Today, I re-publish this article I previously wrote on December 13 2015. This is a dedication to the four elderly women massacred in Neno on Monday. May the deaths of Eliza Enosi Kanjete (86), Elenefa Kanjete (76), Byson Kanjete (73) and Idesi Julias Kanjete (69) not in be vain. I also re-publish the letter from a reader, in response to the said article.
Diseases, hunger, famine, poverty, bareness, lack of marital harmony, children’s academic failure and any human calamity or shortcomings are associated with the presence of an old figure (s) in a community. For some reason, most of African cultures have grown to believe that the older one grows, the deadlier they become in their attempt to ‘kill’ and eat every one of their ancestors. Those unfortunate to have lost their teeth from old age are the hardest hit and most targeted because society correlates loss of teeth to massive cannibalism. Really? Why does this cannibalism manifest only in old age rather than at any stage? Why has it become a crime to age and exhibit white hair, the very object described by Proverbs as the “crown of glory, if it is found in the way of righteousness?”
There have been, there are and will always be lazy bones with scapegoats to blame their predicaments on. I know people suffer various misfortunes one way or another, whether it is a delayed promotion or the lack of it at all, betrayals and losses. But is it right to always push such repercussions on innocent people, especially the aged, just because they are living when we expect them to die? Again, who determines the time of death? Does death look at age when it stings? Are we to live recklessly so we can push our illnesses to our grannies’ unprecedented appetites to which we have no proof of? Are we not a part of a lineage partly formed by the very grannies we blame our misfortunes on? Why should we all of a sudden become tantalising in the eyes of our aged relations who have raised us and forefathers from babyhood? Why did they not feast on us when young and tender only to target our now mostly diseased or intoxicated bodies? Have they not competently raised our parents who in turn bore us?
The reality of witchcraft is neither here nor there in this entry. For all I know, witchcraft can be practised by any age. I am only thinking ahead of times when I age or indeed those in the forefront of attributing mishaps to old people. How will society deem us then? Will we cease to be the productive and caring citizens that we are to turn against our fellow men for food? Do we indeed have proof to substantiate the claims of associating wrinkles with bad omens?
I am challenging those with proof, scientific or otherwise, to show the correlation between old age and cannibalism, whether the act is indeed inevitable if not a figment of one’s imagination passed on through generations. Is the current generation of middle-aged also destined for human meat in a few years to come? If it is true, how do we arrest it? If untrue, how do we correct the perceptions? How can we save the lives of many old people in villages under such spotlights or indeed protect them from undue isolation that they are subjected to?