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
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.