Today is Thanksgiving Day. All around the world, Americans are gathering to celebrate this momentous holiday. Yes, I said all around the world. Even here, in the middle of Nowhere, Uganda, Americans are gathering.
What used to be an American holiday is now known across the globe. Although celebrated mostly by Americans, the holiday is recognized in nearly every calendar today. And so, even here in Uganda, we are wished a “Happy Independence Day” by cheerful Ugandans.
Uganda is home to thousands of witch-doctors. In fact, one of these used to live across the road from my ministry. Although long gone, his memory presents an important reality- witchcraft is alive and well in Uganda.
When New Hope first started, a local witchdoctor approached the leaders and claimed that the Ministry wouldn’t last long. Basically, he gave the Ugandan equivalent of “This town ain’t big enough for the two of us.”
Now, in the present-day, I live five minutes from a small town named Kiwoko. Kiwoko, according to some, is the “witchcraft center” for the entire district. This makes it a hub for witchdoctors and their patients. The hospital, Kiwoko Hospital, treats thousands of patients a week. Because of this influx of sick and needy people, witchdoctors often attempt to lure people away from the hospital and into their homes, where they can offer darker practices for a cheaper price.
Because of witchcraft’s deep hold in Uganda, we even see examples of it here, in New Hope. The first time that I, in recent memory, can remember being exposed to works of witchcraft was when I was about seven years old. It was a Friday night and, as per our tradition, my family was eating pizza and watching a movie. Coincidentally, the movie we watched was Bednobs and Broomsticks, a 1971 Fantasy/Comedy about witchcraft.
The movie, starring Angela Lansbury and David Tomlinson, was filmed by the creators of Mary Poppins and actually resembled its sister movie in many ways. However, one piece of the movie remains apart from this comparison- witchcraft. The entire plotline revolves around three children that, during the London Blitz, go to live with a witch. She is a member of a witchcraft correspondence school, capable of flying on brooms and casting spells. The movie would basically state that witchcraft was not only normal, but it was also good.
The hot sun beats down on withered, yellow grass. Cicadas scream their swear words to the sky. A dog barks somewhere nearby. The smell of smoke filters through the air, signaling that dinner is being cooked at the house. Warm air filters down from above, settling on your skin. This is Africa.
As I write this, I am sitting on a mountain, a thousand feet up, overlooking Lake Victoria. I am in Musana Camps, a camp/ministry founded by my ministry, New Hope Uganda. Located, as previously stated, over Lake Victoria, Musana Camps reaches out to a lot of the fishing villages, while also providing a place for many to relax. Needless to say, this place is stunning.