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Tanzania gets ‘voodoo newspaper’

Feb. 18, 2004 • Thursday February 19, 2004

A newspaper about witchcraft, superstition and life after death has been launched in Tanzania.

The publishers say “Jungu Kuu” (Big Pot) aims to educate people about witchcraft in a country where such beliefs are common.

There have been numerous reports of old women being killed after being accused of witchcraft.

Editor Munga Tehenan told the BBC that the paper would educate people to stop them being cheated by bogus healers.

“I do believe, but what is witchcraft?” he asks.

The BBC’s John Ngahyoma in Dar-es-Salaam says the weekly paper’s first lead story is a feature about how common it is for the dead to contact the living, using the example of a recently deceased popular musician.

‘No criticism’

Mr Tehenan says every human being is superstitious, giving examples of people praying for the dead and horoscopes.

Mr Tehenan believes that his Swahili-language paper will have a wide readership and that sources of information are unlimited in a country where many people believe in witchcraft.

“Our paper intends to clarify matters that are not known to many.

“We are not going to criticise anyone but we are going to tell them what happens when they are given charms, say for promotion or getting the right partner in life,” he said.

He says the paper has already received lots of phone calls, for example from a woman seeking advice on how to get a man to marry her.

As the first issue has only just hit the streets, many city dwellers have yet to read the paper.

Political analyst and activist Prince Bagenda has read it and describes it as “very interesting”.

He describes himself as “a Christian with a scientific mind” but says he too believes in “superstition”.

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