Witch Doctors for Out-of-Control kids

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by TerryJ2, Feb 21, 2009.

  1. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I am not making this up.

    Many of you know that I am editing a book for a guy from Zimbabwe. He grew up during the war and watched his country, Rhodesia, fall from a developing nation to a 3rd World Country after Mugabe took over.

    This guy is really into politics, but a friend and I convinced him that his book would sell better as a memoir.
    So I am helping him dredge up stories from his childhood that are not in the original draft he wrote.

    One is about his out-of-control brother who, when he turned 12 or so, started to have rages, screaming matches, threw furniture, lit clothing on fire, and terrorized the family.
    I have no idea if it was hormones, PTSD from the war, heredity, or a combination, but he terrorized the family.

    In Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, they lag behind in mental health care for two reasons. One is that Mugabe's govn't built hundreds of beautiful new bldgs after Independence in 1980 (IOW, when the country came out of white, British rule) but he did not fund the local govn'Tourette's Syndrome to provide staffing and infrastructure. So these bldgs just sit there with-no one in them, or, they are very, very understaffed.
    Nurses, doctors and therapists who want more pay simply leave the country.

    The other reason they lag behind is because of the long-standing cultural issues of believing in spirits and other gods, including witch doctors (N'anagas) who used to actually do a lot of good, 100 yrs ago, but now, are simply there to make $. (They used to be the only ones who knew how to administer native herbs and natural rememedies, but when faced with-modern diseases like AIDS, they are out of their element.)

    The general population does not believe in schizoaffective disorder, bipolar, Asberger's, depression, or any type of mental illness. Everything that goes wrong with-you is caused by an evil spirit.

    So they call in a N'anga to beat the spirit out of you. It's basically an exorcism.

    I just finished a chapter in the book about his brother's first ceremony. Whew.
    Quite the ordeal. Very dramatic.
    And totally useless.

    I emailed and asked if L's brother improved with-maturity or time. L wrote back and said, "No, he just moved out of the house."
    I don't know why, but it struck me funny.
    Sometimes, that's all you can do.
    The sad part is, that his brother is still volatile, and he's married with-kids. :( If there is anything genetic there (and I think there is, since their dad was an alcoholic), it's going to be passed onto the kids.
    So it's another case of a difficult child raising other g'sfg, and no one has gotten to the root of the problem.

    L stopped believing in N'anagas almost the day he found out what they were. Sometimes they ask for donations of goods, clothing or food to be wrapped up and placed on the side of a mntn or far away from the ceremony, and the spirits will receive it as a gift. Some N'angas ask for $1,000 to be wrapped in a bag and left outside.
    One day he saw some kids retrievng a donated bag of clothing, and he knew the gig was up.

    I had a really bad day with-my difficult child today, but at least I didn't hire a N'anga. When he grows up, I'll tell him how lucky he is. :laugh:
  2. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    :hammer: So THAT'S who I should've taken my difficult child's to!
  3. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Tell you what, pay me, and I'll pretend I'm a N'anga. But you have to wait until I have PMS so I can really act the part. ;)
  4. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Oh, I got your PMS in SPADES the last two days -- does that make me an official N'anga? Or just a NAGa?

    I had to take an extra 1/2 tab of my medications this morning because I was so irritable I thought I was going to crawl out of my skin.

    Didn't help that difficult child 1 was an obnoxious sh*t last night and things escalated into a mouth washing with soap episode... not pretty.

    Where's my voodoo doll when I need it? Zimbabwe's looking pretty good right now...
  5. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I have heard of this. It is pretty barbaric to us, but it is what they believe.

    I have been pressured a number of times to have Wiz be exorcised. By a Catholic Priest, of course, but to me it is a similar process.

    The treatment with N'angas probably happens in this country in the immigrant population from Rhodesia.

    Just like some girls in the Middle East immigrant population are still mutilated under the name of "circumcision". It is not frequent, but it happens.

    Both are repulsive to me. But then so is exorcising a mentally ill person.
  6. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Very interesting Terry........and yet some of it holds true still with our Western civilizations. When I was 20 I was really, really involved in this zealous over the top church. They would "practice" exorcism in the church on Sundays. The really sad part, is that although I left all of that a long time ago, when difficult child started having problems I actually pondered the thought that perhaps he was possessed.

    I guess I should not get off on a religious thread. Sorry. I am not bashing anything or anyone - I just think it is interesting that in every civilization there has to be some sort of answer or "cure" for the "unwanted behaviors in a person" - whether we are a developed country or not - we still fall prey to it.
  7. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Yes, that's the sad part for us moms ... we feel responsible for "fixing" everything, at least, in regard to families.

    The one thing that bugs me about N'angas or anything like that, is that it totally negates personal responsiblity. "The devil made me do it" was funny on Laugh-In yrs ago, but too many people abdicate responsibility that way.

    I'll get off my soapbox now.
  8. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    We have been to Zimbabwe a few years ago. It's beautiful and primitive. I can imagine witch doctors there.
    If he would fix difficult child I'd go to a witch doctor.LOL
  9. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    Well if you think of it as the power of suggestion at work it makes some sense... A form of hypnosis if you will. I think that is why it does work sometimes. Casting out a "deamon" can give a person who is stuck in old negative patterns a fresh start on a new belief system. By sending the negative entity away a defeatist is free to embrace a new sence of self esteem and might morf into a "can do" type. -RM
  10. There is nothing positive about this. Children are tortured and killed because they are allegedly possessed by evil spirits. The sentence "So they call in a N'anga to beat the spirit out of you" sums it up.

    There have been a number of articles and I think there was even a television special on this, although I didn't see it. A quick Internet search on witches and children in Africa will bring out the activist in you.
  11. eekysign

    eekysign New Member

    Like someone else said earlier, this happens here in America, too, where we are supposed to be "educated" and "know better". Cultural differences over there are holding those traditions in place, but you don't have to go all the way to Africa to find these problems. Where are the articles and television specials about the religious groups here in the US that believe differently, to the detriment of their kids? Bah. I just dislike the focus on those "heathens" overseas, when it goes on with some frequency here at home. :tongue:
  12. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    I was not suggesting that these practices were OK only giving reasonss as to why they might still persist in civilaized societies. I do not believe in torture or beatings. But I know for a fact that the power of suggestion can be a catalyst for change. -RM
  13. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    Dat ees some bad ju ju for sure.

    Ugga bugga.....I actually saw n'anga perform a ritual about a child suspected of schizophrenia. It's been years - but it was on the National Geographic station. It was scary, and ineffective other than it literally scared the hell out of the kid. (so-to-speak)

    Did you know about 2 1/2 years ago that Mugabe's or his wife's N'anga was arrested as a hoax? Nice - does your friend speak Shona or Sindabele?

  14. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    I agree with-the power of suggestion. But I think it mostly works with-"normal" kids who already have a well-developed sense of right and wrong, and social mores.

    That is, if you're trying to use something like "reverse psychology," or even a N'anga.

    I've tried the power of suggestion over and over again with-my difficult child and it rarely works, 1) because I'm not a valid source, 2) because I suggest things that have nothing to do with-the way he's thinking at that time and won't register, and 3) because difficult child will do the opposite of whatever I suggest. Then I'm back to "reverse psychology," which inevitably backfires with-him.

    It makes sense that if we have Honor Killings in America, we would have exorcisms.
    I don't have cable TV so I miss a lot of this stuff. (Probably a good thing!) If it's printed in a magazine or online, I'll probably spot it.

    If I ever meet a local kid who is undergoing that sort of treatment, I'm going to have a hard time deciding whether to call CPS. If it went to court, the defense might be freedom of religion. Then the prosecution would be child endangerment. It's a tough call. It would probably be something where I would just act on my gut. Is this kid safe?

    One thing about my client, he's got a sense of humor. He said that at the time of the events, they were scary, but he is so analytical that even as a kid, he could see what was going on. For ex., when the N'anga changed his voice and talked about specific incidents in the household, he could have gotten the info from any # of people prior to that day, just by asking around, but for believers, it was validation of his position as a supernatural conduit.
    One of the ways L described the lion skin outfit this guy wore, when I was having a hard time grasping the visual, was to say, "Like the Flintstones." LOL! OMG, we both burst out laughing.

    So he's got a good point of view--a balance of humor, detachment, and a good understanding for the "why's" of the whole ritual.
  15. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    yes, I knew that Mugabe's staff used N'anagas but he's supposed to be Catholic so I doubt he would admit to it, himself.
    I am sure his wife uses one or several, in between her multiple shopping sprees. :)

    I'd love to see an actual ritual. I wonder if I can find one online? I had to make up a lot of the description in the chapter, just based on one photo, and on my client's basic, almost cryptic description. I think I came pretty darn close, though. I'll find out when he reads the chapter in a few days.

    My client speaks Shona. I think he understands Sindabele. He took a trip to S. Africa a few yrs ago and did not understand one word of anything except English. Lots of diff tribes there.

    Maybe I'll get him to teach difficult child a few phrases next wk. "Please" and "Thank you" would be good starters. :) I have a hard enough time getting difficult child to say those in English!

    The funny thing is, that most computer games and terms are the same in all languages. So difficult child may not need to learn anything at all if he majors in computer technology some day!
  16. Allan-Matlem

    Allan-Matlem Active Member


    Maybe you remember a mom , pretty unconventional , I think - Nature or natural mom - Barbara who went to an exorcist. He found that there were spirits interfering with the kids and dealt with the problem.

  17. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    In the interest of accuracy, I want the board to know that it was Flip Wilson's character "Geraldine" who used the phrase "the Devil made me do it";)
    You have to be 60 y.o. to know that...
  18. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Allen I do remember a member who went to an exorcism. I don't remember that it worked.
    Any time beatings and pain is inflicted by authority I would call CPS.
    Despite my desire to beat my difficult child senseless at times, I do not believe this is a valid parenting technique. It is barbarianism.
    I joked and it was in poor taste. Sorry.
  19. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Three Shadows, LOL. Hey, I quoted that and I'm *only* 51!!! I loved that Geraldine character.

    Wow, I had no idea that any of our members had actually done that, Allan and Fran.
    This is turning out to be an interesting topic in many ways.
  20. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Oh believe me.......exorcisms happen frequently in the US. The only difference is that beating and abuse does not happen like in remote, undeveloped areas - but rather praying, chanting, & screaming...........and blame. That is the part that is most worrisome to me about all of this, is that these religous rituals and beliefs place the onus back on some exterior force, rather than the individual. For me, I used to pray, and take difficult child to church, hoping he would be "cured" - rather than realizing he might actually be ill. I would fast and pray more and more every day - literally thinking that if I did more for God, difficult child would be better. It about killed me, when I realized I could not literally sacrifice myself to God, to make my son better. That is when he was still little, four-ish. At that point I started realizing the balance of religion........God..........the world. It was a huge, long, learning process for me -

    Again, not to rant about religion, but more the culture of beliefs.