Losing your skirt

POSTED ON 2011-04-05
  by Ian Fallis

When Fatu’s clothes were stolen, it was a matter of life and death.

The Balanta woman was quite upset as she related the story of a recent fishing trip with some other ladies to missionary Marion Jensen.

“Since they had to walk through mud to get to their fishing spot, they all stripped down a short distance away from their destination, leaving their wrap-around skirts, shirts and shoes in a pile together,” Marion wrote.

When they returned, Fatu’s shirt and wrap were missing. Nobody else was missing anything. Fatu told Marion she was especially concerned because she had been wearing the same outfit for three days. That statement was a bit confusing, and what followed increased Marion’s curiosity.

Fatu told Marion that when she got back to the village, she told her father and he rushed out to see if he could find her skirt and shirt.

So Marion asked why Fatu and her father were so concerned.

“Well,” Fatu said, “there are sorcerers who want to harm people.  If they can get articles of clothing with a lot of sweat in them, they have greater power to do harm.” 

Her family went to diviners to find out why the clothes were stolen, and they were told that someone is trying to kill Fatu. And it was someone in her own household who has been looking for an opportunity for more than a year.

Because Fatu and her family take this very seriously, they took steps to protect her from sorcery, and intend to be vigilant for future attempts on her life.

“Can you imagine, living each day with that type of stress hanging over you?” wrote Marion and her husband, Hans. “As we live here, we are beginning to understand and appreciate what freedom  in Christ means.”

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