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Monday, June 23, 2008

penis post II

Oh la la. Quite a few hands went over groins in the last post I see. The men here have a specific walk here now when they visit the market, where they cover their jewels with their hand in their pocket.

I don't blame anyone for their concern, as there are certainly a few women in prison for something that isn't likely to exist, but after spending enough time in Congo, I'm fascinated with their beliefs in witchcraft. I started off with the same views most of you have, that it's probably a load of nonsense, and after seeing bonobos and chimpanzees arriving with parts of their bodies cut off, one finger at a time for use in black magic, I was indignant and appalled.

Congolese black magic is often cruel and has no scientific basis. Yet the people here beleive in it with a ferocity that is unshakable. After a lot of thought, I wonder whose fault it is that the standard of living here is so low that the people in the villages have no access to an education that would persuade them boiling the bone of an infant bonobo in water will not make pregnant women strong, or cure them of lethargy.

As I sit here at night, I can see the flames of the oil drilling at sea. Pointe Noire in Congo has a reserve of oil that would embarrass Saudi Arabia and it is selling it for a song to oil companies in Europe and the US. Both regions pay off government officials so they can buy the oil at a cheaper rate so Americans can continue to drive their SUVs (not sure what the Europeans do with it, since their cars are the size of matchboxes) , even though buying at a fair price and ensuring the money goes where it is supposed to would ensure a secondary education for every child in Congo.

So before you riducule beliefs that have been part of tribal heritage for generations, ask whose fault it is that those beliefs have never changed.