DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Master Kipoy will see to your haemorrhoids now...

We've all been handed a leaflet at the metro exit promising that a visit to the African witch doctor will cure you of any kind of cancer or bring your wife back. Our Observer in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, tells us about these mini miracles in his homeland.

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We've all been handed a leaflet at the metro exit promising that a visit to the African witch doctor will cure you of any kind of cancer or bring your wife back. Our Observer in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, tells us about these mini miracles in his homeland.

Cédric Kalonji is a journalist for Radio Okapi in Kinshasa. In 2007 his Congoblog was voted number one French-speaking weblog in the international BOBS (Best of the Blogs) awards, a competition organised by the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

No need to study or get a degree. Reciting a few verses of the bible and learning to boil up some roots and leaves is more useful. What's really important however, is to know how to lure a potential client into believing that all his problems are solvable by mere enchantment. And, of course, that miracles don't come cheap and that he'll have to pay.

The other day I came across a "faith healing centre" set up in a building the size of a box room. The list of illnesses that they claimed to be able to miraculously overcome was quite dizzying. Being cursed, epilepsy, paralysis, rheumatism, haemorrhoids, meningitis and "sexual problems" were but just a few of them. Looking at the spellings of the words - haemorrhoids was spelt "emoraide" and meningitis "Menijutte" - I don't think precision in that department was of the greatest importance.

I would have very much liked to talk to Mister Kipoy, the patron of this wonder-hut, about the rather bleak visions of the future of our country I've been suffering from. Sadly, he wasn't in..."