They pointed out jinn settlements just below the snow-line on the mountain slopes. Inside, over plates of mutton and grey rice, tea, snuff and Korean cigarettes, they told the story of how the cook had been possessed by a jinn the week before. He was a devout man, they said, a non-smoker and illiterate. “He fell ill. When he recovered, he found he could speak and write in many languages. The jinn that was in him was well-travelled but also pushy. It demanded a cigarette, then another, and then it became impatient and swallowed lighted cigarettes whole.”
In Somalia, the port of Bossaso is famous for its sorcerers. Some of its ruling class claim to have intermarried with jinn long ago. On a recent visit your correspondent was taken to a metal shed at the edge of a slum where jinn were supposed to be banished from taking human form. The air inside the shed was thick with frankincense. There was a man cloaked in red cloth kneeling on the ground. A jinn was in him, a sorceress running the ceremony said, and indeed the man wore an eerie expression, as though a part of him was obscured. Young men jumped up and down around him, chanting and beating drums. The gunmen accompanying your correspondent were too scared to step into the shed. Later, walking away from the shed in hot sunshine, one of the gunmen insisted that he could see a jinn scavenging for bones in the dirt. There did not appear to be anything there.