Mai' - - Mai'!! I.
This is coolbert:
I can remember quite well when I first read about this.
A war-related phenomenon unique to sub-Saharan Africa.
Sorcery and black magic put to use  by the forces of the Simba rebels. Dissidents/rebels/insurgents in the former Belgian Congo. The newly independent nation of the Congo was faced by an insurrection headed by a small cadre of communists, leading a band of murderous and superstitious tribesmen, fighting in a manner ONLY to be found in Africa!
Simba fighters were emboldened by the belief that live ammo, metal jacketed bullets, fired from modern assault rifles, would turn into water and not be harmful to them. Black magic, amulets, chanting, all would render the Simba warrior impervious to the "white mans'" bullets.
[let me be clear here. Bullets turning into water - - NOT figuratively - - BUT literally. Metal becoming drops of water!!]
It is not the physics of a bullet traveling through the air that mattered as much as the THE BELIEF THAT EXISTED IN THE MIND OF THE SIMBA WARRIOR THAT MATTERED!! To the Simba, bullet turning to water WAS REAL!!
"In July, 1964, a rebellion began in the former French Congo (Eastern Congo) ignited by the abuses of the newly established Congolese central government . . . Rebels were promised immunity to bullets by witch doctors. The tribesmen were told by the magic men they would be transformed into 'Simbas' (the Swahili word for lions) when entering battle . . . The national troops [Congolese] had been scared into headlong retreat by witch doctors charging with only forty Simba fighters . . . the witch doctors frantically waved palm branches as a part of their supernatural arsenal."
The Congo, especially in the easternmost province of Katanga, then as now, was of great importance to the western industrialized nations. Possessing, as it did [the Congo] of an abundance of mineral wealth. Minerals such as cobalt, rare earths such as coltan, etc. Absolutely essential to the metallurgy of advanced, industrialized societies.
It was ONLY by the intervention of foreign mercenaries and Belgian paratroopers that the Simba insurrection was quelled. Simba tribesmen fighters, much to their regret, found out very quickly that the "white mans'" bullets did not turn to water, regardless of what the sorcerers had told them.
[Simba fighters would advance headlong into battle looking straight ahead, chanting mai' - - mai' [water - - water]. I guess it has to be seen to be believed.]
The appearance of mai - - mai, however, seems to have very old roots. Sorcery and witchcraft being part and parcel of sub-Saharan culture, the bullets-to-water spectacle was first observed of course, only when the various cultures of black Africa came into contact with and engaged in warfare with the "civilized" military forces of the colonialist powers. Rifle toting soldiers of the western imperialist militaries versus spear carrying tribesmen.
Consider these various occurrences of mai - - mai:
* "In April 1819, the British Colony on the Cape, Grahamstown, was menaced by a large Xhosan army. The Xhosan prophet, Nxele, had promised the Xhosan king, the Ndlambe, the ability to turn white men's bullets to water."
* "In 1850 . . . Mlanjeni, 'the Riverman,' claimed it was necessary to cleanse the Xhosa nation and to make war on the whites. Mlanjeni promised the Xhosan warriors immunity from the white men's bullets, and sent them into battle with a twig from a plumbug bush to ward off evil (including bullets)."
* "During the summer of 1905, Germany's newly acquired colony of East Africa became the scene of revolt, using magic to defeat the white man. A spirit medium claimed to be possessed . . . The medium's name was Kinjikitile Ngwale . . . The medium gave his followers war medicine to turn German bullets into water. This powerful war medicine turned out to be water (maji in Swahili) mixed with castor oil and millet seeds. Thus the Maji-Maji rebellion was born!"
* "While World War I  erupted across Europe, in Uganda another prophet arose named Rembe. He came to give the Lugbara people divine power by the drinking of a special water . . . Rembe promised special protection for his followers who drank the 'Yakan water.' The water was to provide protection against European rifles . . . Rembe's magic could cause the guns to only fire water."
["'Yakan Water,' was laced with a hallucinogen from the daffodil species". You do have to hand it to the sorcerers. Also called "witch doctors". They DO have impressive pharmaceutical abilities. The Zulu are especially famous in this regard! When it is spear wielding tribesman against spear wielding tribesman it is not a big deal. But when it is spear against firearm, it is a big deal!! YOU GET MOWED DOWN!!!]
There are those that would suggest - - ONLY in Africa!!
Labels: Mai Mai