Sniff­ing out ‘prophets for profit’

Post - - Opinion - KAREN PILLAY Karen Pillay is an in­de­pen­dent de­vel­op­ment prac­ti­tioner

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.

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