October 21st, 2011
Black magic, or as its locally called muthi (moo-tee), is much to all Swazis dismay present here in Swaziland.
Of course no one has seen it but its here and is to blame for many trouble, like the current drought. When having a conversation about this with a neighbor I smiled and told him to do a rain dance to call the rains. He just stared at me and didn’t think my idea so funny. Muthi is no laughing matter of course. He then went on to explain that a witch doctor could even make lightening strike a person if he/she or someone else asked them to. Swaziland does have a high rate of human lightening strikes so maybe my neighbor has a point. He asked if there was white magic.
I took this opportunity to explain the Salem Witch Trials and introduce the great American holiday Halloween. I was having a hard time explaining this to other people but I finally figured out what to call it: A night of Muthi. I explained we dress up in disguises to hide from the magic and children take the chance to collect treats rather then tricks, and we carve faces into pumpkins to scare off the evil spirits of the night. Explaining it from the perspective of Swazi culture makes the whole holiday sounds bonkers, but I have never had a more superstitious desire to scare away evil spirits then I do here. It must be all the muthi hanging about or the fact that the darkness of night is a really scary thing here. Did I mention I live next to a graveyard? Anyone up for an séance this Halloween?