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'Tsikamutanda prefer pyton just like prophets use annointing water'

Witch hunters in Zimbabwe popularly known as  Tsikamutanda and other traditional healers  seem to have a  strange love affair with pythons.

If media reports are anything to go by, pythons are their preferred 'tool' of trade.

Each time Tsikamutanda's  perform their rituals, they are not short of  pythons and in most cases the reptiles are usually killed by 'angry' villagers.

Fears have been raised that python population could be fast dwindling and questions have been asked as   to why pythons are preferred by the notorious witch hunters.

It is alleged that when pythons are killed, there is a special oil traditional healers use which is in high demand.

Pythons are protected animals in Zimbabwe, and killing them is punishable with a fine or jail sentence.

Even so, locals attack them, partly because of superstition.

Often, businessmen are suspected of keeping pythons to ensure their enterprises prosper.

In March 2015,  a dead python was found in a sack in Harare's well-off suburb of Borrowdale causing consternation, and speculation that it had been kept for ritual purposes.

Recently, a man in Harare was seen  dragged two pythons through the streets as part of a witch-hunting exercise.

Images of the man dragging the two giant snakes along a dusty, mango tree-lined street were posted on social media.

Some sangoma's claim that giant pythons serves as a "network" allowing them to speak to his ancestors.

 According to the Zimbabwe National Parks website under Problem Animal Control section, "After the Python is caught it is not killed because it is an endangered species. Instead, it is disposed into its natural habitat where the area is protected e.g. Lake Chivero Recreational Park or Darwendale Recreational Park".

A Bulawayo resident said witch-hunters prefer pythons to boost their business  as they are in "cut-throat but barely noticeable competition".

"Traditional healers are also in a business that has cut-throat but barely noticeable competition.

"So any healer who use the most weird and fearsome animal's parts get more customers.

" Its like the modern day clergy, anyone who doesn't sell his own 'anointing water' isn't seen as powerful or credible. Pythons are to traditional healers what anointing  water is to modern day prophets in Zimbabwe" he said on condition on anonymity.

He added " There are many mystical African legend stories associated with it, and as such, healers believe that using parts of its anatomy in invigorates and makes the concoctions powerful. It also goes with the psychology of the people who go to traditional.

"Animals to them symbolise power, and the use of body parts from fierce animals such as pythons, crocodile, lions, fits with the pysche of the customer and is good for business".

The python population is said  not  to be threatened as it is  a shy, big-game hunter animal that prefers to live away from human-populated areas.

However, it faces a serious problem of habitat loss arising from human encroachment and the traditional medicine value also make it a hunted animal.

In 2015, a 78 year old Marange granny, Willie Mutasa revealed that she endured more than two decades ordeal of being sexually abused by a three-metre-long python on a daily basis.

 The reptile was finally killed.

She  confessed that the python was a thorn in his flesh after acquiring it as a magical charm from a Chipinge-based traditional healer around 1973.

Zimhofu villagers under Chief Ndanga area in Zaka were in shock in 2015 after more than 30 pythons were found on top of a grave.


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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

Chuka is an experienced certified web developer with an extensive background in computer science and 18+ years in web design &development. His previous experience ranges from redesigning existing website to solving complex technical problems with object-oriented programming. Very experienced with Microsoft SQL Server, PHP and advanced JavaScript. He loves to travel and watch movies.

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