Those of you who have read my book will know that an entire chapter is devoted to the spirit world that swirls around those of us who live on the African content - and much is made of the chipokos, mermaids and goblins that bother us on a daily basis.
In fact, the cover page of the book features a picture of the time I scared the living beetle-juice out of my staff by pretending to be a goblin with the help of a very goblin-like mask, and suddenly appearing in the linen room.
Yesterday, then, we were in town and chanced upon an advertising billboard of the 'Manica Post' our local paper, and a devoted proponent of that well-know marketing adage that... 'goblins sell papers'.
(The story being advertised by 'The Herald' in the background was no less interesting - about a woman who discovered her husbands name only after being married to him for 3 years! But that is not the topic of today's blog).
Of course, the paper had to be bought, and though the story is not at all remarkable - what was somewhat attention-getting is the fact that the price this fellow charges for goblins is very, very reasonable! He charges $25 - or around £16. Believe me - that is cheap!
And - you don't have to feed his goblins the blood of your closest relatives, as is usually the case. Instead of your sister or father, these goblins will be quite satisfied with the blood of your cattle and chickens. So! A real bargain all round - though I would suggest that the legal precept of 'caveat emptor' would apply here, and if these basement bargains don't perform as well as the standard-issue goblin, then I doubt you would get a refund!
The adjacent story is no less riveting. While I have made mention of chipokos and tokoloshes in my book - I failed to mention 'ngozis'. This is part of Shona culture which deals with murder - and an ngozi is the spirit of someone who has been murdered - this spirit returning and taking up residence in a relative or wife of the murderer - and being a right nuisance until the dead fellow is avenged, and justice done. I guess in Western society we would call this 'demonic possession' - but it deals specifically with the spirit of the murdered one - so to speak.
The pic is also interesting because it depicts a 'traditional court' in session in amongst a grove of trees. While Zimbabwe has a Supreme Court, a High Court, and Provincial Courts, there are certain legal concerns which simply have not been covered by Roman Dutch Law - because the fellows in Potters Bar never considered making laws about them. Ngozis, goblins, mermaids and the like are therefore dealt with under 'customary law' - wielded and presided over by the local chiefs. And Nyanga - where both of these stories hail from, is a hotbed of traditional beliefs, so much so that the local word for a 'traditional healer' (medicine man?) is 'nganga'.
Anyone interested in a subscription to what some may call this 'squalid little rag' should contact me, and I will buy and forward copies on a weekly basis for your sole entertainment. Let me know.