Today as I so happened to be torching a plant with some pals, I was enlightened as to the reasons why some cultures have very weird happenings and almost pointless rituals.
The subject of choice fell on the night runners of western kenya. So the lore generally goes that there are these random guys who conduct regular business during the day but come night time, they take off all their clothes, smear themselves with slimy stuff and proceed to run around naked all night. Yeah. I know. Hilariously rediculous. All this behaviour is somehow linked to witchcraft, evil spirits, death and misery.
On the other hand, there is the village witch doctor who uncannily knows all your secrets, plans and just about every detail of your life. As though he was watching you. He knows who is sleeping with who, who killed who, and why you are not growing rich (coz you blow all your cash on women and booze). All this from shaking a gourd with 5 random stones and bones in it and studying the pattern they form when spewed on the ground. You really cant make this stuff up. He is just like the Echidna from Legend Of the Guardians
The obvious connection is so glaringly obvious it is laughable. The naked night runners are obviously intelligence agents sent out into the village to gather all the juicy goss that is only generated/talked about in the darkness in peoples home just when they think no-one is listening. The nudity, legend and slimy skin is an effective deterrent for anyone who would want to capture one and torture him into saying what his actual job was. This is the local version of the CIA. The most informed person in a whole African village is the Chief witch doctor. No wonder he/she is/was the chief adviser to the King/Chief.
Same strategy was employed by the colonialists when they set-up shop here. Seeing as learning the ‘savages’ language and customs would take a little longer than forever, how bout introduce a new one with a shiny new messiah and promise fire and brimstone for those who reject it? Oooh and make confession to the priest every week mandatory. So here we get villagers that routinely go to the local priest and spew their guts about all the horrible things they have been up to. Intelligence gathering. Its all it is.