“I Am Not A Witch” IA reflection #2

Emma Brunst

IA Reflection #2

On Wednesday, October 24th, several of my fellow International Affairs students and I were able to comprehend societal norms in Zambia through the eyes of Shula in the movie “I Am Not A Witch.” About 8 people from my floor were able to fulfill our academic requirement while bonding and learning about a true aspect of life in Zambia at the Gateway Film Center. In the movie, Shula, an alienated and lost little girl, is accused of witchcraft which is unusual for how young she is. Members of her community say strange things have been occurring ever since Shula appeared in their small village. She was forced to carry around a spool of string to keep her from flying away. At first, she was scolded for it, but she soon could use her “witchcraft” to determine who stole, lied, cheated, etc. out of a group of people. She was taken under the wing of Mr. Banda, a government official, to use her powers to decide when it is going to rain. The entire story follows Shula and her struggle from being avoided to being praised for her “gift.” At the end of the movie, Shula eventually freed herself from the bounds of the societal norm and her supposed witchcraft by cutting the string herself. During Shula’s funeral, the rain finally came to the village. The last and final scene of the movie captured the empty spools of string of all the other accused witches, showing all of them are finally free.

Although this may seem to be just a movie, it is a telling story based on true events of the societal norms and typical life in Zambia, East Africa. This activity did not change any perspectives I had because I was unaware of these circumstances to being with. Following the movie, Angie & I were extremely curious as if this is was based on a true story of circumstances for the people in Zambia. We researched the topic and some information came up that caused us to believe this is a real part in the life of Zambia. I have only previously learned about witchcraft in the United States in the late 1800s and didn’t realize it this was a part of everyday life in modern Zambia. Although others were unaware of the current existence of supposed witchcraft, it still made me feel somewhat uncultured as this is a huge part of life in Zambia. This relates to the topic of International Affairs because this is common part of their culture that I was previously unaware of. This has not related to any specific, previous coursework, but it is still extremely relevant to the countries experiencing it and other people understanding this phenomenon that is occurring. Because of this eye-opening experience, I am going to look more into the topic. In addition to witchcraft in Zambia, I am also interested in and going to research taboo occurrences that are currently going on in a specific country. There include but are not limited to: eating a specific way, dressing with a certain set of clothing, speaking to someone a certain way, etc. Although these may be particular to one country, it can still alter the way they live their lives and how it affects others. Because I have watched the movie “I Am Not A Witch,” I am more aware of aspects of a certain culture and how it affect theirs lives compared to my own!

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