On Thursday evening, we were inundated with calls from Chitungwiza residents who wanted us to cover the story about a crowd that had gathered outside a house in St Mary’s suburb claiming that the property owner produced a worm which was vomiting money into a bath tub in one of the house’s bathrooms.
No one in the crowd had actually seen the purported cash-vomiting worm but all the same, the crowd was not only excitable but in many respects violent as stones were thrown over the wall.
Their quest to see the “worm” was prompted by the fact that the house — where the strange creature was said to be resident — is a prominent feature in the neighbourhood.
The ornate pink house behind a high brick wall sits in stark contrast to the largely impoverished dusty surroundings.
This appears to be the only evidence that residents in St Mary’s suburb had to suspect that a form of witchcraft was giving the owner of the pink house an unfair advantage in the neighbourhood.
The story of the pink house is not an isolated one as in many instances property has been destroyed and lives lost because of superstitious beliefs gone bad.
Superstition and witchcraft are common in this country.
They include absurd claims and conceptions.
These irrational beliefs permeate all aspects of thought and culture: family life, farming, trading, mining, politics and big business.
And one of the most potent superstitions is belief in goblins which are believed to be behind most of the riches that people have.
There is a growing number of people that believe goblins are real, active beings that act to influence, intervene and alter the course of business transactions for good or ill.
They are accepted as a mode of explanation, perception and interpretation of success or failure in life.
Other than influencing business, the super-terrestrial beings are believed to cause poverty, disease, accidents, infertility and childbirth difficulties.
Many also attribute any extraordinary, mysterious or inexplicable phenomenon to them.
We are slowly cascading into a desperate society that has become slaves to the unknown.
Cheap superstition like believing that a worn can vomit money and make one rich is a danger to society.
It falls in the same realm of the absurdity of believing that raping a young girl can cure a grown-up man of HIV.
Senseless superstition in Tanzania and Uganda resulted in macabre stories of the killings of albinos and children being used as sacrificial lambs.
There is a Yoruba proverb which says: “The witch cried yesterday and the child died today, who does not know that it was the witch that cried yesterday that killed the child who died today?”
Such is the state of society today. Superstition can easily elevate rumour and innuendo to become fact.
This is a grave danger to human development. There is a correlation between these primitive practices and low human development.
We are heading in this direction—fast.