Folk Belief – Fort Portal, Uganda

Avoiding curses

“Never ever pick up any money from the ground while walking down any road. If you see money on the ground, either walk around it, or turn around and use another route.”

I first heard this from his deceased great grandmother who was about 84 years at the time.   She told me that such money (that thrown on the road) possessed evil curses and spirits. She said that people possessed with evil spirits would go to witches. Those witches would trap all the evil spirits in a coin or a paper currency and order the patients to throw the money on a fairly busy path. That if a person came across and picked that money, he in turn would become possessed by the evil spirits. Personally, while living in Fort Portal, I never saw anyone attacked by evil spirits carried in money. Nevertheless, I never picked up any money since I heard that advice from my grandmother. Today, however, I can pickup money from anywhere in USA because their spirits won’t attack me.


Personally, I would never walk away from money because I do not believe in superstitions. I think it is only a psychological effect that anyone would believe that money on the ground has some kind of evil spirits in it. I think Gilbert believes in this advice because he thinks, “older is wiser.” I think it is almost customary for human beings to romanticize older ideas. Had that advice been to Gilbert by some one his own age, I do not think he would have taken it that serious. He only took it serious because it was advice from an eighty-four year old woman.

On the other hand, I think Gilbert believes in evil spirits because he was brought up to do so. That is the power or culture. Culture has such a big influence on how a human being’s mind works. Culture is so strong that it can cause two people to perceive the same thing differently. For example, if I found money on the ground, I would call it my lucky day while Gilbert would call it a nightmare. This is because we are raised in two different cultures. My culture calls it lucky and his culture calls it wicked.

Even though he did not recognize it was only psychological for him to believe in that advice, Gilbert seemed to perceive it. As he said, he can pick up money in the USA but not on his native land. Again, this shows the strength of culture and its boundaries. I say he can pick up money in the USA only because he has not been told that it possesses evil spirits. In a way, when he is in USA, his psyche switches to USA’s customs and vice versa when he goes back to this native country.