Cultural Responses to Weather Related Disasters

0
50

Fredrick Mugira
September 14, 2015

Usually when someone dies in some parts of Uganda during the rainy season, mourners think of several things: the cause of death; burial place; mourners’ food and also rainmakers. Yes, rainmakers because their services are needed to make sure rain does not disrupt burial services.

And their services seem to work. They artificially induce rain. Rainmakers are common in several developing countries. But what is confusing is how they exactly induce rain.

One of such rainmakers is Betungura of Katookye, Kagango in Sheema district. He says he is hired to stop rain from disrupting burial services; parties; musical concerts and several other functions.

To stop rain from disrupting burial services, Betungura, who is usually paid for his services inform of meat, money or local brew, says he usually wraps a piece of cloth from one of the decease’s clothes around a mirror. He positions such a mirror on the roof of the house facing up.

This way, I control the heavens from releasing rain. I mention the name of the deceased and say see sunshine like you have been.”

But Betungura is worried. He says such traditions are slowly dying out because the young generation is not interested in them.

“Who will pass on these traditions and memories to future generations?”

Betungura, who has trained more than 10 people to induce rain, believes that abandonment of such cultural practices related to inducing rain is leading to the current weather related disasters.

“Our grandfathers used to control hailstorms, floods, thunderstorms. But who does it now? We are few. Sometimes we are overstretched.”

Climate-related natural disasters including floods, storms and heat waves have steadily increased across the globe over the past 40 years. Photo by Muchunguzi Emmy
Climate-related natural disasters including floods, storms and heat waves have steadily increased across the globe over the past 40 years. Photo by Muchunguzi Emmy

But Mujuni Kyamadidi, the Member of Parliament Rwampara County in Mbarara district says this is not true and misleading.

“I do not believe in rainmakers. Increased droughts hailstorms, floods and thunderstorms are effects of climate change as a result of global warming but not superstition.”

Likewise, Uganda’s water and environment minister, Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu warns against attributing effects of climate change to superstition.

There are areas which you need scientific explanations instead of depending on these wizards.”

Most climate scientists agree that the current changes in climate across the globe are due to increased amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and hotter temperatures on Earth.

This story was produced under the aegis of the CSE Media Fellowships Programme.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here