Our reporter goes undercover to find out what exactly takes women desperate for love to traditional medicine women.
Women are collecting body fluids like urine and menstrual blood among others to keep their errant husbands in check on witchcraft advice. So, under the guise of needing an urgent solution to a cheating husband, our undercover reporter visited some shrines in Katwe, Makindye and Wakaliga to seek advice from traditional medicine women.
I found a number of shrines and herbal shops in Makindye, but the chills of entering a shrine got the better of me, so instead, I eased into a herbal shop. I was warmly welcomed by one lady, Saudah.
For fear of being seen by someone I know, I hurriedly addressed my three concerns — my husband does not provide for the family, is a cheat and has a low self-drive. I told Saudah I needed something to make him more interested in me and to stop him from cheating.
Saudah’s response was: “Banange abasajja!” ["But men!"]
She pulled out different bottles and white polythene bags, telling me how each of the substances works. A soil-like powdery herb was to be mixed in my husband’s food, tea, juice and soda while serving him. After consuming the food containing the medicine, my husband would lose interest in other women.
She tipped that the spell would be more effective if the medicine is applied directly onto the food. I would have to use the same soil-like herb to cleanse my private parts before I made love to my husband, as the medicine would make my private parts “tight and sweet”.
She pulled out another type which looked like grass and told me I was supposed to burn it inside the house every day for five weeks. I would have to burn it while calling my husband’s name and command him to think of me wherever he goes. According to Saudah, the spell works better when the individual burns the grassy herb stark naked.
I paid sh50,000 for all the concoctions, took her phone number and she told me to check with her in case of any change.
The confidence of entering a shrine that had abandoned me at first came back immediately I left the herbal shop. Inside the shrine were three naked women smoking pipes (emmindi). I learnt that the women strip so that they do not smell of smoke after leaving the shrine. I told the in-charge of the shrine, an old woman called Jjajja, that I just wanted something to seal my marriage and also get a promotion at work.
“For how long have you been married?” she asked. I told her five years.
"Mwanawange, abasajja benzi. Oyina okwefako buliomu asikaaza wuwe," Which translates to: My child, all men are cheats. You have to take care of yourself as everybody pulls to their own favour, she cautioned.
At first, she laughed off my offer of sh20,000 for the job, saying it was little money for such a big problem. But when I feigned desperation, she accepted. She immediately sent one of the women inside,who came back with a black polythene bag full of different types of grass, small tree branches and animal hides.
She sorted the herbs one by one, starting with one that looked like tea leaves. This, I was supposed to tie in a polythene bag, get a thread out of my husband’s shirt, underwear or trousers, put it inside the polythene bag together with the herbs.
Then I would tie it on the part of the bed where my husband could not see it. Every morning, as I made the bed, I was supposed to touch the herbs chanting my husband’s name and whatever else I wanted.
"Gamba nti gwe gundi nkusibide wano.Laba nze nzeka ngatogenda walala," which loosely translates to say you are mine alone. Consider me alone. Never see anyone else”.
The old woman instructed me to sew some herbs in one of the pillows he uses.
For the promotion at work, she advised me to wrap some of the herbs and put them in my bag and should ensure that I move with it everywhere I go.
She said if my husband tried to sleep with another woman, he would smell like faeces, which would turn that woman off. She said if I did not realise any change, I should bring her a rare type of chicken, one I had never heard of. That visit cost me sh25,000.
Some of the substances that our reporter bought from the different shrines visited. Each had its own way of being used. PHOTO/Lillia Babirye
The next shrine I visited seemed like it had stood the test of time. I told the woman there my marital concerns. She was indifferent. She told me not to spend money buying herbs because there was no herb in this country that could stop men from cheating. She told me to pay sh10,000 and then gives me a solution she said would make my husband come back home early.
“After preparing food and you are ready to serve him, go outside and squat to urinate. Make sure you get the first drop of your urine and put it in a cup or tin. When you are serving him, pour it in his soup and juice. As you are doing that, say that ‘the way this urine has pained me, is the same way you should feel pain when you intend to cheat on me.’ When you do that, you will come back and tell me,” she said.
She advised that as I am bewitching my husband, I should try to show him respect, be clean and try to be willing to learn more sex skills because men want to see new things whenever they want to sleep with women.
When I was ready to leave, she told me to show her my right-hand palm. She examined it and plainly assured me that I do not have a chance with men – that most of them just want to use me and dump me. But she said that since I had come to her place, all my marital woes would be history.
The woman told me that since she has seen the problem is with me, I should blow the pipe she was smoking and say my husband’s name and things I want him to start doing. She told me the words I should say. For example, “Malcolm, I am the only woman you should love, provide for and think of all the time. Give me all the money I ask for. You should even marry me as your official wife, involve me in your plans and obey my suggestions.”
When she had finished telling me what to say, she handed me the pipe – I had never held one before! She taught me how to smoke it. Helplessly, I followed her directions on how to smoke the pipe. I cannot remember what I said.
I moved out regretting why I had entered that shrine.
Apparently, a man just finds himself spending more time at home and buying his woman expensive gifts and posting her pictures on Facebook all the time. He may blame it on growing up and settling yet the woman quietly knows the reasons. She also has to pay routine visits to the witchdoctor.
Joseph Musalo, a counsellor at Uganda Christian University, Mukono, says witchcraft has never been a solution to couples who have issues in their marriage. Witchdoctors just play on people’s minds. If he realizes you have not been preparing good food for your husband, that day, he will tell you to prepare something extra special then he gives you herbs.
Psychologically, you will take extra care in how that meal will turn out, your husband will like it and when he comes home two days in a row after that, you think the witchcraft is working.
Musaalo adds that once a person engages in witchcraft, it is very hard for them to drop it. They attribute anything small to witchcraft. If a couple has problems, they should seek help from a professional counsellor. Most people do not take counselling seriously. There are burning issues couples cannot tell each other because of their egos, but when they contact a counsellor, they can air them out and get help.
He advised that in case you suspect that there is something wrong in your relationship, communicate to your spouse during your free time and discuss.
“Breakdown in communication can break marriages. Couples should trust and respect each other to avoid visiting witchdoctors for help,” he said.
Would you resort to witchcraft?
I have never seen a person who visits witchdoctors and gets a stable marriage. If witchdoctors had herbs for stopping men from cheating, why do married people still die of HIV/AIDS or divorce day and night? Those are liars.
There is a lady I know who visited a witchdoctor to stop her husband from cheating and beating her. After making the man eat the herbs, instead she was beaten till she divorced him. I cannot even step there.
I do not believe in witchcraft. I cannot even waste my time visiting them. It is against my faith. If my husband is a cheat, I would take it before the Lord. And trust me, my prayers would change him.
There is a time my husband would not leave money for upkeep at home and was instead spending it on alcohol for his friends at the pub. I went to Mukono and got herbs.
Slowly, my husband gave up on heavy drinking and became responsible. Even my friends who have visited witchdoctors can testify that those things work. Most people do, but they do not want to admit it, even those who go to church.
Those herbs from witchdoctors just worsen the situation. For the 30 years I have lived, I have never heard any success story about witchcraft. Even people who say they give others blessings are also struggling.
I would only visit a witchdoctor if he had herbs to make me get a lot of money and get a promotion at work. But for bewitching my wife, I would never do that. If a woman cheats on me then it is fine because I will get another one.
Witchcraft: Things women do to keep their men