Thomas Heathfield was a well-paid banking consultant with a promising career in Maidenhead, England, but gave it up this year to move to South Africa and endure rigorous training as a “sangoma” (“witch doctor”).
After five months of studying siSwati language, sleeping in the bush, hunting for animal parts, vomiting up goats’ blood and learning native dances, Heathfield, 32, was given a new name, Gogo Mndawe, and is now qualified to read bones and prescribe herbal cures (among the skills expected of sangomas by the roughly 50 percent of South Africa’s population that reveres them).
He admitted concern about his acceptance as a white man calling out African spirits, “but when the people see me dance, perhaps those questions go away.”
on red tape
In November, 2005, in Murfreesboro, Tenn., U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs employees Joseph Haymond and Natalie Coker were charged with taking kickbacks on the purchase of 100,000 rolls of red tape — that is, red security tape used on packages of VA medications.
Who says we don’t
reinvent the wheel?
According to a November, 2005 Washington Post profile of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the agency has, since 1790, granted about 30,000 patents to people who have submitted unique designs to improve upon, if not reinvent — wheels.
(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 18737, Tampa Fla. 33679 or go to www.newsoftheweird.com.)