23 February 2013

Tanzania: Houses of 'witchdoctors' holding back rains torched

At least 30 residents of Enguseosidani village in Kiteto district, Manyara region are homeless after their houses were torched by people who accused them of preventing rains through witchcraft.

Besides their dwellings, the victims who are members of two extended family had their maize, beans and pigeon peas crops on the farms burned by the attackers they claim are their neighbours.

The councillor for Dongo ward Mr. Eliya Dengea where the village is located has confirmed the incident and said the incident took place at 4 pm on Thursday last week. He said the victims were yet to find shelter.

Information circulating in the area said the victims of the torching incident have been accused as being the source of failure of rains in the area since the beginning of the 2012/2013 rainy season.

Insufficient rains have been reported in many parts of Manyara and Arusha regions, especially in the semi-arid Kiteto and Simanjiro districts (Manyara) and Monduli, Longido and Ngorongoro in Arusha region.

Further reports from the area said, the torching happened after 40 consecutive days without rain, prompting some farmers to speculate on who was responsible for the calamity. Most of the crops they planted had wilted due to drought.

"It was at that juncture that they started attacking the dwellings of the families they suspected where behind the prolonged drought", the councillor said. The value of the destroyed property had not been ascertained by the weekend.

One of the houses destroyed belonged to a person identified as Mr. Chingala Chidundo, he said, adding that police have been called to the village and have restored order as investigations into the incident is underway.

The official pleaded with the residents of Kiteto district to refrain from the outdated beliefs on who was responsible for the failed rains. He affirmed that the reason for the prolonged droughts could be one of the vagaries of climate change and should not be blamed on any individual.

"We are currently in the world of science and technology. We should discard these weird beliefs as they are retarding our development efforts" he pointed out and called on the people to stop attacking innocent villagers on assumed wrong doing."

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