The craziest thing happened at church yesterday.
Pastor Mbaya spoke about evil spirits in his sermon. It just so happens that one of the men in our congregation, without knowing that this would be the message, decided to exorcise his own evil spirits. Mr. DeCosta is a really nice guy with a wife from Code D'Ivoire and with a sweet little daughter, Angel. After the church service, Pastor had us all assemble in the courtyard outside. I guess Mr. DeCosta bought this soap stuff from a witch doctor in Cote D'Ivoire, and was using it as sort of a good luck charm. The witch doctor told him that if he washes with this gross black paste every day, that he would find a good job and success with his family. He said that he paid 50,000 CFA for it = over $100. DeCosta has realized that African Animism and Christianity do not jive, so he can no longer live with feet in both camps. He wanted to get rid of all vestiges of his old life, involved in all sorts of gris-gris practices, so he decided to burn this soap with us as witnesses.
Anyway, Pastor opened up this big tub of chunky tar-like substance and lit it on fire as we prayed. There was such a wierd aura and I couldnt take my eyes off of it. All of a sudden, the skull of something emerged from the flames. It looked like a dog skull, but Sandra said she thinks it was the head of some giant snake. I cant even really descibe the moment, but the flames didnt just burn away to expose something underneath....no, this head came out of the paste. Mrs. DeCosta screamed and I got the dry heaves. We were all taken aback. This thing with teeth started melting...or oozing...not burning and turning to ash like normal bones. It was probably one of the creepiest, most demonic things I've ever personally experienced.
After most of the substance was burned, the guys dug a hole and buried it deep. I felt relieved and...light, I think is a good word. How incredible it is to be able to be free from that dark of a force. I know this description may sound cliche or dramatic, but it was just an insane experience.
Talking with Freddy afterwards, he said that stuff like this is a normal part of African Traditionalism, and that he's seen people die by the power of some demonic force. I mean, even if you watch a sporting event on TV, for at least an hour before the match, the Islamic marabouts and animist leaders are out on the field, doing all sorts of rights and rituals and prayers, like dousing the players with baobab juice or having them wear certain clothing or putting them in a trance. And I wont even get into what I learned in Casamance about the Boite Sacrée ceremonies where village matriarchs do mystic animal sacrifices deep in the woods at night, in order to stop the violence in their region. Wild.
I'm so grateful that I'm protected from this, because the One that is in me is greater than he that is in the world. It's so interesting to me, but it's nothing to mess around with.
Oh Africa, the eternal educator.