Outdated Practices-the Ugly Side.

2 Jun

So the general feeling is that wherever we went, we felt that the people and place was the most amazing. We felt that the culture was incredible and wished ‘why couldn’t people back home be like this?’ The humility, hospitality, true compassion and care, love, generosity etc that was given to us and that was practiced commonly. I often marvelled at this and tried to find one fault. For the first three months I thought I was living in paradise and that this could be a utopian society!

However, as the months went by, I began to see the ugly side. I began to see the effects poverty has on peoples actions. I began to see the outdated, dangerous and inhumane side of widespread practiced traditions and culture. I saw the injustices caused by politics and those with power (in Africa, this means money). At one stage I was pulled over and fined for driving with an expired Australian driver’s license. They don’t even have expiry dates on licenses in Swaziland/South Africa, yet I was booked for not flying back to Australia and renewing my license and flying all the way back just to drive! Truth was the cops just wanted money from a ‘rich white guy’. I gave them an equivalent to $5.

The most shocking aspect that affected me the most was the outrageous cultural practices conducted on albinos. Some reports suggest there are about 150000 albinos living in Tanzania, North of Swaziland. Naturally, there are many living in Swaziland also. I was blessed to befriend an albino lady, Precious, who I got to spend some time with her and her family. As Africans are still very superstitious and cultural, they still hold the belief that body parts of albinos are useful for voodoo, or traditional African witchcraft. Sadly, this belief is still held by ‘educated’ people-ministers, police, teachers-essentially everyone from each end of the social and intellectual spectrum. If police cannot solve a crime, they commonly resort to witch doctors to provide mutti (mixture of herbs etc) used to ‘help’ the case!

witch doctor I visited who gave us mutti mixed in this bowl-ingredients included various herbs and a feather from a rare bird that he wanted us to catch in the wild! Instead we bought it from the local market.

Talk about backwards! Anyway, back to mistreatment of albinos-about a month before I left Swaziland, I read in the paper that two infant siblings had been decapitated and killed. Shocking? Not as much as the next caption I read a week later: that these kids’ graves were dug up so that the rest of their body parts can be taken and used for mutti of various kinds. I even read reports that many political leaders in Africa (yes elected leaders) still practice this and hold to the belief that albino body parts can bring prosperity and success.

Precious, Nogubekezele, myself and Gugu

learning guitar by my friend Xolani (the 'X' is pronounced with a 'click' !!!

Shame. Outdated cultural and traditional practices. Disregard for humanity.

My thoughts now are: did anyone else experience the ugly side of where you served?

Despite this all, the practices of the minority did not in any way tarnish the reputation and love and respect I still hold for the majority. What I believe is that tradition and culture are positives, but are only useful and relevant today if they contribute to the society we live in now. Outdated practices should be left behind so that humanity can ascend higher and achieve more purposeful realities.


7 Responses to “Outdated Practices-the Ugly Side.”

  1. angelenepenguin June 2, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    Woah this is eye opening, thanks for sharing it. I knew that witch doctors are highly revered in Africa however I did not know that it was to the extent of murder and exhumations. That is revolting. And I say that with sensitivity because it is after all their cultural practice and who am I to impose a moral judgment. So I definitely agree with your sentiment, “outdated practices should be left behind so that humanity can ascend higher and achieve more purposeful realities.” It is truly unfortunate when nation’s leaders sanction this abuse and operate for gain and their prosperity. Corruption has to be one of the worst things, it thwarts a country’s progression.

  2. jyd89 June 4, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

    The saddest part, Angelene, is that what leaders, and many ordinary people, are fighting for will vanish from their midst the second they vanish from this earth!
    Whats the point of accumulating ridiculous sums of wealth for one’s well-being at the expense of others lives when it will all amount to nothing in the end?

  3. angelenepenguin June 6, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

    I completely agree with you. I read this article yesterday and thought about your blog… http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2011/jun/02/nigeria-baby-farm-raided-human-trafficking it’s really revolting… I forget that people can be so bad.

  4. jyd89 June 6, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this article.
    It sickens me seeing/hearing such stories, but more so it saddens me to see the destructiveness man is capable of.
    Where is the sense of justice? Where is the respect for humanity?
    Most importantly, what can be done to change such outdated/harmful behaviour!?

  5. angelenepenguin June 6, 2011 at 10:37 pm #

    I think it’s the worst when they feel that kind of abhorrent behaviour is justified – religiously, culturally or socially. It’s often the case when dictators and such justify their evil by declaring that it’s the right way. For how can people move away from something that they believe to be inherently right? If their leader, who is highly revered, says something goes, then who are they to object. Often times these things happen in desperate circumstances where people are uneducated. It’s so sad. There is definitely hope though, the UN can intervene in severe cases but it can work detrimentally for them for the citizens might think that they are imposing western ideals.

  6. jyd89 June 6, 2011 at 11:03 pm #

    I think so too, and exactly the reason for the title of this blog.
    I believe in this day and age we are all educated enough to determine truth from falsehood, right from wrong, moral from immoral. By blindly following others words (e.g. clergy, political leaders etc) robs us of our given intellect if we fail to percieve the truth for ourselves-we must all independently investigate the truth for ourselves-after all we are all responsible for our choices and doings and cannot amount the blame on another. This unfortunately portrays the, I believe, in some respects the harmful reverence leaders have. for example, my cousin in Iran is a Baha’i. A Muslim clergyman told his congregation to attack Baha’i property. They did exactly that and burnt my cousins humble stationary shop to the ground. Why? ’cause they were told to’. They blindly followed without using their knowledge and intellect to decide on its morality, let alone truthfulness of the clergyman’s claims.

  7. angelenepenguin June 7, 2011 at 12:21 am #

    Now that is crazy. A first hand experience of ignorance and intolerance, possibly the most lethal combination. We have to hold onto hope that people will be properly educated and that their rights are respected regardless of culture or ritual.

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