My answer was simple: “Because it is the country’s best selling newspaper and I want to reach as many people as possible.”
I also took into account the fascination with traditional healing and understood the relevance the stories have in today’s society.
We are emerging from a very secretive cultural heritage of traditional healing, where in search of power and protectionmany have been to places they cannot talk openly about.
This cuts across class and academic divides.
The scripture-quoting individual leading the church choir could be same person that chants messages from the dark cave of a traditional healer.
In general there is a strong belief in obtaining such services as “go thayamotse” (home protection) body strengthening, kraal protection and even a marriage partner.
But there is also a taboo attached to clandestine dealings with those believed to have contact with supernatural forces.
The painful experience of Peter and Same is a case in point, and takes us to this week’s tale from the kgotla.
Same tearfully related how she had suffered a plague of inexplicable misfortune and had come to believe that there was a curse following her life.
She related how she had received many warning letters from work despite her hardwork and commitment to excellence.
Added to that her small business was showing signs of collapse despite her best efforts to keep it alive, and then to top it off her in-laws had grouped together to insult and harass her.
Sametold how she had related her litany of problems to a work-mate who suggested that she should seek help.
“Ijoo go ikopelwa dithuso mma,o ka itesa go welwa ke lekotswana” – meaning one must rise and seek help when things are not right.
How can you let the wall fall on your face?
She was told of a traditional healer on the outskirts of the city.
To get there she had to ask her hubby for the use of his car, a distinctive, newly imported and elegant Merc.
On the appointed evening she drove to meet the man who could unravel the mystery to all her misfortunes.
He was an old, bearded white haired man, who had the look of one who ‘knew.’
He took time to read into her life and supplied much-needed information of how her ancestors were trying to pull her down, revealing eye-widening details of family witchcraft and jealousy.
The oldman made it clear that Same would need more than one visit,but as fate would have it a relative spotted the car parked behind the traditional healer’s hut.
She reported the matter to Same’s unsuspecting husband.
On the subsequent visit Peter made a plan to follow Same and catch her ‘in the act.’
After that all hell broke loose.
Peter angrily demanded the keys to the car and drove off without Same.
His first stop was his mother’s house where hemade a meal of revealing all the sordid details he knew, adding a few more he embellished as relish.
Peter’s family were excited to hear the news and used the incident to call Same all sorts of meannames.
The distressed woman tried to develop a thick skin over the whole thing, but eventually the insults and gossip got to her.
She desperately needed help to be given a chance to explain herself to Peter, who preferred to talk to his family concerning the issue and ignore her.
Peter came with a truckload of his relatives whose faces fell with disappointment when I indicated that the preliminary discussions were for Peter and Same only.
As the meeting began I explained to Peter that there were two issues his wife wanted to iron out.
Firstly Same admitted that she was caught in an act of cultural impropriety, consulting a traditional doctor which must never be done to the exclusion of one’s spouse.
Secondly and most importantly, she felt that the prejudice from Peter’s family was unjustified and grossly unfair.
Peter’s response was that he had decided to dispose of the marriage because Same’s behavior demonstrated an unforgiveableact of betrayal, and besides that he was now convinced that she was a witch.
He declined any effort to make peace between them and stood up, sarcastically thanking me for trying.
His final comment to Same as he strode out of my office was that she would hear from his attorney.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WERE THE JUDGE?
Points to consider:
Same and Peter had been married for less than 5 years and they had toddlers who needed to be raised by their parents.
The case had me wondering what the vow for better/for worse is supposed to mean.
There is a Biblical verse that says, “Love covers a multitude of sins” – so why could the same love in which they married not cover this particular indiscretion?
Then there was the pressure of the in-laws in Peter and Same’s relationship.
This very strong belief in external help from spiritualists seems to have ignored the ability of individuals to draw strength from the sourceof power that lies within.
But there was nothing I could do about Peter decision to end the matter in the manner had had chosen.
He would start the divorce proceedings because of his failure to forgive.
Same now had to look within herself and find strength to endure courageously without self blame or guilt.
There is a quote from ancient Greek philosophy that has stuck in a corner of my mind since schooldays.
As Same was leaving I recalled the line, and as if launching a lifeboat repeated it in the hope that it would help her as she left my office to face an uncertain future.
“If you have a wounded heart, touch it as little as you would an injured eye.
There are only two remedies for the suffering of the soul: hope and patience.”
Same would need a whole load of both.