Encountering Eloyi

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© Werbner
56 minutes / Colour / 2008
Directed by
Richard Werbner

Anthropologist

Country of production United Kingdom

Series The Well-Being Quest in Botswana

Of all the faith-healing churches in Botswana, Eloyi is the most controversial. Sensational stories in newspapers and on television have made Eloyi notorious for so-called witch-busting and for exorcising demons. Known as tokoloshi, they appear like a nightmare image of an overwhelming consumer society. While attacking traditional ritual as Satan’s work, Eloyi brings back, in a Christian or even more remarkably Old Testament guise, many old Tswana practices. Rarely in the ritual of other churches is empathy for others’ and their mortal frailty so powerfully realised as in this Apostolic church during a séance. The film shows the impact of such empathy and the demonic in the lives of a childless couple, Martha and Njebe, originally from the countryside and now settled in Botswana’s capital city. After a long quest for healing by traditional doctors and gynaecological treatment by Western hospitals, Martha chooses to seek help from Eloyi. Her choice widens the gulf between her own faith and her husband Njebe’s scepticism. It also involves her in tensions between Eloyi’s city branch and its village headquarters, between the church’s city bishop and his father, the archbishop.

Language and subtitles Tswapong and English with English Subtitles

Region Southern Africa

Country Botswana

Keywords Health / Health care / Healing Ritual Religion / Belief / Faith Reproduction (biology)