/ / “The Witch Doctor and The MD”

“The Witch Doctor and The MD”

The Congolese man arrived at the hospital at Nyankunde with non-specific complaints. Dr. Bob listened to his story with great interest and then gave him a very thorough examination. Blood work was done and a urine sample tested. A full history was meticulously carried out. Everything came back “negative”.Dr. Bob was puzzled. Why would a man believe he was dying if all his tests indicated he was well? 

The man apparently owed money to another Congolese man in his village and was unable to pay what he had promised. The debtor had become enraged and had gone to the witch doctor to seek revenge. For the standard price of a chicken, or one dollar, the witch doctor promised to put a curse on the offending villager.

The local witch doctor was a man of significant influence and since, by tradition, he was the only healer in the community, he wielded a great deal of power. If a distressed person came to him with a physical complaint he might make cuts all around the wound or the swelling, pour a libation on the area while saying incantations or dance wildly around the villager in the hope that healing would result. His charge was always one dollar or one chicken. The chicken was often ritually killed, and the entrails used in the complex ritual. A  witchdoctor’s curse is very powerful. The patient hoped that since there was no other witch doctor available to him that could remove the curse  that  the white doctor’s treatment would overcome the situation.

The new medical clinic followed the local tradition and charged each patient one dollar or one chicken for an out-patient visit, so Dr. Bob charged his ‘well’ patient a dollar believing that his patient would still be healthy in the morning.

Dr. Bob put his hand on the patient and said a prayer for him, assured him that he was in perfect health, and asked the man’s friend, who had accompanied him to the hospital, to stay with him overnight. Bob then went to bed for a good night’s sleep. 

When he awoke in the morning, Dr. Bob  immediately went out to find his patient and to check on his condition. On finding the man’s friend, he discovered that the man had died peacefully at six o’clock that morning as had been predicted by the witchdoctor.

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