30 January 2019

Tanzania: Owl Enters Tanzania Parliament

Dar/Dodoma — It may sound scarcely credible but the fact is that an owl -- in real life -- found its way into Tanzania's Parliament on Tuesday, January 29, 2019.

No wonder, in English, a group of owls is officially called a parliament. But, this time, it was spotted solitary on the roof inside the Parliament of Tanzania.

The owl, a nocturnal bird, could not leave the August House despite several attempts by Parliament officials to evict it.

Though the way the owl made its way into the lawmakers' building remains a mystery, its presence in the House did not go unnoticed by the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Job Ndugai.

"Honarable Members of Parliament (MPs), we started seeing an owl in this House since morning but in the tradition of people of Dodoma, an owl that is seen during daytime cannot have any effect on anyone. This means that we have nothing to worry about its presence," he said when the House resumed for business in the evening.

The Speaker's utterance was an apparent attempt to dispel some fears among MPs and officials who may not have been at ease to see the owl inside the debating chamber.

Supernatural beliefs

Though Tanzania is known for being a God-fearing nation, the country is also known for being very much into other forms of supernatural beliefs.

A 2011 report by the Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures Project of the United States, revealed that although a majority of Tanzanians are either mosque or churchgoers, a good number of them still believe in witchcraft, evil spirits, sacrifices to ancestors, traditional healers, reincarnation and other "supra science" elements.

More than half of the people surveyed between December 2008 and April2009 in 19 countries, including Tanzania, confirmed that they are into superstition and believe spirits are real.

In the six-member East African Community (EAC), Tanzanians were said to be the most superstitious lot and ranked third after Senegal and Mali, among the 19 countries that were surveyed. The survey involved some 1,504 Tanzanians, of whom 907 were Christians and 539 Muslims.

Bad omen

In most African traditions, owls are perceived to be omens of bad luck, ill health, or death.

In most African traditions, Tanzania included, it is believed that when one sees an owl or when it is heard hooting then someone close that area will mostly likely die.

Available literature shows that Tanzania has about 1100 bird species and 15 species of owls but for most Tanzanians there is nothing good that one can associate owls with.


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