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COBRA MAGIC Botswana’s traditional doctor hailed for Palesa’s Miss World magic


Palesa Molefe’s Basarwa handlers are now in demand. Before she entered the Miss Botswana pageant, she shared on social media pictures and videos of herself with some bushman of the Zu/’Hoasi tribe usually found in the Makgadikgadi area, who put a black scorpion in his mouth in what is said to be the bushmen’s way of calming the repulsive creatures.

Nobody really made a fuss of the post at the time. The Miss World-Botswana has also been seen with other Basarwa women who put traditionally crafted necklaces around her neck, with other  traditional ware such as wrist laces placed on her arms. Again nobody thought much about it.

It is only now that Palesa is seen to be doing well at the Miss World competition that everybody now suspects her success has everything to do with her ‘consulting’ with those Basarwa elders.

Now the people of Botswana have flooded social media asking to be directed to those elders. It is the feeling of the people that perhaps, just perhaps, their things will also go well should they be touched and anointed by that old man and women.

The old man who placed the scorpion in his mouth has  been identified as Cobra, said to be found around Gweta in Botswana. Regarded as one of the best bush guides in Botswana, he is said to be easy to find around Jack’s Camp or Thakadu Bush Camp. Some say he is actually a traditional doctor, known to have a spiritual connection with nature and creatures in his environment. It was his video with Palesa, that suddenly got the people talking and agreeing that he must have the powers and charms to bring them luck as well.

Several observers wrote on facebook that after being awed by Palesa’s enchanting performance leading to the grand finale of the Miss World this coming week, they felt compelled to believe that the world’s inexplicable attachment to the Botswana 22-year-old  has everything to do with her visiting the bushmen prior to her competition. Now Cobra has been trending on social media across Botswana, with many saying they would like to pay him a visit, beleveing he would help turn their fortunes around.

In June this year, a famous traveller, historian and photographer Jay Roode wrote about him in his blog, saying:

“I knew visiting the Kalahari Bushmen would always throw up some surprises. Fire was always on the cards, but it was the hunt for the small things that was particularly interesting.

As we wandered through the grasslands and thorn tree thickets with the legendary Zu/’hoasi Bushman named Cobra as our guide; he pointed out small matchbox size holes on the harder parts of the ground, that indicated the presence of burrowing scorpions.

Cobra used a foot-long piece of reed that he used to ascertain the direction of the tunnel and follow the burrow to where the scorpion lay, it then  took about five minutes to dig the angry little scorpion out of its tunnel and bring out into the light.

Much to my surprise, the way you calm its temper Cobra explained, is to put the scorpion in your mouth and sooth it with your tongue which made it docile and curiously relaxed and easy to handle.”

This picture below was taken by Roode, who had gone on the search for the scorpion with Cobra.

Cobra as pictured by traveller, historian and photographer Jay Roode

While with Palesa, Cobra also demonstrated his calming effect on the scorpion. And while many are jokingly or seriously convinced it is the man’s charms behind Palesa’s success, the beauty queen’s mother Mercy Molefe has a different tale to say. The woman resident in Rasesa village believes that instead, all should be credited to the works of God. Palesa’s mother is a staunch Christian who believes that God is the one guiding her daughter in all this.

Palesa herself has described the mother as the sunlight in every storm. “I was raised by a fighter, a woman who not only fought for herself, but for everyone around her. She sees the good in everyone, the sunlight in every storm. And she has heavily influenced who I am today,” Palesa said of her mother while at the pageant. The mother says she expects Palesa to shock every one.


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