If I had the power of God, I would have made every African president and any other politician read the May/June issue of Foreign Policy (FP) magazine (it’s available at the good news stands in Nairobi). Baptised the “Food Issue”, it examines in extremely brilliant and insightful articles the question of food prices around the world; and how much longer it will be before most of us go hungry.
One measure of good writing is that it should be able to shed light on things other than the direct subject it is tackling.FP’s “Food Issue” does that, because it also helps us to understand why we tend to have too many witches and evil witchdoctors in places like Africa; and why most of them are old women, or grey-haired old men. In Kenya last year, there was an epidemic of killing grey-haired men in the coastal area, and in the western region in recent months, the murder of witches has risen sharply.
One of the FP food articles says that when food is scarce or becomes too expensive, there is always a rise in the killing of members of society who are thought to be too old to work, or who have “lived long enough”.
The real reason these people are killed is to remove them from the dinner table and allocate the food that would have gone to them to young “able-bodied” members of society. Witch killing is primarily, if you like, a coping mechanism in times of food shortage.
Because the UN has warned that the wider East African region will be hit hard by food shortages in the months to come, you can expect to see more old women being accused of being witches and banished from the village or murdered, and old men being ambushed in the night and beheaded. And, needless to say, people with albinism (who find difficulty working in the sun for long) will be also at greater risk. Countries such as Tanzania and Burundi are notorious for attacks on them….”