A couple days after we got back from Africa, I had a conversation with a friend about the new Harry Potter movie. We were getting ready to see it and I asked her if it was good. Of course, she said yes and went on to talk about how the movie is about the underground witch community. Without thinking, I said, "Oh yeah, we dealt with some of that in Africa. It'll be interesting to see another perspective to it."
As soon as the comment left my mouth I realized how ridiculous I must of sounded. I had just correlated my life to one of the most fantastic pieces of FICTIONAL literature. The inner Alyssa shrunk up inside in complete embarrassment. Did I really just make a comment about dealing with witches to my dear American friend? Yes. Yes, I did.
But, as embarrassed as I was, I had been telling the truth. While in Africa, we did deal with witchcraft. And, unfortunately, it wasn't the Harry Potter kind of witchcraft either. No, what we were dealing with was something much worse, much more dangerous and much more real.
I grew up in a half Christian half Atheist/Agonist/Buddhist/Hindu home (the second religion changed often). So things of the spiritual nature where common and often at war in my house. Luckily, my mom gave me a great Spiritually 101 lesson when I was young so nothing was too shocking.
It was the second Saturday and we had a huge children's party planned (probably not the setting you were expecting for this kind of scenario). We had over one hundred kids at this party. The tiny church was literally packed out. Sebastian and I walked through a sea of brown little faces. The kids were clapping, cheering, and looking at us in awe and disbelief as we moved our way to the front of the room. We spent the day watching performances, giving gifts, and eating food with a lot of children (which my dad had given us money to help pay for, thank you Dad).
At the end of the party, Pastor Alex was wrapping things up. Before we knew it, he started preaching. Let me tell you, when African pastors preach, it is no joke. If you fall asleep in American services (I've been guilty of that), go to an African service. There's more adrenaline there than at a concert.
As he's preaching and he calls for an alter call. About twenty people of all ages and sizes come up to accept the Lord. When Pastor Alex started praying, I noticed one young lady put a hand to her head. She was 19, a little heavy set, very sweet and a bit shy, but I didn't know this at the time. All I knew was that one second she was putting her head on her head and the next she was falling over on top of a little girl. I remember locking eyes with this tiny girl holding her present as this young woman fell on top of her. I didn't know what to do because the next second, the young lady rolled on top of the little girl and rolled supernaturally fast (hands above head) right up to my and Sebastian's feet. She rolled away and all four of the pastors ran swiftly to her.
She tried to run away and clawed at them like there was no tomorrow, but in a matter of time, all four pastors had pinned her to the ground. She started screamed and crying at the top of her lungs as she fought to get away as hard as she could. The pastors fought to keep this one girl pinned to the ground as they started yelling and praying in her face. Pastor Alex continued preaching.
I don't know how long it lasted, but it felt like a good thirty minutes. FOUR pastors to wrestle down one screaming girl.
It still gives me chills to think about it and I can't help but find myself near tears. Eventually, the demon left. The girl sat up in shock. She was crying and looked a little embarrassed. She started dusting herself off and sat in a corner recollecting herself and trying to fix her hair. She looked a mess, but the truth was a chronic headache she had had for years was gone. We went up and introduced ourselves and left shortly after that.
As we drove back, I asked Pastor Fred about it. He shared with me that satanic worship was very common in the area. There was actually a shrine right down the street from where we were staying. It was common for people to literally sell their souls to the devil. He proceeded to tell me about the "night dancers". As romantic as their title sounds, they're actually quiet horrifying. Night dancers are people who have allowed themselves to become demon possessed. At night, they go out and eat the carcasses of human bodies. According to Pastor Fred, they are common in his neighborhood and by the church (both were walking distance from where we were staying). Apparently, that area and some others are places that you don't want to be walking in at night, for obvious reasons.
And that was only one of the many different kinds of demon possessed results. Other people become violent. Some don't get demon possessed but used voodoo to ruin others. If you get on a hit list like that, there's literally no way to protect yourself. A lawyer was ruined because someone used voodoo on him. He lost his mind and began saying awful things about his family tearing them apart.
That night I didn't sleep much. I was fascinated by the "night dancer" concept and decided it was definitely going in my upcoming novel, Nankunda. Naturally the author in me was fascinated. Yet the person in me was stunned. I stayed up listening to a screeching bat that must have been on the roof and thought about how many night dancers might be out there that night. Luckily, my faithful protector and husband was lying in bed right next to me, not sleeping also. I think the event had struck a chord in both of us differently, but just as hard.
African Alter Call. At the end the young lady falls and starts screaming. After that Sebastian and I were shocked and stopped recording.