Superstitions and Spirits
Something else my neighbors told me about was how they didn't refer to a person by their given name at night. Each person they talked about had a nickname. My neighbors did this because they didn't want any bad spirits to hear who they were talking about. These spirits may do their friends harm. I asked them about the nicknames they had given people I knew. The nickname for the headmaster at the school was 'Big Man' after all he was a rather large person. Yes, I also had a nickname. It was 'mzungu'. That meant 'white person' in Swahili. They had nicknames for everyone - there was no way I could remember them all.
Speaking of spirits, one of my neighbors showed me that he had three small scars on the inside of each wrist, at the base of his neck (front and back), and also by his ankles. When my neighbor was about five years old his parents had had a local doctor come to their home. The doctor inoculated my neighbor against bad spirits and disease by making these small cuts on his wrists, ankles, and neck. This was where these things could enter the body and the cuts, which became scars, would prevent it.
There were witch doctors in the village. I had several students that had had the witch doctors take things out of their stomaches with witchcraft and cure them of their ailments. Many students also wore black bracelets that were supposed to ward off spirits and diseases.
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