Sniffing out ‘prophets for profit’
THERE have been many publications in local media on the plight of unsuspecting people duped by so-called “Men of God” or “Holy Men”.
I decided to do a “Jessica Fletcher-type” investigation to find out more about the dilemma of “who did it”.
Often we find that women are more susceptible to these “dangerous or deadly persuasions” used to lure victims into a web of deceit, fear and suspicion, and to create divisions in families that would have been close were it not for unverified predictions by these alleged “seers”.
The victim is told they will lose their worldly possessions, their family will suffer loss to lives, etc, if they do not do as they are told.
Fear drives victims to take drastic and often risky measures to safeguard their loved ones and, of course, their material possessions.
It is often the older generation that gives credence to the words and predictions of these “false prophets”.
While I do believe that some people genuinely go into a mode of higher spiritual energy, referred to as a “trance state”, through meditation and strict fasting, some people use these mediums for their own agendas to fleece the gullible and perpetuate the fear of God.
I spoke to a few young women and men who were forced by their parents to go and “get blessed” by someone believed to have trance-induced powers.
One young lady told me her uncle – who claimed to have these powers – had told her such irrational things that she actually stopped believing in a higher power or God figure.
Apparently she was told she should not “think higher than she can achieve” and that she would suffer in life, etc.
The person in the state of trance went so far as to “put the camphor off in a violent and aggressive manner and curse the child” for challenging the statements made by this person in a trance state as untrue.
This young lady was utterly devastated by this behaviour from someone whom one should respect as having a higher spiritual energy and who was also a close family member that she loved and respected.
Another young man said that some of what he had been told was actually family gossip and common knowledge.
Most young people I chatted with said the person they went to for “blessings” told them they were possessed by a “devil or evil spirit”, and threatened them or asked their families to engage in ethnic ritualistic practices to remove the evil spirit.
Families also said they were told by people in a so-called trance state that “someone did it to them and it is a family member”.
But they had no idea who the culprit was, and so started suspecting the family, both immediate and extended.
They had even distanced themselves from certain family members due to these suspicions.
The person informing them in a trance state of this alleged problem couldn’t identify the culprit, but arranged for the family to consult them for so-called blessings.
They then continued to believe these false predictions, creating a cycle of suspicion, mistrust and violence within the family.
I then went as far afield as far as the “Mother Land” to find out about “the trance uncle”.
I was told that while trance is a medium that one can attain by practising austerity and spirituality, it is only in the rural areas that people strongly believe in the predictions and actually act on the predictions of people in this state.
Most people, they say, have evolved spiritually and do not continue with ritualistic practices that involve the “trance uncle” or so-called “seers”.
This raises the question of why people feel the desperate need to believe in the trancestate, sangomas or so-called seers and spiritualists who promise to rid them of the challenges they face, be they financial, marital or family issues. Is there an issue of lack of confidence, knowledge or decision-making skills?
The more evolved and learned people understand that the choices they make in life dictate their consequences.
For example, if they make bad choices, they will face difficulties and if they make good ones, they will have a smooth life.
It all depends on one’s perspective of life.
If a person lives on credit and loses their job, does it mean that someone did it to them? No, definitely not. It is simply a consequence of their actions.
If a person loses their business, surely they should explore what type of business practices they were implementing and what were the unanticipated risks to their business that resulted in them losing their business?
Likewise, if a youngster is giving his or her parents problems, the parents should look at how communication and information is being shared in the home, rather than expect the so-called holy person to put their child on the right track.
People abdicate responsibility and accountability for their actions by blaming an unidentified person or family member for the woes that befall them.
This does not mean that all people who try to assist those in need by using their abilities and spiritual gifts are conmen or fraudulent.
There are some people who are genuine.
One has to be more discerning in one’s need for blessings and use of the power of spirituality.
Why do people feel the desperate need to believe in the trance, sangoma or so-called seers and spiritualists who promise to rid them of the challenges they face, asks the writer.