09 July 2011


In talks I have given about working here in West Africa, I have made the point that facial tumors tend to be viewed as something more than physical, that there is the presupposition that patients with these tumors suffer from some supernatural antecedent cause, be it demon possession, witchcraft, or the anger of God.

I have always, however, felt a little bit disingenuous making these sorts of statements, not because I didn't really believe that they were true, but because they were things I had heard from others who work here, and, as a result, were subject to the vagaries of hearsay. In making these statements, I was at risk of perpetuating an exaggeration.

On June 30, the Standard Times Press, one Freetown's newspapers, published a photograph of a child with a facial tumor. I'm reproducing the accompanying article verbatim.*

12-year-old turns pig

History will never end, at least for the residents of Makeni. It was on Monday, the 28th of June 2011, around 1:30pm, an alarm was raised by the residents of K_____ Street, Makeni, when onlooker witnessed the unusual event of a 12 year old boy, Kaddy Bangura, transforming himself into a pig at his residence.

Makeni it seems has now become infamous as a witchcraft town. This Reporter upon hearing the news went to the Makeni Police Station where Kaddy Bangura was taken to.

I was informed by the Information Police Officer at Makeni Police Station Sergeant Senessie that the boy is presently with the President of the Traditional Healers at Calaba Town.

Upon arrival, the President, Dr. Kabbah, took me to the room where the boy was housed in and was allowed to conduct an interview with him. Kaddy Bangura narrated his story about how having put faeces in his auntie's Foo-Foo she was about to eat, the "Auntie" made a "Karafilo" (a form of protection against evil) which resulted in his being powerless in enacting the transformation from a pig back to his human form, and was thereby left with a pig head and his human body.

The President of the Traditional Healers Association, Dr. Kabbah, noted that there is something going on in the Makeni area.

He admonished all that witchcraft does exist in Sierra Leone. Dr. Kabbah noted that Kaddy's condition now is such that no doctor on Earth can cure him.

*All identifying patient information has been changed to protect privacy; the picture itself is, for the same reason, not reproduced.

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