It is not witchcraft!

30 Aug

If you’ve read the About page on this blog, then you know that I am African. My son’s name should help to demonstrate just how much of a connection I have with home. This open acknowledgement and awareness that I have about who I am and where I come from doesn’t always allow the decisions I make comfortable to contend with. I have to consider my family, both immediate and extended. How do my decisions affect others’ views of me and my family? Really, I’d be ok if the backlash was only toward me but, in most cases its not. Every Mugala or DaCosta out there might be looked at differently all because of my decision. It’s a heavy load and one that is sometimes hard to juxtapose between two very different worlds.

Luckily, I was raised in the Western world and therefore, a product of two distinct cultures. I have the liberty to take from each one the best practices and customs. Some actions that are not understood by my own or other Africans can just be chucked up to my Americanness. I’m fine with that.

I am sure sharing something so personal on such a public forum is one of those things that has left some of my family scratching their heads. But it’s not just for me, it’s for you.

The decision to start this blog weighed on my mind for a few months before I finally decided to get on with it. The main impetus being how many women from my own community I could reach and make aware of this thing called Preeclampsia. I have heard so many stories from women in this community about their hypertensive problems during pregnancy that I am convinced (like many other illnesses) we are disproportionately more affected than our counterparts belonging to other races. Of course, there can be many explanations (social economic status, access, education and awareness, racism, etc.) for this but without any references; it is hard to say for sure.

I work in public health so this seems like a natural course of events for me. Something happened; I wasn’t aware; now that I know; I want to share and make others aware. When one is aware, she can make better decisions about her health.

I find it stunting that African women do not share such vital information as what could happen to complicate a pregnancy and, in some cases may result in death. We are raised to keep matters of the family to ourselves and not call attention to ourselves by highlighting our misfortunes. But what about when these misfortunes could mean a cousin, sister or another family, doesn’t have to suffer your same fate. What do I gain by keeping the cause of the loss of my son to myself?

It isn’t witchcraft. I know there are many who probably think this but, it isn’t. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. At least I think I’m a good person. The tens of thousands I have read about since losing my son, they couldn’t all have been bad people could they? The unthinkable happened to them too. And you know what? They aren’t all African, so can we stop with the taboo over sharing vital information?

No matter which of your enemies you don’t let see you pregnant or see you happy, it is no indication that your pregnancy will not end in tragedy. Far more likely, is the fact that in spite of your enemy seeing you happy, good things still continue to happen to you. So live your life without fearing the ill intentions of another human being. They are just human! The best thing you can do for yourself is be as aware as possible and take your health and the health of your unborn child into your own hands because doctors are not foolproof.

We are doing a much bigger disservice to our daughters, nieces, cousins, etc., when we shield them for these lifesaving experiences which should help shape their futures as pregnant women and then mothers. After all, we are always supposed to learn from our experiences. What good is the lesson if you cannot/will not pass it on?

We are in the year 2013. There has been much advancement in medicine and still some being researched now. We do not have to suffer from the same infirmities our sisters suffered 100 years ago. We should be building upon all these experiences and lessons so that our daughters know how to respond. So they don’t suffer the same traumatic experiences.

I cannot just be silent. I must share. My experience touches on a wide range of subjects related to pregnancy and postpartum that I know we African women don’t and won’t talk about but, someone has to start. It is for the good of our community.


If you have questions about what preeclampsia is, visit the Preeclampsia Foundation for more information.


6 Responses to “It is not witchcraft!”

  1. Mary Nachamba August 30, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

    So true. It starts with awareness

  2. Doreen August 30, 2013 at 4:59 pm #


    • Nazevyanga Membe August 30, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

      Yes it does…besides sharing helps you see that you are not alone. In Zambia we are not given to most of the sicknesses that are found here in the USA. See when we get pregnant there we crave things such as doti (iloba) or ice. That dear sister is not a coincidence. That is God’s very own intervention. Our soil is very rich and we get all the minerals that the growing baby needs from it without knowing. If you look at studies and conditions in pregnant women, you will find that even the age factor that they worry about here is not a big deal there. Third world country that we are, we are quite shielded from a lot of it.

      Now witchcraft, while it exits (I know this from experience) has nothing to do with pre-eclempsia. People might want to blame witchcraft but no it’s just like you said. It’s a condition the we know very little about and loss is loss no matter how you look at it. I can’t say you will get over it because you will never get over it, but God will give you the grace to live with it and grow from it and He alone can give you the strength that you need to come back from this. I can’t not relate but my pain comes from loving you little one, you are always in my prayers. You hang tight and as you grow you will be a pillar to those who will have gone through the same thing and don’t know how to come back from it.

      If I know you darling girl, you will always give a helping hand to anyone who will need your help. You are a great inspiration and I pray the Lord to give you more and more and bless you beyond your expectations. Hang tight little sis.

      Speak louder, I am with you.

      • elledacosta August 31, 2013 at 9:29 am #

        Thank you Nazy! I am truly blessed to have such loving family.
        You are so right about our conditions here vs. where we come from. I often wonder about the strict guidelines we are given while pregnant here and then ask myself how necessary it all is when village women do it all without the 20 vitamins and 5 ounces of fish per week. Don’t get me wrong, I follow it, but it’s probably because I don’t have ready access to some very natural foods. I will say though, that taking iron cured my desire to chew ice or smell earthy things ;).

        Per witchcraft, I only make mention because I know as a community someone’s first thought was just that. I’d just like to help change that mindset. There’s no doubt there are some supernatural things that occur but certain things have real explanations.

  3. Natasha August 31, 2013 at 5:45 am #

    You inspire me so much Elizabeth!!! U are one in a million strong woman we need, to change our Africa and brake the silence.

    • elledacosta August 31, 2013 at 9:30 am #

      Thank you Natasha, I know you’re doing your part as well.

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