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News Clippings


Wednesday 15 December 1999(Daily Telegraph)

Healers to cleanse Zimbabwe of snakes
By David Blair in Harare


TRADITIONAL healers were called in yesterday to deal with snakes that are blacking out towns in Zimbabwe by coiling themselves around power transmitters.
Pythons have plunged the town of Beitbridge into darkness five times this year. On each occasion they were later found hanging, blackened and electrocuted, from blown-out power terminals. In a classic African blend of modernity and tradition, the state electricity company yesterday asked nyangas (traditional healers) to tackle the problem.

Nyangas can cleanse an area of snakes by burning traditional medicines made from herbs. The smoke sends the reptiles scurrying away and fires in strategic places are thought to be able to protect an electricity network. Using the same method, nyangas can also clear an area of baboons. Last month, the Forestry Commission summoned them to drive away monkeys that were laying waste to large plantations.

Prof Gordon Chavunduka, chairman of the Zimbabwe Association of Traditional Healers, said yesterday: "Nyangas have an important role to play in today's Zimbabwe. There are many diseases and conditions that cannot be coped with by modern medicine and they can also help to modernise the country." Nyangas are often summoned to help the construction of roads, bridges and houses. If burial sites are disturbed by the work, the spirits of the ancestors must be pacified with ceremonies.



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