There is a custom in the villages here that a newborn baby is not taken outside the house/hut for the first 3-4 weeks. This is especially striking when you learn that the house is generally for sleeping only. Most living- eating, bathing, chatting, etc.- is done outside.
I learned this custom last year when a gal in Igekemaja had her baby.
Two days ago I learned the meaning behind this custom. The topic came up while driving out to TX on Wednesday with Pastor Mussa and his wife Naomi. I was asking them all about the service on Sunday. Who had come and who hadn't. I was surprised to learn a young mother had come with her brand new baby, 1 1/2 wks old!
"Really? I thought babies weren't taken out of the house for the first month or so?" I asked.
Mussa's answer: "No, not for those who are Christians." This really intrigued me. He went on, "Why, even Jesus was taken to the temple when he was 8 days old."
Well, yes that's true, but how does that apply, ahhh... things started to get clear... "So, you mean for those who don't trust in God there's rumors and fears of witchcraft, so they hide their babies for awhile?"
"Oh, yes," he answered.
He didn't explain further, and sometimes I don't know how offensive I'm being with all my questions. Maybe someday I'll learn more about what specifically people fear for their infants. The infant mortality rate is extremely high; that must have something to do with it. I was reminded again just how pervasive animism is in the hearts and minds of all those around me, and just how much fear people are under.
...And don't you just love Mussa's biblical answer to that specific issue? I would never have thought Jesus' circumcision was an argument against fear of evil spirits and witchcraft!!
When Christ makes you free, you shall be free indeed!