Anaylzing the Ethnography, Witchcraft, Violence, and Democracy in South Africa written by Adam Ashforth

Anaylzing the Ethnography, Witchcraft, Violence, and Democracy in South Africa written by Adam Ashforth

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The practices of witchcraft have been around for many centuries. It was said that men in early times used the idea of magic to pay respects to the gods that ruled and brought forth an easier life. Magic was used mostly by shamans, medicine people, and witches to call the powers of the gods to help grow crops and bring water. Magic was used more often when times were hard and grew from the craziness of bad weather and little food supplies. These people who performed witchcraft would do rituals and cast spells to help call the upon the gods. Over time the use of witches and witchcraft turned sour and people were seeing less and less of them. “Witches, who were primarily women, were originally seen as wise healers whom could both nurture and destroy; this belief in their power, however, eventually led to fear, and this often forced witches to live as outcasts” (Ashforth, 2005).
Because witchcraft existed for so many years, it was established as a traditional ritual in many different countries across the world. In South Africa, one who performs the rituals of witchcraft was known as a witch doctor, and they were described as healers who diagnose and cure illnesses. To better explain the implications of witchcraft in South Africa, I will analyze the ethnography, Witchcraft, Violence, and Democracy in South Africa written by Adam Ashforth. Ashforth first visited Soweto in South Africa in 1990 and has been fascinated with the culture and politics that grew there. Ashforth intended to study the transition to a democracy but during his research he stumbled upon a much greater issue, the presence of witches.
Ashforth then switched the focus of his research to witchcraft and the dangers or spiritual insecurity related to witchcr...


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Witchcraft is something that will remain a major aspect in many cultures across the world. Many cultures believe in many different traditions and behaviors that they are accustomed to and will never be able to let go. Witchcraft is Soweto has had a great impact on the residents and their daily lives. The challenges of spiritual insecurities and the post-apartheid society have made it very difficult to modernize the town, in which they are desperate to do. The ethnography was very detailed and covered a wide range of issues that arose in Soweto. I think Ashforth does a pretty good job examining the issues, and spreading the awareness of the seriousness of witchcraft. To others, it may seem or appear like an easy solution to resolve the issue of witches. It just shows how different we are from the many cultures out there, even though we are all still human.

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