Malawi is suffering from periods of drought because the village chiefs no longer make sacrifices to the ‘rainmaker’.
That’s the belief of some of the villagers who live in the community at Mbenje, one of the most vulnerable areas in the south of the country.
Macloud Zandi Wandila, 59, treasurer of the village irrigation scheme, also blames the fact that trees in the area have been cut down and depleted.
He added: “We had a stable rain pattern and could cultivate and harvest because we had enough rainfall.
‘‘But as you can see there are no trees - this land is now bare.”
Macloud believes that the blame for climate change lies with a change in farming practices but also a loss of culture and their forefathers’ practises.
He added: “The rainmaker is believed to be a spirit that the people need to appease. Because the chiefs have stopped providing the sacrifices that is why there is no rain. We used to get flour and give it to the gods and even take a dollar cent with clay pots to pray to the rainmaker. The chiefs stopped doing this a while ago because these days people are more into Christianity than what was happening before.”
He said that to bring back the rain would involve a combination of planting trees and also restoring the lost glory of practising a sacrifice to the rainmaker.
This view was shared by Juda Leso who agreed that the people had lost their forefathers’ culture.
He added: “Before we had been protected but now we are no longer. When there was a forest it was owned by the local chief and no one was allowed to cut down the trees. The law said it was a protected forest and there were no disastrous rainfalls.
“We used to fetch water and we believe that if you go and get water from the river it would appease the rainmaker. We used to take the water and brew from it and it was offered as a sacrifice.
“This was a practice that stopped around 15 years ago. If all the chiefs could agree to pray to the gods then the climate would be restored. Right now no one knows when it is going to rain. The last time it rained was in January,” added Juda.