Theatened by age
Kilifi county would be described as peaceful. You will not feel threatened walking its streets at night. I marvel that in some hotels, tourists are scared of leaving the confines of the stone-walls. A pity really.
The villages are equally peaceful, except for those who are old. The killing of elderly people suspected of practising witchcraft in rural Kilifi is worrying….. hope this newspaper cutting is legible….
Killing people who are feared to be practising witchcraft is not a new thing. A few centuries ago, the English were famous for burning witches, a fine way of getting rid of any woman one had a grudge against. Though I really don’t know English history and have little clue why they choose to burn some women here and there… at least they tired of it long ago and its history.
There are reasons why fears of witchcraft prevail in rural Kilifi. Infant and child death rates are high (although on the decline as is the case across Africa). Simple infections like malaria will leave a child with conditions that are difficult to comprehend, like Epilepsy or Autism. Add to this, high levels of poverty and low literacy rates. On top of this is a culture, were the words of an elderly person have the power to affect your fate. When any disaster strikes, than that elderly person is prime suspect. A careless word spoken in the past, now carries heavy meaning. The saddest part is that one’s own children, mainly sons, arrange and plot these deaths
I have heard it said that old people are also being killed to pave way for the younger ones to inherit— but this is hearsay.The killings of old people in Kilifi in connection to witchcraft is not news and has been reported before in the paper.
The killing of old people is a public health problem in Kilifi that cannot be ignored but it is another issue that needs to be handled from within the community. Jobs and high education levels are all long-term permanent solutions but temporary solutions need to be put in place now.