A woman accused of bringing ‘major trouble’ to her village by ‘breaking and destroying’ a community god is now the focus of an informal nation-wide manhunt.
An ad placed by the Upendo Ibrahim Mshiu’s family in Tanzanian print media this week says she ‘escaped their village’ in Kilimanjaro region in May 2011 after breaking their god.
It’s not clear if Mshiu physically damaged anything.
The parents, Ibrahim Elisonguo Mshiu and Scolastica Francis Kibomola have offered anyone a ‘lucrative prize’ for the capture and return of their daughter and even opened a police file on the matter in 2014.
The advertisement says they think Mshiu left Modonyi village for Dar es Salaam, but concede she may be anywhere.
Legal and Human Rights Centre executive director Helen Kijo-Bisimba says she’s unsure on what grounds the parents are really searching for their daughter.
“These are people’s beliefs and traditions which are sometimes difficult to understand. In regards to our laws though, the only grounds would be if they can prove that this lady had either hurt someone, caused damage to properties or caused some kind of unrest in the community,” says Kijo-Bisimba.
But merely saying ‘we haven’t had enough coffee harvest this year because of that god’s breakage’ is not sufficient evidence, says Kijo-Bisimba.
“Someone else would say they didn’t have enough harvest due to insufficient rain.”
Though many rituals have disappeared in the area as a result of over a century of Christian missionary work, some traditional beliefs are still commonly held.
Dar Post’s calls to the family went unanswered.