The Day The Witches came out.

witch doctor
witch doctor

The Day The Witches came out.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to Lusaka Voice (

   “I tell you bro, that Ambuya Phiri is a witch! Look at her ,she always has this expression on her face that speaks of evil, she should be gotten rid of.” This was Sitali Chama speaking to me as we   stood near my house.”But Sitali how can you be sure,she’s a witch? I didn’t know you were  a witch hunter now.” “Be serious Mwisho, can’t you see what’s been going on in the neighborhood? “ What do you mean ‘what’s been going on in the neighbourhood ’”I asked without any idea of what Sitali was talking about.”You didn’t see how Mwenya from that house by the corner mysteriously got sick and died?” “There was nothing mysterious about Mwenya’s  death” , I replied bluntly.”Well his mother and his sisters don’t think so” said Sitali,”They went over to Ambuya Phiri’s house after the funeral and yelled insults at her.” “Why?” I asked with my  mouth wide open.”Well they claim that she was the one who bewitched Mwenya,man the way he went out was bad,he died all bones,and at  such a young age.

    The Mwenya in question and now late was one of the kids in the neighbourhood kids of my generation. As he reached his teens ,it became abundantly clear to all of us that he possessed an unusual charm when it came to the opposite sex,and what aided this was his looks.He was tall and light brown and regulary visited the local Pompani gym,as a result he was very mascular.”I’m the man !” he would yell,”not you guys with those hands that look like Chinese chop sticks!”. Then he would kiss both his biceps.So,anyway I was eluding to his charm in relation to the opposite sex.Mwena had girlfriends everywhere;He had three at school,two at his church,and a lot of others who he affectionately tamed his “concubines”. I once jokingly said to him,that because of his many girlfriends,he must be the biggest customer the condom companies had.”What?” he replied,”I don’t use condoms,those things are for guys who are dull” “You mean you don’t use condoms with  all of your girlfriends?” I asked in disbelief.”What’s the use of eating a sweet with the wrapper still around it? What’s the use of taking a shower while wearing a rain coat?” He replied sarcastically.

Mwenya was lucky for some time,but I think in this age of  the HIV pandemic,its needless to say his luck ran out.He started getting sick every now and then,and rapidly losing weight. His best friend James went over and had a frank talk with him,”Mwenya ,its not late for you,go and get tested for HIV.These days there is treatment available so HiV is no longer a death sentence!” “So,you think I’m one of the diseased eh?” said Mwenya,”And all this time I thought you were my friend.” “No Mwenya I’m justtrying to be a good friend.I warned you about all that unprotected sex you were having.” Said James,trying to soun d reasonable.”Stop giving me lectures,I’m ok,it’s just the cold season this year that has been a bit harsh,I’ll be fine.” Said Mwenya.

When things got worse,his family started suspecting witchcraft so thet took him a famed witch doctor who after dancing around in circles and burning some strange herbs,told them that their son was bewitched.There was only one suspect in the township,Ambuya Phiri,and to make worse Ambuya Phiri had a pet cat that kept her company.The stereotype that cats are used by witches didin’t help matters.So,they poisoned her cat ,and each day they would  run and scream  near her house,”You old witch,leave our place and stop bewitching our son.” Well,the herbs from the witchdoctor didn’t help matters,so his family finally got sane enough to take him to the hospital.By the time he got there,the menigits had  gotten so bad.He died on arrival and was taked to B.I.D (Brought In Dead.)

I found it strange that such  clear case of HIV would be put on the shoulders  of an Old woman,who had served her time as a house maid,built her own house and was an active member of the Womens’ branch in her Church.I couldn’t help but express my thoughts;”Although they say  its bad to badmouth the dead,the truth is Mwenya died because of his own denial and negligence.He refused to get tested and be put on medication even when he knew he was at high risk for contracting HIV because of his reckless sexual behavior!” I said.Before I could continue my statement,I was interrupted by a loud bang.I looked around ,and it was the The Mwila family who were viciously throwing stones at Ambuya Phiri’s gate.”You witch! Leave this township! You are busy chanting your spells and making my business collapse!” Shouted Mr. Mwila,”You don’t want other people  to eat well,you just want you and relatives to keep all the wealth!” Yelled Mrs Mwila as she picked up another stone and hurled it at the gate.A crowd was slowly beginning to gather up as the noise from the stones hitting the metal gate was considerably loud.”What’s happening here?” asked spectator,”They are saying the old woman has been bewitching their business,that’s why its going down” answered the other.”Are they the owners of that shop near the market?” “Yes” “No wonder,their business had been booming then it suddenly went low,last time I went in all they had for sale were plastic bags and boxes of matches!”

Even in the face of the seriousness of the accusations that were being leveled against Ambuya Phiri,I couldn’t help but start laughing.”What’s so funny ?” asked Sitali looking surprised.I replied,”The Mwilas are accusing Ambuya Phiri of causing their business to collapse.” “Of course I know that! Tell me something I don’t know!” said Sitali looking annoyed.I realized he was totally in the dark and I had to break  the whole story down for him.About 4 years ago Mr Mwila had started a small grocery.Within a short time it blossomed into a vibrant Mini Mart,and turned the Mwilas from an insignificant family of the township into a relatively prosperous one.But it appears the success got to Mr Mwila’s head.He started drinking heavily and when he got real high,he would  buy crates of lagers for everyone at the Bar.Life was good,his friends were many and he kept the beers coming.Alcohol is an addictive thing and soon he couldn’t live without the “high”.He would drink while in the shop,he would drink at home,and a few times he would even show up the church service drunk.

There’s a saying “Like father ,like Son” and in this case it proved itself true.The junior Mwilas,David and Winston Mwila junior were not left out of their father’s spree in enjoying their  hard earned riches.They would party hard and pimp four or five girls at once.I recall one particular night in a club when Winston Mwila junior was o the dance  floor with his shirt off and his big pot belly and sparsely haired chest showing,and he was surrounded by three girls;one at his left,one at his right and one shaking her bottom in front of him.”This is the life!” he yelled as  let go of one of the girls and reached for the lager bottle on his table and and took a sip so big,one would think life depended on it.

But you see, there’s one thing about business and money,these teo are dynamic things,which means for every single ngwee you spend,you need to keep even moore ngwees coming and that’s where th Mwilas got it wrong.They got carried away with the spending part,and as a consequence the business was reduced to being on its knees.A normal person would urge them to go back to the words of the Biblical prophet Hosea:”Examine your ways” but here they were blaming Ambuye Phiri for their trouble ,when it was evident that it was their own foolishness and lack of discipline that had brought this poverty upon them.

“She must die! She Must  die! She must die!” came two voices yelling in a chorus.The whole crowd looked behind to see Mr Justin Kawilo,and his infamous wife,Judy Kawilo yelling  in fury.”I had a dream last night that someone was in our bedroom  sprinkling charms so that my marriage should end!” Barked Judy Kawilo.”This woman is the reason and the source of all the problems in our marriage!” said Justin in support of his wife.”I think we should just go in,bring her out and beat her to death,her qwitchcraft is causing too much dismay in the neighbourhood.” Said Mr Mwila.”Let’s do it!” Yelled a voice from the crowd.I looked in dismay as the crowd entered her yard,the it hit me,that this woman was about to killed.Without saying another word I made a dash for the nearby Police Post.

As I ran I wondered how the peole in  my neighboourhood could be so presumptuous.The  Kawilos were well known in the neighbourhood for the particular reason that their home would be a source of noise and  spectacular scenes as they frequently fought.Today tbey were claiming Ambuya Phir’s witchcraft was the sourceof their problems,but to tell the truth thereal cause was their rampant unfaithfulness to each other.Judy Kawilo was well known for her antics in the pubs.You should have seen her when she was in action on the dance floor,jumping and shaking like  she was having a fit.Rumour has it she a boyfriend who is a big boss in one of the companies in the city.One time her husband found her being corroused in some bushes.He tried to catch the assailant,who escaped so he ended up beating her up.This incident didn’t help in stabilizing their already shaky marriage.

As for Mr. Kawilo,he’s  notorious for activities with other peoples’ wives.One time his wife went to visit her parents but unfortunately for Mr.Kawilo she came back earlier than expected and found him pants down with her neighbor Mrs.Chola.I tell you,they were graphic scenes that day.Mrs Chola ran out of the house half naked as Mrs  Kawilo chased her with the kitchen knife.Mr Kawilo had to be rushed to the hospital after his wife struck him in the crotch and he lost consciousness.Ever since that day,there has existed a constant mistrust between them and they are constantly fighting.I wondered  why they should blame Ambuya Phiri for their own issues.

I arrived at the Police Station and  told the constable that if he didin’t come soon the old lady would be killed.We arrived at the house and found the crowd mercilessly hammering the lady.The Constable fired some warning shots and the crowd dispersed.We took Ambuya Phiri to the clinic where she had to be stitched.Two days later she moved out in fear of her alive.”It’s too risky for me here Chomba” she said tiredly “I nearly died the other day,I my not be so lucky next time.” With that,she said  to her son,”Drive Mavuto.” And so it was.

Its one year later since Ambuya Phiri was hurried out of the compound.So did chasing the supposed “witch” out of the vicinity change the fortunes of her supposed victims?Let’s see;  The Mwilas’ shop is now closed,the place has been made into a Pub,where Mr Mwila usually spends all his earnings after doing some odd jobs.As for Mr and Mrs  Kawilo,they divorced after Mr Mambwe seriously beat up Mrs Mambwe upon catching her in some shrubs with another man just about to commence the intimate act.As for my old friend Mwenya,well he’s still as dead as he was. It turns out Ambuya Phiri didn’t have much time to live after all,she died six months later in her sleep at  aged 87. I can’t help but think that all the fracas that day,accusing the poor old lady of witchcraft might have upset her in a way that shortened her life.She used to tell me sometimes  when I would blast my stereo loud for the whole neighbourhood to hear ,“Mwisho,please turn that music down,all that noise raises my Blood Pressure,The doctors told me that at my age I need  a lot of  peace and quiet.”  Did all the screaming and shouting that day disquienten the woman’s spirit and drive her to her grave after being being forced out of a home she had lived in for so long? I heard something about witches,that their purpose is to destroy other peoples’ lives.So who indeed were the real  witches that day? The Old lady or her ferocious accusers? I guess we’ll never find out.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to Lusaka Voice (