Discussion in 'Esoterica' started by TheQuixote, Jul 23, 2004.
BBCi News 23/07/04
They called in the witchdoctors...
This is the main topic of conversation in my area of the world:
23 July 2004
Witchdoctors help Borneo search
By Jonathan Kent BBC correspondent in Malaysia
Officials in east Malaysia have called in witch doctors to help them locate a helicopter and its seven passengers and crew missing in the jungles of Borneo.
The search operation has come under intense criticism for its failure to find the aircraft a week and a half after it disappeared.
Two senior politicians from the state of Sarawak were onboard, as well as the head of the local electricity company.
After 11 days of fruitless searching, desperation seems to have set in.
Officials have summoned the witch doctors, or bomoh as they are called in Malaysia.
A spokesman said that each had given a different description of where the helicopter had crashed, but all agreed that it was in a valley.
The rescuers say that does not help much as the area where they now believe the aircraft went down is made up of lots of valleys and they have no way of identifying which.
However all the bomoh agreed that some or all of the passengers are still alive.
One who appears to be a better businessman than clairvoyant demanded payment in advance, saying that he would definitely locate the seven missing people.
An earlier suggestion that bomoh be brought in to help deal with evil spirits and genies in the forest had been turned down by the passengers' families, who are mostly Christian.
Those co-ordinating the rescue initially seemed sure that the helicopter had crashed in the Bario highlands - a remote area near Malaysia's border with Indonesia.
But the focus of the hunt has now shifted.
There have been allegations that politicians have hampered the search by insisting that they, not the emergency services, co-ordinate the operation.
The missing include a deputy minister from the state of Sarawak, the head of a local council and the chief executive of the Sarawak electricity supply corporation.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/07/23 08:59:17 GMT
29 July 2004
Search for Borneo crash survivors
By Jonathan Kent BBC correspondent in Malaysia
Malaysian rescue teams are searching for two possible survivors from a helicopter crash in Borneo more than two weeks ago.
Commandoes found the remains of five of the seven passengers when they reached the aircraft's wreckage on Thursday.
The helicopter was eventually found on a steep hillside in a remote region in the state of Sarawak.
The mission to find survivors has been dubbed the longest, most costly search operation in Malaysian history.
The helicopter set off from the town of Bario on 12 July, carrying a minister in the Sarawak state government, the chief executive of an electricity company and five others.
The terrain where the aircraft crashed is so remote that commandoes had to be winched down from a military helicopter.
They found the badly decomposed bodies of four passengers inside the wrecked aircraft, and one outside.
The search is continuing in the faint hope that the two people unaccounted for may have survived 17 days in one of the most inhospitable environments on earth.
The operation to find the missing helicopter has been hampered by bad weather and dense jungle.
But there have also been allegations of political interference.
After days of fruitless searching, witch doctors known as bomoh were called in, along with two infrared technology experts from Australia.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/07/29 06:14:45 GMT
So much for witchdoctors! As for the two infrared techies, they located a logging camp garbage dump, one broken down log excavator and one rotting deer carcass.
Questions will be raised in Parliament!!
No mention of the bomoh this time but the bodies have been found:
BBCi News 29/07/04
An interesting sideline to the story:
The staff of one of the missing men knew he and the others had died in the crash because 7 days after the chopper went missing, they saw his ghost walked along the corridor to his office. His deputy then sadly proceeded to take over all the outstanding important work in the office. They kept very quiet about this out of consideration for the families of the other men.
BTW, 7 days in Chinese belief is traditionally the time to see a dead person's ghost (i.e.when the soul is allowed back for the last time!)
Tanzania's witch-doctors cast spells for votes
Bonethrower, an online witchdoctor
The Rise of the Tele-Witchdoctor
Forest Pygmies Heed Spirit World
The spirit of the forest remains an important force for Cameroon's pygmy people, even though traditional ways are changing, reports Naomi Wellings of the BBC World Service Heart and Soul programme.
In the dense forest of southern Cameroon, Chief Arweh Richard is the final arbiter for his extended family of around 70 people.
Every evening he watches affectionately as the young men play football together in front of the camp, and he sometimes joins in, too.
He helps his wife Gabba as she prepares the evening meal of bushmeat and boiled cassava.
Rather than ruling from an obviously elevated position, the chief seems to understand how inter-connected these people are, both with each other, and with their physical surroundings.
Pygmies are among the few remaining hunter-gatherer peoples in Africa.
But whereas some pygmies hunt with a spear or with arrows, Chief Arweh and his fellow men set traps which they regularly inspect.
Much of the religious ceremony which traditionally preceded hunting continues, in spite of the fact that their approach is less dangerous now.
Part of that ceremony involves the rite of a wife praying for her husband's safety, as she smears some ground bark on to his forehead.
The forest is to be respected - it is not simply a resource, it's seen as a force which has sustained generations of pygmies.
The force within the forest is called Agengi, the god of pygmies everywhere.
Whether they are in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, or here in Cameroon, Chief Arweh tells me they can come to the forest and call out to Agengi and he will reply to them.
There are different reasons why people might want to do that.
While I was staying in the village, the chief was frustrated that his other role as the settlement's traditional healer was these days being neglected.
"People don't come for healing any more," he said.
"I used to have lots of people coming for medicine and my treatment. I was well known for healing people the doctors couldn't."
But in visiting the forest and calling out to Agengi - making loud whooping noises - Chief Arweh and his father Antoine and son Yamma, believe they connect with their god.
After they have made their call, a startling clapping sound seems to come out of the leaves all around us.
This, I'm told, is Agengi and simply being with him means that some of his power rubs off on you.
Later in the week, when Chief Arweh receives two visitors seeking traditional remedies for their families' illnesses, he tells me Agengi has heard his cry and given him back his role in the community.
Chief Arweh recognises that the forest not only provides for its people physically with creatures and plants for food, but its god determines their health and well-being in every way.
This symbiotic relationship between the forest surroundings and the forest dwellers, is summed up in a popular phrase the chief told me: "You can take the pygmy man out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the pygmy man."
Naomi Wellings's research in Cameroon was made possible by a bursary from the Onassis Trust.
You can listen to her programme at the link below:
A woman i work with lived in Africa for a year (i think Ghana) and said that almost all of the indiginous people there used witchdoctors because they couldn't afford to see a real doctor, and also because of cultural taboos on what was considered 'white mans medicine'.
She also said, interestingly, that at one time the witchdoctors would accept payment in alcohol or tobacco, though most now accept currency.
Obeahs will always exist. They make up your voodoo, hoodoo practitioners and often times is used for more harm then good.
About a year ago I saw a documentary about children being accused of witchcraft in Nigeria which was probably the most upsetting thing I've ever seen.
If I recall correctly one of the theories proposed for the surge in accusations against children was that it was at least partly connected to the huge popularity of a home grown - and, from the segments shown, utterly revolting - horror movie (which I think is called End of the Wicked).
The anxieties this movie created, or, more probably, exploited, (or, even more probably, both) have themselves been exploited by some of Nigeria's enormously popular (and wealthy) evangelical Christian* preachers - a particularly revolting example of one being interviewed in the documentary, whose only defense appeared to be that any criticism of her and her open and undenied accusations of witchcraft against the utterly defenceless was based purely on the racism of the accuser.
Truly awful, awful stuff.
*I'd add that many of those putting their lives at risk to fight this abuse were themselves committed Christians working as individuals or for Christian charities.
I'm sure I recently saw a documentary about an abino 'safe house/camp' where many of the children had missing bits, but I can't for the life of me remember the title.
Separate names with a comma.