Friday, March 26, 2010

Witchcraft - performance assessment

According to an article in the Nairobi Standard, witchdoctors are sometimes held accountable for their work - in West Pokot district a few days ago a witchdoctor ended up in hospital after being beaten up for failing to perform as promised. Two boys from his village had paid him to help them pass their school leaving exams, forking over thirty thousand Kenyan shillings - about 280 euros - for his services. The witchdoctor gave them some herbs "and other black substances" to eat before each paper. The boys had full confidence in this procedure, apparently without reference to what they actually wrote down in the exams - they told their friends and parents that they'd performed brilliantly. Their actual results, however, were dire. When they learned how badly they'd done one fainted while the other one "screamed for help" - a mob gathered and duly went off to punish the witchdoctor - not for being a bogus old fraud who preyed on the gullibility of young men but because his charms had failed to deliver the goods. No criticism of the young men themselves is stated or implied - one of them is quoted as saying "We could not compare our lives to the money he wanted. Good academic performance would shape our lives forever." But surely... if the witchcraft had worked... it would have been cheating?

Above: random photos from Kenya.

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