According to the latest figures from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, religious bodies have done extremely well in the last ten years – that is, as far as their numbers are concerned. In fact, the freshest national census results plainly tell a story of how Born-again Christians have more than doubled in the last decade.
This is delightful, and many people agree. Nevertheless, not everyone is so thrilled about this news; for one reason – sorcery.
A recently concluded study conducted by MKJ has revealed that 70% out of University girls has had personal encounter with witchcraft.
We have further learnt that at least four out of every seven girls are deeply sunk into active use of witchcraft to go about their day to day activities.
Bernadette Nakasi is a second year student at Kyambogo University. In a rather random quizzing of University girls, we landed on her. Our timing was bad though; she conveyed to us that she had been rushing to a prayer meeting which she otherwise referred to as Lunch Hour Fellowship. It was 7 minutes after one o’clock. She made sense after all, especially because she also wielded a Bible. We asked why it was necessary.
“It’s because I dare to be different,” she answered, adding that she did not need any alternatives to God.
We persuaded her to share what she knew. Apparently it was a lot. Her condition was to go with her to Lunch Hour Fellowship if at all we were so interested in her “testimony”. We ended up in University Park, under a tree shade. Naturally we wrought ourselves with patience until forty minutes later.
Nakasi told of how she owed her sanity to her six member prayer cell. It was visible now that it was an all-girls fellowship.
“I was travelling a dangerous path,” she reiterated, in the company of all her friends, who had all couched at the stationary metallic benches in the park.
Then spontaneously, this other friend of Nakasi’s spoke up; “You see, girls at University are not just girls. These are adults. They are young women. So they’ll do all the ugly adult woman things, despite being in school.
However, Nakasi mentioned that the only difference is that her group had all been redeemed from the lowly life.
“Otherwise, on a normal day, we would be in a group like this one but it would be a pipe smoking club. That’s where I was, whole of last year. Being a witch.”
According to Sophia Namutebi also known as Maama Fiina, a renowned traditional medicine specialist and spiritualist, her clientele has over the last few years become younger and younger.
“In one part, you would think it makes sense since these are young girls who are looking forward to womanhood and motherhood,” she contends. “You quickly excuse them because after all they are young and naïve about life, and they would want to insure their future as African women. It is granted to them to seek counseling from the older and grounded traditional women like myself.”
“On the other hand,” she continues, “I have since discovered that it is no more about the prudence and any desire to be virtuous African women. Far from it, girls have seriously become witches. I wonder how we got here to have our young girls so corrupted in character,” wails Maama Fiina. “For lately they come to me to help them cover up their bad manners. Well, I don’t. I have taken up another role and it is counseling and advising them to be a little bit more religious than opportunistic.”
Nakasi’s tale now made sense too, “When I had just joined Campus, I found myself in a girls’ hostel and as a fresher I destined to fit in well – fast. It was a bad call – these mostly third year students had quite a deal of dirty linen and it mostly had to do with men – married men. Every Wednesday in the evening these girls join other older women in the obscure neighborhood and smoke the pipe [gurgling incantations]. This is how they think they keep that man who pays their bills, a younger boyfriend and possibly to find favor with the lecturers.”
According to Nakasi, almost all girls who live in hostels are tempted to try it because there’s at least a girl or a few who use witchcraft to achieve their objectives.
Maama Fiina says that the matter of fact is that many of these girls have needs and these needs are rather too hard to meet.
“For instance, some of these girls come on Government sponsorship schemes from very impoverished homes. And that is as far as the government can go – tuition. Meanwhile University is more expensive than the mere tuition fees. It is therefore not surprising that these girls will look for a man to help out. And when they land on one that can ably pay the bills, it is rather incumbent upon these ladies to keep the man. This is how they end up in our compounds seeking for a love portion that will charm the man and keep him around longer.
Nakasi says that when University girls go to diviners, they are looking for favor by bewitching their men’s wives in order for the man to forget his family responsibilities and make the Campus girl the priority.
“Many have achieved it,” says Nakasi, “moreover it is rather impossible for a University girl to be without a boyfriend in her own age range. So, the idea is to use charm to play the Sugar daddy and the boyfriend without either of them noticing foul play. In today’s age, it is hard for a girl’s bag to be without fetishes. Except she is Born-again. Like me.”
“Many of the girls today have cuts on their thighs and these put on by the witches that the girls go to looking for help.”
Maama Fiina says that she has even heard of new and darker charms and powers that have been imported to the country and they are selling like hot cake.
“It is more or less like Illuminati,” she remarks. “The only difference is that there are less or no human sacrifices involved. Although, of course, there’s always a price to pay.”
Apparently in this newly invented charm, when a man is bewitched by a girl at 8 O’clock in the morning, by 11 O’clock he will be in one’s full control. It is said that all the ladies require is to possess UGX 300, 000 and the wizard will help enslave a man to you eternally. This is how young women, these days, snatch other people’s husbands.
We put a pastor to task to explain these trends. Leonard Ssemambo, a pastor at Miracle Life Center, Kyambogo in defense of his job, he quoted the Bible to note that even in the times of the Lord Jesus Christ people continued to be sinners despite the glaring truth that was before their own eyes.
“The young people at Campus are expectedly curious and they only want to make sure they are not defeated by life. So they’ll go far and wide, fighting to overcome their needs and challenges,” he adds.
Ssemambo thinks that the young people are neither inherently bad nor evil but misguided. He remarks that these young ones are the future and he says, “It’s why we’re always on campus to help in more practical ways than prayer alone. We’re challenged to put in place small jobs to make a decent living, even as we teach them to be good mannered, hardworking and innovative.”