Friday, April 25, 2014

Marketing and Traditional Medicine

I studied marketing in college and am fascinated by the way businesses function here in Mozambique.  A while back, we were in the city of Pemba when I spotted this sign.  I stepped into the yard and introduced myself to the traditional healer who owned the house.  I explained who I was and asked permission to take this picture.  Below I'll paste a loose translation of what it says.

Traditional Doctor Here
Consultations for:
A little bit of everything but not HIV / AIDS.
Try it and confirm its effectiveness for yourself.
This doctor treats: Any pain related to the belly or womb in women, high blood pressure, stroke, gives a bath that will give the person luck, personal defense, for a house, for a car, for a boat, for a fishing net
Treats the following diseases: urine, skin, monthly cycle, impotence in men, hernias in baby, reduces umbilical hernias in babies as well.
Spiritually and morally: Defeat the evil jinn spirit with a good jinn spirit.
Recover your luck in regards to: employment, business, remove the effects of witchcraft on your person.
In addition, the doctor treats problems related to love and passion.
On call 24 hours a day. Contact at
the following numbers: 82...; 84...; 86...

I want to highlight a few things about this advertisement.

First of all, it is fascinating that he says from the start that he doesn't treat HIV/AIDS.  I've heard that the gov't has cracked down on this and told traditional healers to leave treatment of people with AIDS to the hospitals.  That is good - can you imagine what would happen if people stopped taking their drug treatments thinking they had been cured by a traditional healer?

Secondly, this man is selling blessings related to almost every area of life.  He offers "productive magic" through spells to help people find a job (even a fishing net!), get a house, a car or find a mate.  And he also offers "protective magic" to help people not suffer from illnesses and attacks by evil spirits.  Jinn (or jinni, pl) is a word borrowed from Arabic (where we get the term genie) for an unseen spirit that can effect people in the physical realm.  It is sad, though, that his only solution to being possessed by an evil jinn is to accept possession by a 'good' one.  (For more information about how spirit possession functions in our context, click here.)

Thirdly, this traditional healer lists phone numbers with all three of the cell phone carriers in Mozambique.  He wants to make it as easy as possible for people to contact him.

Africa is certainly becoming more urban and modern.  But even in large cities like our provincial capital, the occult is a part of everyday life and has a strong influence.

Please pray for the church in Mozambique to be able to respond effectively to the pressures of folk religion.  God's people have access to power and blessing that is good and lasting.  May we learn how to most effectively make it available to those who are lost and hurting.

Grace and Peace,


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