant and shared with the local’s breakfast thinking this will make them friendly enough to tell me but wapi! as I was about to throw in the towel and declare this a ‘mission impossible’, I saw a Rasta man standing at the entrance of his hair- salon, I said to myself , Rasta’s are known to be open-minded people, so I approached him.
But there’s something about village people, they seem to dislike town people, they look at you like you are a leaper or a vector of an incurable disease. This particular Rasta was no difrent.After chatting a little, I decided to take a haircut and see if I could get him to tell me something. After sitting in the rickety chair and he wrapped a brownish apron that had seen better days, I asked him directly, why do you people (upcountry people) hate town folks? You look at us like we have some weird contagious diseases!
“Town people treat villagers like we are second class citizens, you all have an annoying sense of superiority”, he accused. I nodded my head in agreement. Later I asked why they don’t easily give information, even if you asked the price of tomatoes. “You can’t know who you are talking to or how that person is going to use that information, besides, Rwandans are naturally reserved people” he said.
Sensing that he wasn’t going to help, I decided to change the ploy,” can you direct me where I can buy some weed?” I asked trying to sound weedy, “yeah man, why not?” he lit up straight away! I bought him some stuff and he gave me the information I needed but warned me not to play games with him. The last one who tried went blind” he cautioned.
The trip to the shrine took less than twenty minutes; the boda-boda guy stopped a couple of meters away from the shrine and pointed at the small house in the reed fence. With a quivering stomach I paid him and tread slowly whispering ‘our lord’s prayer’.
I was welcomed by Mr.Kiragi, a man who seemed to have difficulty with speech, he motioned me to sit down, but before I could sit, some lady unwrapped some sort of igitenge and dusted dirt off the wooden bench. Though the igitenge was dirtier than the bench, the action symbolized a 5 star treatment.
With an ear to ear smile, my host offered me a bottle of Baileys, only this time it was filled to dregs with banana wine locally known as urwagwa. He didn’t bother asking me if a drink alcohol or not, I think he thought to himself, if I was bold enough to come and consult the dead then drinking should be the least of my worries.
He stood there wearing a silly permanent smile waiting for me to take the fist sip. “I don’t drink,” I told him,” I’m a born again Christian. “You are not allowed to drink but free to bewitch people? He asked in sign language?”
I wanted to scream “I’m not here to bewitch anyone, it’s just a bloody assignment!” but I knew that would be blowing my cover! Anyway, I was rescued by a woman in her late 60’s; “You are here to see me? She asked. Before I could answer, she commanded me to follow her into a small grass thatched shrine of a sort.
If you are here to see Muganga then that’s me, not him, she said pointing a dirty finger at Kiragi. “He is my husband and the usher,” the witch schooled me.
By this time, my heart was beating like a bass drum! The heavy odour coming from her tobacco pipe was more than my stomach could take! I was sweating like a teenage pig. There in front of me, the witch was boiling some strange concoction in a small earthen pot, and making weird passes above it and mumbling strange, repetitive chants.
“Young man how can I help you?” she asked in a weird voice, sounding like a xylophone made out of immature wood, waking me from the stupor .This is when I remember that I didn’t know what my supposed ailment or business was supposed to be.
I cursed my job and my boss who chose to give me this task. I made up my mind to revenge and bewitch my boss for giving me such a wicked assignment! I bowed my head and said a silent prayer asking the most high to forgive me for the sin I was about to commit. “It’s my boss …” I told the witch.