Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Guest Post! Robert Mugabe, yoga & witchcraft - A Guest Post & Excerpt from Lisa de Nikolits

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Lisa de Nikolits

How Robert Mugabe used yoga to legalize witchcraft in Zimbabwe: A Guest Post and Excerpt from Lisa de Nikolits

From Lisa de Nikolits, author of The Witchdoctor’s Bones (Inanna Publications):

This, The Witchdoctor’s Bones, is my fourth novel, and, while the story is primarily a psychological thriller/murder mystery set in Africa, featuring an unusual group of travellers on a deadly safari, it is also a study of morality

While writing the book, I researched vast tracts of African folklore, myths, legends and superstitions. I also integrated historical facts such as the link between the origins of Nazi evil and the plight of the Bushmen. In addition, modern-day Africa cannot escape her ancient traditions, which were also integrated into the book.

What started out at 220,000 words had to be halved and I thought, more than once that it might be impossible to achieve my dream of seeing the book published.
And now, finally, the book has been sculpted and honed and while I couldn’t be more delighted with the final product, I was saddened that some of the fascinating research didn’t make it into print and I’d like to share one such passage with you here — a piece about how Robert Mugabe used yoga to legalize witchcraft in Zimbabwe in order to further his own greed and manipulate the masses who were already beaten into submission by fear, illness, poverty and a hopelessness in the future.

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EXCERPT
A note re below passage: Jono is the tour guide and an amateur historian.

“Let me ask you this,” Jono said, “did any of you know that some people in Africa regard yoga as a kind of witchcraft, a satanic practice?”
“What on earth?” Sofie exclaimed. “That’s impossible. Explain please, Jono.”
“Well,” Jono said, “it’s got to do with the consequences of believing in witches and the supernatural. Under Colonial rule, witchcraft was suppressed because it was said that it is a madness that leads to the most horrific and illogical actions. Witches, and the belief in witches can bring out the paranoia and irrationality in even the most sane of men. You see, the witches can make or break a man, even a king. Shaka, King of the Zulus used witches to gain great power and recently the infamous Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe has followed his lead in many ways.”
He looked at the silent group “It’s so funny,” he said, “how people always love to hear about a witch, why is that?” He glanced around but no one replied.
“Firstly,” he continued, “Mugabe legalized witchcraft in order to use witches to stay in power because they will frighten people into thinking he is invincible, and they will intimidate his enemies.
“The second advantage for him is that he can hide political murders by saying they were witchcraft murders and also, he can blame the suffering of the masses on supernatural, evil forces, rather than blame his bad government which is profiting directly from their suffering.”
“Wily,” Sofie said, “disgusting but wily.”
“Ingenious,” Stepfan said. “An astute political move.”
The two glared at one another.
“Aikona, am I going to have to throw cold water on you two, like on fighting dogs?” Jono asked. “Come now. Stop arguing. So, now Mugabe is free to conduct witch hunts if he has enough ‘evidence’ that the person is a witch and for him, finding evidence is easy, so if he wants to kill somebody, all he has to do is accuse them of witchcraft. The Witchcraft Suppression Act was amended and now accusations of witchcraft are legal.”
“Yes, fine,” Sofie was impatient. “What still, what’s the connection between yoga and witchcraft?”
“Mugabe used yoga’s satanic associations,” Jono said, “to help justify his amendment of the Suppression act. Without yoga, he might not have been able to bring back the witches.”
“I am still very muddled.” Sofie frowned and the others echoed in agreement.
“Let me try to explain more clearly,” Jono said. “I must admit this might not sound like the most logical of arguments but it served its purpose. How does the argument work? Like this. According to purists, yoga was originally a religion, not an exercise and it has never practiced for physical health reasons alone. The postures and breathing were not done in isolation to the rest of the yogic practices but as part of religion.
“The West took the poses and used them as a form of exercise, but, unlike running or swimming which involve hard work and exertion, which is a classic definition of exercise, yoga delivers relaxation and the accessing of higher states. So even although we call it exercise, yoga still comes bearing hidden gifts shall we say, and those hidden gifts are its innate spirituality that can never be eradicated. In other words, no matter what you think, when you do yoga, you buy into its core religion, even if you think you are just stretching and breathing nicely.”
He looked around at his audience.
“Now,” he continued, “all forms of original yoga were designed to worship Hindu gods and all of them emphasized and focused on the attainment of trance-like states, much like hypnosis. These states make a person highly susceptible to outside influence. In that way, the brainwashing potential of yoga becomes obvious. So if yoga is considered to be legally permitted to be practiced by the Western world, then so must witchcraft, because yoga is a kind of witchcraft, involving self-hypnosis, trances and altered meditative states.”
“Are you serious?” interrupted Sofie. “I can’t believe what I’m hearing. Does no one else here think this is just the craziest, most backward thing you’ve ever heard?”
“I think you should let the man continue,” Richard said. “Frankly, I’m enthralled although I’m still confused. I get the general idea but I’m not sure if I’m convinced. Go on, Jono.”
“It’s quite simple.” Jono explained. “There are those who believe strongly that yoga today, and as it was in ancient times, encourages an escapism and a weakness of mind that is consistent with idolatry and magic, the very opposite of the moral discipline and fear of God that is typical of Christian religions. Yoga encourages a self-indulgent and selfish spirituality that is entirely incompatible with a sense of duty, obligation and hard work, or so say the devout God-fearing believers. Now not all teachers of yoga realize there was a dark side but remember, the Nazi’s used the swastika symbol taken directly from the Hindu tradition and the reason was because their movement was largely based on Theosophist influences.”
“The Theo what?” Gisela asked.
“The Theosophists were openly anti-Semitic activists of Satan who worshipped in the 1800’s” Jono clarified, “and they continue to exist today, infiltrating the highest levels of government. They have strong Communist leanings and some people say they are entirely responsible for the New Age movement which is why so many conservative people regard New Ageism as satanic or evil. Of course, as I say, most people who do yoga have no idea about this side of things.”
“I see,” Gisela said slowly, “yoga equals brainwashing, trance states and a kind of non-Christian religion. Yoga is legal there for witchcraft should also be legal. Witchcraft is a handy tool for Mugabe, to help him stay in power, so he used the accepted status of yoga to get witchcraft back into play again.”
“You got it.” Jono applauded her.
“Sorry Sofie,” Richard looked at her. “But I have to agree with Stepfan on this one, it was a very clever strategy.”
Stepfan puffed out his chest and nodded as if the political strategy were his idea.
“Just because it’s a political strategy that works doesn’t prove he is right in any of his postulations,” Sofie protested. “The unfortunate use of the lovely ancient swastika by the Nazi’s, meditation, New Age aspects, none of that proves that yoga is evil. Whether you use yoga for good or evil is a matter of intention.”
“But how do you control intention?” Jono asked. “You can’t. Tell me Sofie, if I gave you a gun and said ‘use this with good intention,’ what would you do?”
“I wouldn’t touch it,” Sofie said, “because with that kind of weapon, there is no good.”
“A lot of people feel the same about yoga; that no good can come of it, but if yoga is a legal practice and everybody is free to do it, then the same must be applied to witchcraft and guns.”
“Guns and yoga.” Sofie shook her head. “Now yoga is a gun?”
“Perhaps what is most interesting,” Jono said, “in all of this, is how creatively manipulative man is, how he can and will use anything he needs to, in order to increase his power, how he will stop at nothing to get what he wants. What is right today is wrong tomorrow, it all depends on who is in power.”

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