Sunday, January 5, 2014

Do Lizard Love Charms Work? By Agnes Mizere (First published in Fairlane Magazine)

Malawians is this monitor lizard called Kwakwananda here?

No…no…no! Our ancestors and "witch-doctors" got it all wrong…women should not use magic spells to control men, it’s evil and I will tell you why. 

Yes I’m aware love charms are as historical as Malawi itself but I have my reservations.

First of all, love the oldest emotion known to mankind should not be confused with lust! Simply put, love is a strong liking for someone or something; a passionate affection for another person; or the object of such affection.

Love is supposed to be natural, without barriers and affecting various sectors of society including cases where one partner is doing all the loving.  This has created an unusual need especially amongst some Malawian women just like other African ones to use external substances like charms to cast spells, control and magically induce love in cold men.

Instead most of these men are turning into zombies or becoming kind of brain dead!  Others end up hating the pursuer even more! The first such horror story I came across involves thirty-four year-old *Susan a married mother of two (a boy and girl) but a very lonely woman although she has all that she could possible dream of having: a beautiful home, cars, free air tickets for annual shopping sprees to Asia and Europe etc.  

Shockingly, this young mother still feels emptiness in her heart as she claims that the challenging very alert out-going man she married six years ago has now been replaced by a boring introvert whom she has to force to go to work.

Why? *Susan in the early days of their relationship rushed to get mankhwala achikondi  (love charms) from a witchdoctor in Thyolo where she received specific instructions to mix the herbs with her fresh faeces then mix them with relish especially dried fish like matemba, meat or beans.  Nasty!

Now chances are high that her ‘very obedient’ husband will soon lose his job because every morning he apparently clings on to his wife ‘like a maggot’ if I may use her own words.

Ironically, this has forced her to have an affair with a ‘younger more challenging’ man a college student?  One can only wonder what the point of all this was.  

What is disturbing is that *Susan is not alone.  More African women these days seem to be turning to love charms and spells to grab the men of their dreams.  Some are very satisfied.  In Area 18, 27 year-old *Nankhoma is proud that “her man sticks to her like glue or a zombie and they “definitely have a Till Death Do Us Part Affair.”

Her secret recipe?  The outspoken woman burns a small cloth soaked with her menstruation blood and mixes it with mankhwala achikondi  which she then conceals in relish.  Sometimes she uses a piece of thread from her underwear or blanket which is burnt then the ashes mixed with herbs to be cooked with nsima or chips.

You might be wondering what the secret ingredient in these women’s love charms is? Well many women in townships have been chasing after buluzi (lizards) thinking their tails are sacred love potions but my investigations show that it’s in the tail of Namakala Vamulango or Kwakwananda which sounds like a monitor lizard found in the hills of Nsanje and Chikwawa. 

The whole animal is bought but only the tail is pounded into powder or burnt into ashes for use.  It’s then mixed with 13 roots and barks with the animal parts being the fourteenth. These potions/charms which are believed to cause rapid weight loss, hair shredding and suspected brain damage involve blood which is unclean.

Imagine, some women somehow soak mawele  (millet) in their private parts until it sprouts after several days then they cook thobwa for their husbands to drink!  Talk of disgusting…on the other hand, I am told that there are other mixtures which do not involve body fluids or blood but two types of ground nyenyezi mixed with oils.

One is supposed to be the bark of a tree found at Sapitwa, the highest peak of Mulanje Mountain, with a glittering inside which shines when facing the sun.  The other is what some locals call nyenyezi (a star) which apparently falls at night only once a year during the month of October.  It sounds like a meteorite but in their opinion, the star is actually just a rock which shines brightly and when it hits the ground the whole area is well lit even though it’s at night.

Elders foretell a chief’s future using these while others call them ‘lucky stars’ which some women use when looking for a husband.  So as the hunt for the tail of Namakala Vamulango  still continues in the remote hills further down south, some look for falling stars while others are plainly opting for good old-fashioned real love in a give and take situation instead of using external factors for enhancement. 

Which one are you?

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Took this picture of children in Milange, Mozambique admiring visiting Malawian children

Tracing footsteps to lead me home

Greetings from the Warm Heart Africa, Malawi.

I'm a Malawian journalist who grew up in many countries including South Africa, Belgium, then West Germany, UK, Washington DC and New York in the US and I love New York.

Trying to come up with the production of my life and by compiling some of my 1000 poems into a book called ‘Tracing Footsteps’ to lead me Home with excellent photography.

I also plan to film award winning documentaries based on the history of this ancient land called Malawi and the mysteries of the Sirius star. this space.