Witchcraft in Contemporary African Society Essay example

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The Enlightenment and the emerging of modern rationalism have paved the way to a worldview where the suspicion of witchcraft is not needed to explain the mysterious phenomena of this world. This is not the case in Africa. The belief in the existence of witches, evil persons who are able to harm others by using mystical powers, is part of the common cultural knowledge. Samuel Waje Kunhiyop states, “Almost all African societies believe in witchcraft in one form or another. Belief in witchcraft is the traditional way of explaining the ultimate cause of evil, misfortune or death.” The African worldview is holistic. In this perception, things do not just happen. What happens, either good or bad, is traced back to human action, including “ancestors who can intervene by blessing or cursing the living.” Witches, on the other hand, harm because they want to destroy life. Every misfortune or problem can be related to witchcraft, especially when natural explanation is not satisfactory.
Therefore, this paper is aimed to present in brief the general opinion about beliefs on witches and witchcraft which is synonymous among most African societies. Besides, it will consider some incidents related to witchcrafts as well as Christian response to witchcraft before conclusion
In most African societies, a witch is seen as the enemy of life and society. Laurenti Magesa affirmed “African Religion has a pragmatic approach to life: Everything that promotes the well-being of the community is good, and everything that destroys the community is evil.”
Magesa suggests not to use the abstract Christian concept of sin but to speak of ‘wrong-doing’ or ‘destruction of life’. Evil is always attached ...

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...ghty such as in the case of Job.


Bloomill, G. Witchcraft in Africa. Cape Town, npp, 1962.
Kirwen, Michael. The Missionary and The Diviner. New York: Orbits Books, 1987.
Kroeber, A. and C. Klockhohn, Culture: A Critical Review of Concept and Definition New York: Vintage Books, 1989.

Kunhiyop, Samuel Waje. African Christian Ethics. Kaduna: Baraka Press, 2004.
Magesa, Laurenti. African Religion: The Moral Tradition of Abundant Life. Nairobi: Pauline Pub., Africa, 1998.

Mbiti, John S. Introduction to African Religion. Nairobi: Heinemann Educational Books Ltd, 1978.
_____________. African Religions and Philosophy. New York: Anchor Books, 1970.
Shorter, Aylward. African Culture: Overview. Nairobi: Pauline Publications Africa, 1998.

Ray, Benjamin C. African Religions: Symbol, Ritual, and Community. New York: Pretence Hall, 1976.

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