Lightning Myths versus Science Facts: Traditional Beliefs on Thunderstorm among Rwandans

  • Kizito Ndihokubwayo
  • Phéneas Nkundabakura
Keywords: thunderstorm, lightning myths, traditional beliefs, a witch doctor


The paper aimed at revealing lightning myths and traditional beliefs among Rwandans. It provides an overview of their feelings, opinions, and worries as well as facts on thunderstorms using summative-written text and focus-group discussion where about 315 people participated in this research. The conception of the thunder in Rwandan culture was found different from the one we learn from Physics class. For instance, in this study, we found that more traditional beliefs are found in old and non-educated people. Even though some traces are found in intellectuals, however, they are overcome as they become more educated. Though it is believed that witch doctors can traditionally use the term 'thunder' attributed in their activities as the same lightning phenomenon, this occurs in unplanned time and situation, striking their so-called “own enemies”. Overcoming the worries related to traditional beliefs using scientific researchers’ testimonies and safety were also discussed. For instance, though none can be totally safe from a lightning hit, prevention strategies can lessen risks. Thus, avoidance of  lightning damage should be an individual duty and everyone should know daily local weather predictions and harmful consequences.

Key words: thunderstorm, lightning myths, traditional beliefs, a witch doctor


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2227-5452
print ISSN: 2225-8590