African Witch Stories

Posted on July 30, 2009 by

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Some of my favorite news stories come out of sub-Saharan Africa. When looking at African newspapers (or news sites in our modern digital world) it isn’t uncommon to see a story on the development of environmentally friendly technology solutions like solar powered laptops and cooking stoves that run on recycled paper pellets sharing space with reports of monsters, witches, and hexes.

Recently I saw this report of a mysterious beast tormenting the goats of Namibians living in Onheleiwa and Oikango villages. While reminiscent of the chupacabras in their preferred choice of prey, whatever is attacking the Namibian kraals has a taste for more than blood. While some animals have been found with only the soft, internal organs eaten, in other cases all that remained of the goats were hooves, heads, and horns. While following up on this story at the Namibian New Era Newspaper website I decided to trying searching for the word “witch” just to see what I could find. I’ve recently been reading various 19th century travel diaries and articles on the spiritual beliefs and superstitions of south African tribal people, and was curious to see if tales of witchcraft would still be as common as belief in night-stalking monsters. The results were interesting, to say the least.  Here now, in chronological order, are four random headlines chosen from that search for your Thursday reading pleasure.

Villager Punished for Violating Grave — December 2008

Relates the story of a villager fined $400 (Namibian dollars) and six-head of cattle by the Masubia chief for employing the services of a Zambian witchdoctor for personal gain. According to wtinesses and the confessions of the accused, Jackson Timothy Siyeta, the events that unfolded near Caprivi, Namibia included a cow giving birth to a humanoid baby that Siyeta buried over the grave of his recently deceased son. While Siyeta initially claimed he was performing a ritual to protect his family, under questioning before the tribal khuta he admitted that the ritual was meant to multiply the size of his cattle herd.

Hundreds Kidnapped in Gambian Witch Hunts — March 2009

Gambians Reveal Horrors of “Witchcraft” Purge — March 2009

In these two related stories Gambian victims of government sanctioned witch hunts tell of being rounded up and fed hallucinogens before being raped and victimized by supporters of Gambian president Yahya Jemmah, who blames witchcraft for the death of a beloved aunt earlier this year. Despite cries by organizations such as Amnesty International condemning the actions, this case of superstition fueled torture on a grand scale somehow flew under the news radar in nations obsessing over Susan Boyle and Wall Street bail-outs.

Witchcraft Claim in Farm Eviciton — July 2009

Finally we have an example of Namibians reacting much in the way Americans would if more of us believed in witchcraft; by protesting and casting allegations of racism at a white landlord accused of using witchcraft to unfairly evict a tenant.

So, there you go; a nice cross section of witch stories coming out of one country over the past year. Do you have any others you’d like to share? What’s your favorite Fortean news story from Africa? Comment here, or visit the Anomaly Forums, and let us know.

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