Visiting a traditional doctor to solve one’s problems is still big business in urban Botswana, the only difference being that it’s now more secretive than ever and that it is common amongst the youth.
It’s said that those who visit traditional doctors are sometimes University students and well-known people in their communities; some are church members who do not want people to know that they are consulting traditional doctors.
Nowadays wherever one walks, fliers are being distributed as this is how the traditional doctors advertise their business to the society.
Some of them claim to be foreigners who can, ‘bring back your lost love, get you a new job, enlarge a man’s sex organ, strengthen your marriage, bring you wealth etc, but at a fee, of course.
They are some who look at the adverts and regard them as foolish but there are some who look at them and see hope.
Apparently, a percentage of the youth in urban Botswana have taken to visiting traditional healers in hidden settlements when they think no one is looking.
The other day, I overheard a conversation between two relatively young women; one was advising her friend to visit the traditional healer because she had no luck in securing a man who could marry her. She seemed convinced that if her friend were to visit the doctor, she would eventually get married.
She said that she was a live testimony of how traditional medicine can help one get what they want because after she consulted the healer she was given a promotion at work the following week. She said although it was costly to consult the healer, at the end of the day, it was worth it.
Needless to say, the friend who was of the view that time was running out for her hopes of becoming a bride ended up setting a date to visit the healer.
It turns out that there is a percentage of youth who actually believe that traditional doctors can help them attain their goals.
Thabo, who refused to further identify himself, was adamant that traditional healers are significant to this day because even the Bible acknowledges the presence of evil.
He said that it’s a fact that witchcraft exists, that not even a Christian can deny its existence and the only way for those who don’t believe in Christianity to protect themselves is to visit a traditional doctor and they usually help them against evil forces.
“I found out from the doctor the other day that the reason I was performing so badly at work was because two guys in the office were bewitching me, and now that he has helped me I am sure I will even get a promotion,” he said.
One of the ladies I spoke to said that she went to the traditional doctor because her health was failing and she had no idea why.
She said that the hospitals could not point out what was wrong with her but the traditional doctor found out that her friends were jealous of her beauty and they were trying to kill her.
“I had no idea my friends would do this to me; at first, I didn’t believe in witchcraft but after I consulted the doctor he gave me herbs that are slowly but surely healing me. I go to church every once in a while and I wouldn’t want my congregation to know about my visit to the doctor because they will judge me,” she said.
A UB student I spoke to, but who also refused to be identified, thinks traditional doctors are nonsense and he wouldn’t try them if they were his last option.
He believes that they are for people who can’t solve the problems they have in their lives, people who always find something or someone to blame for their failures and inability to sort out the mess in their lives. He said he thought that traditional doctors were a thing of the past and that if they were still being consulted today it would be by the elderly crowd not the youth. He believes that the free education Batswana get should have been an eye opener to the youth, because education not only prepares the youth for the world but it changes their perceptions and the way they handle their obstacles.
“Its worrying to hear that people trust those doctors even when it’s evident that all they are doing is turning them against their families and friends for a fee. The youth need to understand that life is not without challenges otherwise it wouldn’t be life; problems exist, nothing is perfect,” he said.