High spirits

2nd March 2007 at 00:00
Closing a school for a day because of bad weather is one thing. Shutting it for more than a month because of ghosts is quite another.

Yet such is the situation at Tala high school in Kenya, which remained closed this week after reports of malicious spirits.

Problems first surfaced in January, when students claimed ghosts were getting into their dormitories and stuffing their boxes with witchcraft paraphernalia.

Teachers searched the rooms and were horrified to discover human hair, masks, herbs, bones, and drawings of people pierced with arrows and hand axes.

Priests held a ceremony and burnt the objects. But a further "haunting" on January 30 led local education officials to shut the school indefinitely for fear of a riot.

Now parents are in a stand-off with the Catholic church. They want to bring in Maji Marefu, a ghostbuster from Tanzania. But Martin Keviera, the local bishop, has opposed this and accused Mr Marefu of practising witchcraft.

Samuel Chepkole, Tala's headteacher, said he hoped to reopen the school but could not say whether the ghostbuster or the Church would be involved.

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