The Unseen II

Whenever I start thinking that nothing blogworthy is happening at the hyena place, something blogworthy inevitably occurs. Last night was just such a night. All the usual hyenas were there and being slightly more aggressive with each other than usual but not remarkably so. Tukwondilli scared the guff out of an Ethiopian tourist who was already nervous so that when the slightly insane male hyena ran straight at him to get to a place, safe from aggressive females, the tourist fell sprawling on the ground in his desperate effort to get away. Hilarious but not worth writing about at length. What was remarkable last night was the attendance at the feeding place of a family from Hargeysa in Somaliland. There was a middle aged couple and their teenage daughter and they were accompanied by an old woman who was apparently a healer. It turned out that they were on their way to Dire Dawa 50kms further on from Harar to find treatment for their daughter who was disturbed. It wasn’t very obvious to me that the daughter was disturbed she seemed pretty normal, but for some reason the family believed she was possessed by a jinni. Maybe she’d been acting strangely back in Hargeysa. The girl stood near the fence and was nervous of the hyenas but not especially so and nowhere near as much as the man who had just entertained everyone with his unabashed panic. Yusuf called to the girl to come and feed and she eventually did so, holding the stick with the meat on it which Hadha Kamar gratefully took and ate. Then the girl finished and went over to her parents and the family left.
Diagnosis: The girl did not have a jinni. If she was possessed she would have cried out and been very afraid of the hyenas, which she wasn’t, so the family will have to look elsewhere for the cause of their daughter’s problems. This is the third such attempt at exorcism by hyena that I have seen since I came to Harar. The first one was a small Somali boy who was sent with his family by a sheikh in Djibouti. On that occasion, the boy was very afraid and did cry out and was apparently cured. The second was a young woman who was crying and whimpering while her family physically forced her to feed the hyenas. In that case the family wasn’t forceful enough and, while the woman cringed and sobbed, gave up on the exorcism for the night and reassured her that they would try again the following night. At the time I didn’t know that they were performing an exorcism so it looked to me like a family of tourists going to great lengths to ensure that their daughter had the full Harar experience. But as far as exorcisms go, hyena-based ones are pretty harmless and no-one gets hurt apart from the unfortunate ox or camel, whose meat is used in the feeding. And of course the jinni cops a beating but we don’t see that bit.

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