The life and times of a happy go lucky blogger in London
Melvin Burgess and the child witches of The Congo #bornto
Categories: blogging mums

Having spent an hour in a workshop with celebrated and award winning author, Melvin Burgess, I’m more than intrigued to hear about his trip to Save the Children to The Congo and his discovery there of child witches.

He writes for children, specifically teenagers and his work has sometimes courted controversy. But he’s adamant that story telling is incredibly powerful and that whenever we write, we are trying to find a story to tell.

He says that we and the cultures we belong in are all about the stories. He was confounded by the stories coming out The Congo; that children were being accused of being witches and chased out of their families. He said it was incomprehensible and explained how people became witches; they were given their witchhoods by being approached in their dreams in the ‘nightworld’ and exist in a wholly surreal and fantastic world, unlike the dayworld. In the night world, these activities are powered by human flesh and blood – rather like vampirism I suppose. He explained the construct of society and that the man is the provider for his wife, children and her family. If things went wrong, the family maybe advised there is a witch in the family and that could be a child; the child then has its night wings burned away by hot wax and all other tortures are given to get a ‘confession’. Children between the ages of seven to eleven are the most picked on and in the last ten years or so there has been an explosion in this phenomenon, 80% of street children are ‘witches’.

Symptoms of being a witch are supposedly; bedwetting, skin disease, answering back, being to stupid, being to clever.

Melvin collected folk stories when he was out there and he also told stories to the street children there; little red riding hood and the big bad wolf were the two favourites he told and he was fascinated about their universality.

His favourite story is available on his blog and Save the Children here (link to come later) told to him by a small boy on the equator; it involves letter writing monkeys and bonobos.

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