Whereas Chirindo Chisubi was nonetheless mourning her husband, she was shocked by a query requested by the police investigating his loss of life in Kenya’s Kilifi County on the Indian Ocean coast.
“This man, your husband, was he a sorcerer?” they requested the 63-year-old newly widowed girl.
Her husband, Dzuya Chisubi, had been hacked to loss of life over accusations that he practised witchcraft.
Ms Chisubi knew that her husband had by no means been a sorcerer and believed the killing was over one thing else – a dispute over land.
“I instructed them [the police] that since I received married to him, I had by no means seen something in him to indicate that he was a sorcerer,” she stated.
The loss of life of her husband pained her, though she believed that there was nothing she might do.
She had been instructed that the husband’s personal brother deliberate the killing, she instructed the BBC, saying the employed killer had confessed to the police.
The 2 males have been arrested and charged. Each denied the allegations.
Many graves within the village
Ms Chisubi’s ache is a well-known expertise for the residents in Buni Kisimani in Kilifi, whose relationships are at occasions soured and torn aside due to the widespread perception in witchcraft.
Various graves dot the village, a few of that are the results of grotesque killings.
On this area, it isn’t unusual for misfortunes together with widespread sicknesses or deaths in the neighborhood to be related to witchcraft.
Typically, aged males are accused of sorcery and blamed for these misfortunes. The punishment is at occasions brutal loss of life.
The victims are sometimes hacked or burnt to loss of life. Some are killed by their very own relations.
Conventional beliefs coexist with Christianity and Islam, that are Kenya’s dominant religions. A survey by Pew Analysis Middle, carried out in 2010, confirmed 11% of Kenyans believed in witchcraft.
The federal government doesn’t gather information on the prevalence of the assumption in witchcraft, which is against the law and attracts as much as 10 years in jail, however native media typically report on incidents depicting the follow throughout the nation.
These typically embody the lynching of these suspected of sorcery.
The police instructed the BBC that in Kilifi County alone, greater than 150 aged males have been killed on allegations of witchcraft within the final two years.
Naturally, the outdated women and men within the village of Buni Kisimani reside in concern for his or her lives.
When the BBC arrived right here late final 12 months, there have been many younger males round, some on boda bodas (motorbike taxis), the ever-present mode of transport within the space. It was arduous to identify an aged man.
Maybe unsurprisingly, the point out of any outdated man’s title seems to boost eyebrows. The affiliation of the aged with sorcery creates concern amongst some sections of the inhabitants.
However the aged and a few of their relations additionally dwell in concern that they is perhaps attacked due to such beliefs.
Just a few metres from Mr Chisubi’s grave within the village lies one other one – that of Mwakoyo Dzayo’s father, who was killed final 12 months.
Mr Dzayo says his father was killed on suspicion that he was a witchdoctor, an allegation that he denies.
“I’ve not seen him, not even for a day, as a witchdoctor,” he says.
What’s being accomplished about it?
The authorities say they’ve arrested and charged 28 folks over the deaths of outdated males within the space.
Nevertheless, the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has delayed a few of the instances, together with that of Mr Chisubi’s killing, which is due again in courtroom later in February.
Khamisi Mwaguzo, the programme coordinator of the Kenya Muslim Youth Alliance, has additionally been attempting to unravel the problem – and says that everybody must become involved.
He notes that totally different teams inside the society have been blaming each other for the issues based mostly on spiritual or cultural variations.
He has been bringing the teams collectively to show and reconcile them.
“A few of the Christians say the Kaya [traditional cultural] leaders are devilish, that they’re backward folks.
“The Kaya folks say the spiritual persons are the rationale why a lot of the elders are getting killed,” he says.
Mr Mwaguzo says all of the teams together with Christians, Muslims and the Kaya elders “should come collectively, preach peace and educate the residents that there isn’t a witchcraft right here”.
“The younger folks should be taught to earn their very own residing as an alternative of solely counting on land belonging to their aged dad and mom,” he says.
It’s simply over a 12 months after Ms Chisubi’s husband was killed, and she or he holds on to the hope that justice might be served.
She doesn’t consider that the loss of life of her husband had something to do with witchcraft, which he was accused of, however quite a dispute over land inheritance along with his brother.
“They’d a farm that belonged to their father, all that remained was to get a surveyor in order that they share the land,” she stated.
Rabai police commander Fred Abuga says land disputes and greed for fast wealth are the first reason behind the killings within the space, in keeping with their investigations.
“The basis of all these points has to do with land. You discover that many aged males personal titles to the land.
“It’s the youthful people who find themselves not concerned in land issues, personal no land, and don’t have any respectable technique of incomes their each day livelihoods who’re concerned within the crimes,” he says.
‘We aren’t free’
Regardless of the makes an attempt to cope with the problem, the killings haven’t abated.
“As we’re speaking now, one in all our elders in Kaya Chonyi [one of the Kaya sub-groups] is mendacity within the morgue in Kilifi,” says Daniel Mwawara Garero, chairman of the native council of elders.
“Even in one of many homesteads right here, there may be an aged man who was slaughtered simply the opposite day, so the killings proceed and we live in concern,” he says.
Even Ms Chisubi’s household remains to be uneasy over what has transpired since her husband was killed.
“Now he’s indignant at my kids,” she says, about her brother-in-law who was freed after denying allegations in opposition to him in courtroom. The person who confessed remains to be in jail awaiting trial.
“We’re being requested to depart our land as a result of we speak an excessive amount of and we do not know what this speaking an excessive amount of is all about.
“We didn’t report him [to the police], the killer is the one who did.
“We aren’t free, we aren’t pleased in any respect,” she says.