Night dancing, generally associated with cannibalism is a form of possession where victims are possessed by an irrational spirit that makes them discard their clothes to go jogging if I may put it lightly. To the night dancer, you either do it willingly and with glee, making deliberate choice of your nightly circuit, developing a pattern of execution on how, where and for how long you will keep running around. Or, you get totally crazed and possessed against your will and you find yourself doing stuff against your will.
Others perfect the art and use the possession to haunt the neighborhood by thumping on closed doors, smearing faecal material on the doors and doorways and rubbing their backside against the walls of buildings.
Others go for agricultural plantations to include Matoke, cassava, fields of potatoes, beans and the like, allegedly to jinx the yields so that they are poor. Others still prefer to go out early and scare the lonely wayfarer into a run of their lives, chasing them with no particular purpose but to scare the wits out of them.
Stories have been told of people who after such a chase lose all power of speech, and need to be given specific herbal treatment including mushroom soup to help them regain their senses.
The story has it that if you catch a night dancer at it and you manage to get close enough, and hit any part of his body with a reed of elephant grass (Olumuli) .They would get stuck in one place until they can be found the following morning. Others talk of cassava stems or the Midriff of a Banana Leaf (Omuzingonyo)
Others still go to practitioners of the (so called) dark arts and they gt specific portions of making night dancers lose their bearings and they get caught the next morning trying to find their way back.
In Buganda, Kyaggwe is largely believed to be the home of night dancing, and the Butiko Clan is claimed to have specific rituals bordering on the art of night dancing. The Butiko Can is responsible for the Naked-Ritual dance of the Kabaka’s court known as Amaggunju. I have heard similar stories said of night dancing in areas of Bunyaruguru in western Uganda.
Night dancing of a cannibalistic nature is more reported in Buluuli county where, we were warned never to find ourselves anywhere in the cannibal areas of the place by evening because they would not wait for night fall before pouncing on you.
Night dancing of a cannibalism kind is associated with specific powers of raising the dead, giving them a temporary life and walking them back to the cannibal-night dancers home before they can be dismembered for dinner.
It is also claimed that some people get the night dancing craze into their system through association with people so afflicted. It is said that they will do a form of acupuncture… only that this time its with razor blades to make pathways into your blood stream where herbs are rubbed to make one get possessed. (Okusala Ebitambo) as it is commonly referenced is one reason why children are prohibited from getting too close and personal with neighbours, whose ways have not been clearly studied and understood.
Night dancing is a habit that can be kicked, a disease that has a cure and can be cured. Instead of ostracizing its victims, greater research needs to go into understanding the problem and finding medical and spiritual approaches that can free the victims from the bondage of such a backward and anti-social culture.
Am I beginning to sound like one? Sorry, Neddira Ffumbe and it does not happen to members of my clan. This information is not generally researched, I have been so afraid of them for a long time, that I started looking into who and what exactly they are.
Hajji Aziz Ssalongo Senoga
UAH forumist in Kampala