African writers generally ignore the subject of supernatural beliefs, or consign treatment of them to popular movies. Yet in a well-reasoned commentary published in The East African on Nov. 10, Joachim Buwembo makes the case that serious people should start to â€œthe growth of witchcraftâ€ in Africa seriously.
Buwembo is provoked to address the trend, he says, because of two recent cases in Uganda where wealthy businessmen buried the heads of murdered children in the foundations of buildings they were constructing in order to insure their success, Buwembo argues that murderous rituals demand a serious response.
â€œThe restoration of cultural institutions has its downside,â€ he notes, â€œas many of the criminal witchdoctors hide under the guise of traditional healers to carry out their evil acts.â€
Buwembo insists that African governments remain too reluctant to crack down on the trend â€“ and that they need help from outsider to tackle the problem. â€œBelief in witchcraft is changing work ethics, business and social relations,â€ he writes. â€œA humanitarian organization should quickly commission a study to and look for ways of rescuing our people from superstition.â€
On the same theme, Britainâ€™s Daily Telegraph recently published a moving article on the plight of children in Nigeria who are branded as â€œwitches.â€ The paper reports: â€œThe devil’s children are â€˜identifiedâ€™ by powerful religious leaders at extremist churches where Christianity and traditional beliefs have combined to produce a deep-rooted belief in, and fear of, witchcraft. The priests spread the message that child-witches bring destruction, disease and death to their families. And they say that, once possessed, children can cast spells and contaminate others.â€
A recent article in the Cameroon Post sheds light on another aspect of the revived interest in the supernatural: the role of mainstream churches.