By James Howard Smith
Similar to magic, development’s promise of a higher global elicits either wish and suspicion from Wataita. Smith indicates that the unexpected adjustments wrought through development—greater wealth for a few, dashed hopes for plenty of more—foster ethical debates that Taita humans convey in occult phrases. by means of rigorously chronicling the ideals and activities of this different community—from annoyed youths to nostalgic seniors, duplicitous preachers to thought-provoking witch doctors—Bewitching Development vividly depicts the social lifetime of previously international rules and practices in postcolonial Africa.
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Extra resources for Bewitching Development: Witchcraft and the Reinvention of Development in Neoliberal Kenya
The Boeing 707 becomes a symbol of speed, transcendence, upward movement, and escape—all central themes in popular Kenyan conceptions of modernizing development—but the professor’s lecture has come to seem more absurd than the pastoralists on the campus lawn. Clearly, the narrative implies, it is ludicrous to educate unemployable university students about advanced flight when the countryside is swallowing up the city, when the only useful thing the once proud university can produce is grass for cows and nomadic pastoralists.
Mothers were, in their view, committing a kind of sacrilege that made the image of women “as the generative force behind the social fabric” (De Boeck 2004, 172) appear as a quaint memory from a bygone era. In reaction, 20 chapter one people like Rasta envisioned more “reasonable” ways of organizing family life and exchange through their efforts to control witchcraft (see chapter 4). This book develops and extends these themes in important respects. First, building on Evans-Pritchard’s (1993) understanding of witchcraft as a problem that points to its own solution and that allows people to publicly work through issues and trauma, I argue that witchcraft beliefs have a productive dimension.
To quote from the government’s report, “The Kenyan Government Development Plans have, over the years, consistently stated the major educational objective as that of producing properly trained, disciplined and patriotic youth. . However, in the recent past, there has been hue and cry in the country that some evil practices, such as those associated with devil worship, have infiltrated the learning institutions . . and, if not checked, will derail us from accomplishing our educational and national objectives” (Presidential Commission of Inquiry 1995, 90).
Bewitching Development: Witchcraft and the Reinvention of Development in Neoliberal Kenya by James Howard Smith