The Power Of Witchcraft in Africa
Africans have a Wide Range of Views of Traditional Religions

May be disturbing to some viewers - Extremely Graphic

The Power Of Witchcraft in Africa - Albinos in East Africa are falling victim to hunters who desire their skin and body parts. ITN's Martin Geissler explains.

Africans have a wide range of views of traditional religions. African Christians typically accept Christian dogma as do their counterparts in Latin America and Asia.

The term witch doctor, often attributed to Zulu inyanga, has been misconstrued to mean "a healer who uses witchcraft" rather than its original meaning of "one who diagnoses and cures maladies caused by witches".

Combining Roman Catholic beliefs and practices and traditional West African religious beliefs and practices, particularly West African Vodun, are several syncretic religions in the Americas, including Vodou, Obeah, Candomblé, Quimbanda and Santería.

In Southern African traditions, there are three classifications of somebody who uses magic.

The thakathi is usually improperly translated into English as "witch", and is a spiteful person who operates in secret to harm others.

The sangoma is a diviner, somewhere on a par with a fortune teller, and is employed in detecting illness, predicting a person's future (or advising them on which path to take), or identifying the guilty party in a crime. She also practices some degree of medicine.

The inyanga is often translated as "witch doctor" (though many Southern Africans resent this implication, as it perpetuates the mistaken belief that a "witch doctor" is in some sense a practitioner of malicious magic).

The inyanga's job is to heal illness and injury and provide customers with magical items for everyday use.

Of these three categories the thakatha is almost exclusively female, the sangoma is usually female, and the inyanga is almost exclusively male.

Child Witch Victims of Nigeria Africa

Video detailing the callous and brutal child abuse activities of many churches in Nigeria who label innocent children as witches in order to extort money from the parents by claiming to cure the children of witchcraft.

Many of the children end up dead, killed by fearful parents.

In some Central African areas, malicious magic users are believed by locals to be the source of terminal illness such as AIDS and cancer.

In such cases, various methods are used to rid the person from the bewitching spirit, occasionally Physical abuse and Psychological abuse.

Children may be accused of being witches, for example a young niece may be blamed for the illness of a relative.

Most of these cases of abuse go unreported since the members of the society that witness such abuse are too afraid of being accused of being accomplices.

It is also believed that witchcraft can be transmitted to children by feeding. Parents discourage their children from interacting with people believed to be witches.

As of 2006, between 25,000 and 50,000 children in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, had been accused of witchcraft and thrown out of their homes.

On April, 2008, Kinshasa, the police arrested 14 suspected victims (of penis snatching) and sorcerers accused of using black magic or witchcraft to steal (make disappear) or shrink men's penises to extort cash for cure, amid a wave of panic. Arrests were made in an effort to avoid bloodshed seen in Ghana a decade ago, when 12 alleged penis snatchers were beaten to death by mobs.

It was reported on May 21, 2008 that in Kenya a mob had burnt to death at least 11 people accused of witchcraft.

In Tanzania in 2008, President Kikwete publicly condemned witchdoctors for killing albinos for their body parts which are thought to bring good luck. 25 albinos have been murdered since March 2007.

In the Meatu district of Tanzania, half of all murders are “witch-killings”.

In the Nigerian states of Akwa Ibom and Cross River about 15,000 children branded as witches and most of them end up abandoned and abused on the streets.

In Gambia, about 1,000 people accused of being witches were locked in detention centers in March 2009 and forced to drink a dangerous hallucinogenic potion, human rights organization Amnesty International said.

African Albinos Killed for Body Organs

Five men in Burundi have been jailed for their part in the murder of 11 albinos whose body organs were sold for witchcraft.

Some witch doctors claim the body parts of albinos bring good luck in love, life and business.

Al Jazeera's Yvonne Ndge meets albinos who live in hiding in fear of being murdered because of their condition.

Every year, hundreds of people in the Central African Republic are convicted of witchcraft. Complementary remarks about witchcraft by a native Congolese initiate : "From witchcraft ... may be developed the remedy (kimbuki) that will do most to raise up our country."

"Witchcraft ... deserves respect ... it can embellish or redeem (ketula evo vuukisa)."

"The ancestors were equipped with the protective witchcraft of the clan (kindoki kiandundila kanda). ... They could also gather the power of animals into their hands ... whenever they needed. ... If we could make use of these kinds of witchcraft, our country would rapidly progress in knowledge of every kind."

"You witches (zindoki) too, bring your science into the light to be written down so that ... the benefits in it ... endow our race."

Among the Mende (of Sierra Leone), trial and conviction for witchcraft has a beneficial effect for those convicted.

"The witchfinder had warned the whole village to ensure the relative prosperity of the accused and sentenced ... old people. ... Six months later all of the people ... accused, were secure, well-fed and arguably happier than at any [previous] time; they had hardly to beckon and people would come with food or whatever was needful. ... Instead of such old and widowed people being left helpless or (as in Western society) institutionalized in old people’s homes, these were reintegrated into society and left secure in their old age ... . ... Old people are 'suitable' candidates for this kind of accusation in the sense that they are isolated and vulnerable, and they are 'suitable' candidates for 'social security' for precisely the same reasons."

Christian pastors in Nigeria have been involved in the torturing and killing of children accused of witchcraft. Over the past decade, over 1000 children have been murdered with some being set on fire.

Church pastors, in an effort to distinguish from the competition, establish their credentials by accusing children of witchcraft. When repeatedly asked to comment about the matter, the Church has refused to comment.

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