Chuma Ulete as a Popularized Witchcraft Discourse in Small Businesses

Jacqueline Halima Mgumia


This article investigates a particular discourse of witchcraft in Tanzania famously known as Chuma Ulete. Perceived as a practice that involves leaking or stealing wealth mysteriously, it has increasingly become popularized in both mainstream and social media within the context of a post-socialist neo-liberal economy. In this article it is conceptualized as the witchcraft of the poor as, purportedly, it is generally used to magically steal money from small businesses. Although the concept has received little attention in the sociological and anthropological literature, it could provide an explanation for some instances of marginal gains in the market economy, and how people make sense of it. The article argues that they do so through invoking, simultaneously or sequentially, religious, traditional, business, and poverty discourses. The concept has also been extended to express exploitation in the market economy, where issues of services and romantic relationships are concerned. As such, the article brings to light its definition, characteristics, and how people deal with it.

Keywords: witchcraft, business, youth, money, entrepreneurship

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