Mubobobo - The African Black Magic - Myth or Reality?

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Despite being marked by varied tribal, religious, linguistic and communal identities, certain beliefs lie at the heart of African tradition and one of this is the belief in the existence of magic. Though a western model of education has shown the practical use of science and logic in daily life, the continuing faith in magic has resulted in certain widely held concepts, one of which is Mubobobo.

What is Mubobobo?

Mubobobo is a kind of black magic whereby a man can supposedly have sex with a woman from a distance and without her consent.  In effect, it refers to a magical remote sexual intercourse, metaphorically called ‘blue tooth sex’, as it generally ‘connects’ perpetrator and victim within an eye-shot distance or even beyond. It refers to the magic for engaging in a sexual intercourse without consent and physical contact. As such one could not lose virginity or contract HIV because there is no physical contact.

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The belief and supposed practice of Mubobobo is most common in Zimbabwe, especially in Masvingo province. It is thought to have originated from neighbouring countries such as South Africa, Mozambique and Malawi. Some believe that the practice is especially prevalent In rural areas, mining and resettlement areas as well as in towns and cities.

Research scholar Fortune Sibanda of Great Zimbabwe University, Masvingo explores the concept of mubobobo in a paper titled,  Experiencing Sex via the ‘Blue Tooth’: Phenomenological Reflections on the Nature, Use and Impact of Mubobobo in Zimbabwe1. The study established three main types of mubobobo in Zimbabwe. Firstly, there is the one in which Mubobi or the practitioner of mubobobo  performs the sexual act during day light and there is no physical contact with the victim. These are regarded as daring users of mubobobo who may employ the magic in public even at gatherings such as soccer matches, pamusika or market places and on public transport like buses.

Secondly, there is the nocturnal one whereby the man or woman perpetrator operates at night in the fashion of a typical witch or wizard. In this case, the victim usually has visions of having sex with someone during their sleep such that on waking up they feel as though they had sexual intercourse.

Thirdly, mubobi may use symbolic objects to have sex with his victim. This can be done in two different ways. in one of the situations, the perpetrator uses objects belonging to the would-be victim such as an underwear to have a kind of remote sexual encounter with her. In the other situation, the symbolic objects can manifest as zvitumwa meaning witch or animal familiars such as snakes, lizards or zvikwambo (goblins) to perform their mubobobo magic. Phallic symbolic objects also feature under the nature of mubobobo.

Why use Mubobobo

Sibanda’s paper puts forth a wide variety of reasons why mubobobo magic is practiced. For some, it was done as a habit (chijairira) and also out of ruchiva or lust for a particular person in the village who could not be attained through normal means for a sexual encounter. For instance, some participants pointed out since the majority of those that use mubobobo are usually elderly men who are single or divorced, this explains why they would resort to this magic for solace in sexual terms. This suggests that these perpetrators are enticed by the physical outlook of their victims so that when their attentions are rejected by young women, they resort to the use of the ‘blue tooth sex’ with a partner of their choice. In addition, mubobobo is used by people who are shy to propose love to women so that they can satisfy their sexual desire without having to say a word to women they want. Yet others use mubobobo out of cruelty and constitutes a form of rape when this kind of telepathic sex is forced on an unwilling victim. At times if a man’s love proposals are turned down, some men regard mubobobo as an alternative means of revenge. Mubobobo is also used for a wide variety of economic reasons, ranging from a desire to increase crop and livestock production through divisi or charm for producing bumper harvest to enhancing business ventures. In line with the above, the study also established that some people use mubobobo to strengthen their Power and authority at the work place. For instance, Sibanda’s study mentions a case where some school heads employed mubobobo for luck as well as to protect and enhance their leadership posts. Finally the magic has been popularised due to the fear of contracting HIV and AIDS and other sexually Transmitted Infections. Sibanda’s paper mentions that some perpetrators prefer to use mubobobo because it is disease-free, cost-effective as it is virtually free of charge once the practitioner has the magical. It was also regarded as self-gratifying venture in which they could perform it on victims of their choice without fear of getting venereal diseases and HIV and AIDS.  

Is it a kind of Myth?

Like many other concepts of magic, Mubobobo is dismissed by the rational and scientific community as example of induced hysteria and hallucination. While the general population in countries like Zimbabwe may believe in Mubobobo, official institutions are wary of including a faith in magic into their laws and procedures. Thus Sibanda points out how a scepticism regarding the existence of mubobobo in legal frameworks of Zimbabwe can affect the outcome of rape cases in the courts. The research paper refers to a 44 year old man who was found not guilty and acquitted before a Mbare magistrate from the accusation that he had used ‘remote sexual intercourse’ (mubobobo) against a woman complainant. The magistrate dismissed the case as lacking evidence.

Is it based in Reality

While western audiences may find it difficult to believe that sex can be had remotely, the concept of magic is also understood variedly by different people. Magic involves the use of symbols that possess symbolic actions and special meanings. In this context, mubobobo is a magic that is not illusionary but a reality characterised by symbolic actions practiced by those with the mystical power. The belief in mystical powers is pervasive among Africans but like all other resources, it can be put to both good use and bad. Believers in the magic of Mubobobo point to the plethora of reports that have come out in the media in recent times2 about people who have had hysteria, hallucinations, miscarriages and other traumatic experiences due to the effects of this mysterious magic. Even university scholars like Sibanda  believe that at the end of the day, mubobobo is a diabolic magical practice whose effects are traumatic to individual victims and contemporary Zimbabwean society alike. Despite his belief in the existence of magic, however he insists that the call for cultural and heritage reclamation should be wary of upholding bad heritage in the form of mubobobo.

Whether or not magical practices are gounded in reality is finally a matter of individual opinion. The main thing in context of Mubobobo is that it continues as a living concept in certain African societies. In fact the magic is today identified by a variety of terms such as ‘blue tooth sex’, ‘remote control sex’, ‘African wireless sex’, ‘African technology sex’ which reveal how the practice is moving with the times and re-inventing itself with technological advancements. Apart from this, it has also emerged in the minds of many people as a viable alternative to real sex at a time when protection from STDS, especially HIV is a real concern. All these are instances of how mubobobo is adapting itself to changing circumstances and indeed even utilizing them to increase its relevance and popularity in African society.

Reference:

  1. Greener Joural of Social Sciences - Experiencing Sex viathe ‘Blue Tooth’: Phenomenological Reflections on the Nature, Use and Impact of Mubobobo in Zimbabwe[.pdf]
     
  2. The Morning Starr - Telepathic rapist magically removes woman’s knickers