The Muthi is a magical love potion poured into perfume, cream, and oil… Virtues have been attributed to the Muthi. It has been said that it is enough to apply the love potion to one’s body, to see one’s wishes, especially those of love, granted. The potion of love can be applied daily to resolve loneliness.
This is a widespread practice in South Africa, as in the majority of countries on the black continent and even beyond.
“Muthi is working,” says one of the love charm saleswomen on the street in South Africa’s economic capital, Johannesburg. “When you use Muthi, you have to believe it, then it will work. Sometimes it doesn’t work because the person you are trying to use it for has protected themselves,” she said.
“Muthi is part of the black tradition that they can’t just leave behind. Many people still believe in Muthi,” she said.
The name Muthi comes from the Zulu Umuthi, which means tree, grass, or bush. There are several types of Muthi. The white Muthi (or Umuthi Omhlope), which has positive effects, such as healing, preventing or ending bad luck, and the black Muthi (or Umuthi Omnyama), which can bring sickness and death to others, or ill health to those who use it. Practitioners of the black Muthi are considered to be evil sorcerers and are generally rejected by society.
They say love is a powerful and wonderful thing, but what happens when you find out that your partner is casting a love spell on you and using a wizard’s Muthi to create that magic? It is a prevalent practice of women who live in a polygamous marriage and certain young girls to better capture their men.
Moreover, in South Africa, Muthi vendors run the streets. They are everywhere and adorn the streets of towns and cities, and that does not bother anyone, at least not the native population.
However, while women generally use love Muthi, others would use it to kill. In 1995, the South African government undertook to combat these ritual killings by launching investigations into some witchdoctors’ violent practices. But these investigations remained in the shadows, while the vast information campaign that was supposed to follow them never took place.
In rural areas, tribal customs and superstitions remain very strong. Quite often, people are made to ingest human organs, many children are also assaulted and sometimes killed, their executioners acting to remove an organ from them, on the order or simple indication of a sorcerer. However, these practices are not confined to South Africa. In the rest of the continent and even in England, Muthi’s sacrifices have been discovered.