Chawama: The Town That Hoaxes

Here's a strange article about a town in Africa full of people who love to perpetrate hoaxes. Sounds like a charming, quirky place, until you learn that almost all the hoaxes involve accusing people of being spawns of Satan. Such as the time last week when a large crowd turned out to hunt down a 15-year-old girl they thought had turned into a satanic pig. The author of the article argues that all these hoaxes actually serve a serious purpose: "to bring people together to appreciate the seriousness of a particular problem". But I'm really not following his logic.


Posted on Tue Feb 01, 2005


Someone has been watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail too much down there.

"She turned me into a newt!"
Posted by Splarka  on  Wed Feb 02, 2005  at  04:11 AM
The link to the article doesn't appear to be working. Does anyone have a copy of the article?
Posted by Tru  on  Wed Feb 02, 2005  at  08:54 AM
Should be working now. There was an extra space in the url by mistake.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Wed Feb 02, 2005  at  09:48 AM
This is an excellent example of the kind of story one often sees in African newspapers. Interesting, but somewhat inscrutable. It's sort of as if every second paragraph has been censored out of the story (which could be true, come to think of it).
As far as I can tell from the article, the "serious problems" these hoaxes call attention to are:
1. Cursed money that changes people into pigs.
2. Nurses coming back from the dead and stealing babies.
3. Naked wizards crash-landing in town (which DOES seem kind of dangerous).
Posted by Big Gary C  on  Wed Feb 02, 2005  at  10:05 AM
...Is it really hoaxes that are being pulled off, or just a wild rumor? It's one thing for someone to overhear part of a conversation & then turn around & tell someone else they just heard about someone who turned into a pig...but maybe I didn't really understand the article.
Posted by Maegan  on  Wed Feb 02, 2005  at  10:39 AM
Guess I know where I'm going for my next vacation!
Posted by Tru  on  Wed Feb 02, 2005  at  10:41 AM
Since, according to the newspaper, one guy who went to the police station and asked to see the pig was grabbed by the police, beaten, and then thrown into a cell where inmates repeatedly kicked him in the head, I'm still thinking over whether I want to stop in Chawama on my next vacation.
Posted by Big Gary C  on  Wed Feb 02, 2005  at  02:34 PM
Of course you don't get it your American.
Posted by shamus  on  Sat Feb 05, 2005  at  02:03 PM
It's probably an insider joke in a Zambian context. Magic and witchcraft are still mainstream in Zambia. Check out the last online edition of the Times of Zambia. A police officer hired a diviner to recover stolen property and is now suing him for failing to deliver
Posted by a couple of mice  on  Sat Feb 19, 2005  at  09:09 AM
Yeah well I was there for two weeks in November this year and I never saw anything like that.. the people there are terribly sweet and I love them some of the stuff on here might be true but it makes them sound like weird people and they are not.. why not say good things
Posted by Nikki  on  Wed Feb 08, 2006  at  11:56 AM
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