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Monday, 20 September 2004

In Praise Of Gloria

Over the weekend I had the great fortune to meet Gloria, an urban-resident Zambian. She is one of the spikiest, funniest women I have ever met.

Her husband is currently unemployed. In traditional Zambian culture, despite the fact that Gloria is out working every day, she would also be expected to do everything around the house. Even though her husband doesn’t work.

Not so Gloria. She delights in telling me how her husband has to clean and sweep and wash and cook, and that she puts her feet up and has a drink when she gets in from work. She tells me that her in-laws are convinced she has performed ‘ju-ju’ (black magic) on her husband.

Then ensues an enlightening conversation where Gloria informs me that a traditional healer – Inganga, – is separate from a witchdoctor – Indoshi. In some cultures these are one and the same. She explains which one I would need to go to for any particular potion.

Unfortunately the conversation then tangentially degenerates, and concludes with her recommending that I watch a Nigerian film called The Beast, which sounds very much like a bad West African version of The Exorcist.