| Culture spotting

By: Howzzzt  11-11-2011

Updated; first published 09 April 2009

The omnipotent Professor Mamba (& Associates) is a spectacular and heavily marketed urban version of the sangomas – also known, in less politically correct parlance, as witch doctors – that dot the South African landscape.

Part of a flyer, describing in considerable detail the services offered by Professor Mamba & Associates, distributed in Johannesburg.

Magic medicine and curse-work is a profitable and vibrant subculture in South Africa. As a tourist you’d have to go looking for it, in township markets or in rural villages, but it is pervasive if not obvious. We sometimes refer to it as the magic market, which is similar to the black market only more underground.

Professor Mamba is also, apparently, more benign than some. Like just about every magic tradition the South African version also has a dark side, and some practitioners play on both sides of the fence. There is muti (medicine) that requires ingredients found only deep inside the human body, and some rituals require sacrifices; no prizes for guessing what kind of sacrifice is most powerful.

Almost all African magic relies on the intervention of the ancestors, who are both powerful and very helpful as long as you give them the respect they require. But in more modern blends of magic there is a greater emphasis on herbal potions and fringe science. Instead of throwing the bones to see into the future you may find a sangoma throwing crystal fragments and reading the pattern in those.

A word to the unwary: if you require the services of somebody like the eminent Professor Mamba, tread carefully. Stick to practitioners that work from public places where you feel comfortable, and avoid ingesting anything you can’t readily identify. Some of the strongest muti contains battery acid, for starters.

Here is an extract from the long list of services Professor Mamba has on offer:

His specialities include, but are not limited to:

5. Remove the black spot in your hand that keeps taking your money away.

7. Introducing (Mulondox) blend for enlarging the penis in both length and girth of the tissues and muscle thus increasing size. It naturally releases suspensory ligaments from the base of the testicles making it big and strong on a permanent basis with 100% erection capability.

11. Ensure excellent school grades even for children with mental disabilities.

18. Bring supernatural luck into your life to win chance games like lotto, Casino dice, black jack, machines etc.
19. Bring you to see your enemies and make demands on them using a mirror.

UPDATE: Enter Professor J.J. Ssali
07 September, 2009

It could be pure coincidence, or perhaps they are using the same advertising agency. Far be it from us to suggest that anything less than proper or medical is happening here. But we couldn’t help notice the extraordinarily close resemblance between the abilities ascribed to Professor Mamba five months ago and those now within the grasp of Professor J.J. Ssali.

Hey, if it works for the Masai..

Ssali, it seems, can also identify your problems before you tell them, although it is not entirely clear whether this is a psychic ability with which he was born or whether this power derives from the ancient wizardly methodologies he has mastered.

According to his marketing material Prof Ssali is regarded by many as one of the greatest healers on the planet today. Like Prof Mamba he seemingly believes that increasing the size of the male member is the most important use to which his art can be put.

Here is a sampling of Ssali’s claims:

The speciality includes:

Remove the bad spell from your life which keeps taking away.

Make you see your enemies in the mirror and make demands on them.

Bring super natural luck into your life

UPDATE 2: It’s raining magicians! Please welcome: Prof. Lumumba & Ali, Prof LS Lutta & Mama Muna, Dr. Shedwa, Professor Wakho and Prof MB Mobutu
18 October, 2009

Dr Shedwa

Either Professor Mamba started a wildly successful franchise, or his magic extends to cloning himself, or he is being shamelessly ripped off. Besides Mamba and Ssali we have managed, over the last couple of weeks, to collect no less than five different fliers from different magicians headquartered in different parts of Johannesburg and surrounds.

But it is not their differences that make them interesting. Quite the opposite.

Professor Wakho

Three of these five newcomers claim to have single-handedly developed the breakthrough Masai Gel that is so powerful a penis-enlargement agent. It took each of them thirteen years of research, and they had to go to “amazing lengths” to find the ingredients, so expect to pay a premium. The other two are somewhat more original; one retails “Sokoto mixture” (“special for weak men in bed”) and the other peddles “Ntego Improved Cream” (“suitable for all ages”).

Prof LS Lutta & Mama Muna

Three make a point of pointing out that “all whites, blacks, coloured, Indians, etc” are welcome, and we’d assume that also includes foreign visitors. Those same three will also charge only R100 for a consultation,

Prof MB Mobutu

Now to the typical (slightly superior and somewhat ill-informed) offshore observer this may not seem like a big deal. Darkest Africa is a place of mystery and magic, after all, and South Africa is pretty mature commercial environment; combine the two and you get a heavily marketed magic franchise, right?

Prof Lumumba & Ali

Not so. For many decades witch doctors were about as easy to find as drug dealers; there was one around every corner, but they kept a low enough profile to avoid the authorities. They attracted customers almost entirely by word of mouth or, to keep an open mind, through some magical attractive force that they emenated. After 1994, even with sort-of kind-of partial recognition of traditional healers by medial authorities, a couple of these practitioners set up storefronts and hired receptionists, but they could hardly be said to have gone mainstream.

Contact Howzzzt

Email - none provided

Print this page


Other products and services from Howzzzt

11-11-2011 | Travel

Park anywhere outside of a designated parking spot, or dare to enter the hallowed ground of a parking bay reserved for the disabled, and brightly-coloured jaws of immobility will swiftly be attached to your rental. There are certain places infected with fixed-position speed traps, such as the stretch of highway between Cape Town city and the Cape Town International Airport.

11-11-2011 | Food & drink

Sometimes that’s just because we use different names for species you’ll find elsewhere in the world, but we also have a couple of fairly exotic ones that you need to try out. It’s more common than Snoek on the menus of upmarket restaurants, possibly because there is no polite way to eat Snoek with a knife and fork. Sought-after and considered a luxury fish, Kingklip is appreciated for its firm texture and rich taste.