I recently found myself chatting to an employee after having an open discussion about one of Sandra Bullock’s “Practical Magic” movie, which aired on SABC during the holiday season, in which she plays a witch, magician or herbalist, whatever you want to call her. We were talking about their use of magic or witchcraft and if ever anyone does practice such stuff. Lord help….I did not realize that we had opened Pandora’s box with such an open discussion in South Africa. Within the discussion we even went back to our observations on Botswana situation were a show based on the subject created some heat.
Early Christian missionaries in Africa used these terms to refer to individuals who are believed to intentionally use "incantations, ritual, and various substances" to mount psychic attacks against other people. The latter were believed to carefully direct destructive black magic in the direction of their victims. These individuals are called umthakathi among the Zulu and moloi among the Sotho. "Evil sorcerer" or "evil sorceress" would be a preferred term to use. Unfortunately, they are often referred to simply as "Witches."
This lady, from our open discussion on the issue, explains what seems to be a very interesting story and regular event amongst most black South Africans. She describes the fact that she had spent her holidays at her husband’s family in some rural area in Limpopo, where her mother-in-law is, as she puts it, more like a chairlady of the witches in the area and everybody knows it and no one can do nothing about it. As a result, she suffers great distress whenever she has to visit her husband’s home since this mother-in-law stays alone and it holds a lot of internal agony to be around her.
She claims that she has seen the granny naked with what looked like little people in fur and she always leaves food inside pots in her room whenever she leaves to go visit her friends. Of course I thought this was ridiculous and humored her as she did look stressed out and somewhat relieved that she could tell someone this news. She goes on to explain that when it becomes dark, they “witches” all have meetings – the witches of the area, and the mother-in-law always tells them never to go out after a certain hour. Fun times at the in laws….. I tell you!
After asking around from other people who believe in this sort of thing, I found out that a hell of a lot of people actually know about this on a personal level. Either things hold them down, they don’t fall pregnant even thou they are fertile, they have car accidents and the worst was how this witches will manifest a state of death and substitute the body with a log that looks like your deceased family member. Only for them to have held the real person is captivity in some zombie state in order such a person to become their slave.
They claim it is a combination of high tech, witchcraft biological attack which is fuelled by the use of incantations, ritual, and various substances which almost always includes the use of what they call “muti” by expects such as “traditional healers”. Now that got my attention, as from a television stand point this makes for a great series on air.
In February 2006, Botswana Television (BTV) screened a commissioned television drama series entitled “Thokolosi”. This drama series, which deals with witchcraft, is set in a Botswana village called Bobonong. The contents of the drama series in relation to the village attracted criticisms from the public, which culminated in a heated controversy. While a section of the Batswana audience cherished the pioneering indigenous effort of the filmmakers, a cross-section, particularly indigenes of Bobonong and their sympathizers,
frowned at the production, denouncing it as stereotypical, parochial, and ethnically biased.
Followers of many African Aboriginal religions use the terms witch and witchcraft to refer to individuals who are believed to have the potential to harm others through psychic means. They are believed to be unaware of their evil powers. Witchcraft is not something that they learn; they are perceived as having been born with magical abilities to harm others. Witch Doctors are spiritual specialists who attempt to counteract the powers of the witches.
The question I then had was, “if you are born with magical abilities to harm others” surely there must be lots more people born with “magical abilities to save”. The emphasis here is “born with”, which means that this individuals have a Harry Potter moment in their lives. On the aspect of witch doctors knowing the ways to counteract the powers….where is G-d and Faith in all this.
When I asked someone about this issue they said, “when African children are born, their families perform certain rituals and those rituals, although well intended, they leave those children vulnerable from attacks by such witches, when they are young or in their adulthood”. I was interested in this and kept probing for more and this person said “Those who seldom or never receive the pleasure of such attacks are the people who were or continue to keep away from such rituals or practices and they remain committed to G-d and their Faith to the creator as a true solution to their problems”. I then asked how does a 0-1year old enforce their will when their parents are convinced that they should undergo any of these rituals, let alone a 25-30year old?” He stated that “that is the root of the problem and thus we now have what we call a witchcraft breeding cycle – they have a market because we supply them with victims”.
The terms Witch and Witchcraft often refer to Wiccans and Wicca throughout the world. This is a modern religion that is based largely on symbols, beliefs, deities and festivals of the ancient Celtic society. This meaning has occasional use in Africa as well.
The Ministry of Safety and Security of South Africa's Northern Province created a Commission of Inquiry into Witchcraft, Violence and Ritual Killings. The Commission issued a report in 1996-MAY which showed that thousands of people had been accused of witchcraft, have been run out of town and have lost their property. More than 300 had been killed by vigilante mobs over the previous ten years. The victims were accused of "shape-shifting" themselves from human form into bats and birds, of converting people into zombies, and of causing death by calling down lightning or through the use of toxic medicines. These beliefs are quite similar to those which circulated during the Witch burning craze of the Middle Ages and Renaissance in Europe circa 1450 to 1792 CE. Those Witches didn't exist either. One possible source of confusion in the country is the Suppression of Witchcraft Act (1957) which does not differentiate between most forms of traditional African healing and evil sorcery (black magic); it banned both practices.
This however leaves me with the question, if these witches are born gifted, wouldn’t they adapt to the changing society? Well, this question was answered by yet another research subject who told me that in recent years it seems the witches have gone all modern and younger people are joining the fold to become the next generation of witches, often taking on from their family members who are part of the society. This individual also explains that lately most witches blend in very well with society, church, and lifestyle as certain cultures and traditional beliefs make it very easy for them to function undetected in today’s world. The fact that people are always looking for something to make them more attractive to men or women, to earn more money, to succeed, be rich etc, makes it very easy for them acquire new members from people who would traditionally not consider the craft as part of their beliefs.
I swear the things I do for this blog…anyway moving on!
Another guy from our discussion explained that he had a problem because every day at 05h00a.m he would wake up suddenly, like clock work, tired and his body aching and his feet and hands swollen. He could not work or do anything the entire day. His family thought that he had been bewitched and as a result of constant tiredness, his life was in a mess. Until he went to a church which only uses the power of prayer and he was told that he is being used as a night slave to work in the fields….. imagine that! The next time you see that sunflower farm, you might have just contributed to its beautiful scenery. The joys of Africa! Anyway, they managed to help him and ever since he has not turned her back and he a strong believer in a high power.
On 2002-JUL-29, five women were hacked to death because they were believed to have been practicing "witchcraft." The murders took place in the tea belt area of Jalpaiguri state of India. Ten laborers in the Kilkote tea estate were arrested. In the previous decade, 79 women had been murdered in this area on suspicion of witchcraft.
Botlokwa, South Africa -- The boy was found at dawn, kneeling outside a house on his road, head down and gnarled fists next to his ears. A crowd gathered. The boy rose up. He said his grandmother had sent him to the house to bring back the people inside as dead bodies. That night, a mob of youths burned down the homestead of the grandmother, Johanna Ramalepa, accusing her of being a witch. She escaped -- one of the lucky ones in this remote region of South Africa not to die in the wake of rampant accusations of sorcery.
A women tells me that her husband was suffering from a unique situation were he would have a sexual climax whilst they are sleep without any sexual intercourse between the two of them. I am actually surprised at the fact that there are so many stories on this subject. Anyway, they eventual sort help and it was revealed that he was in fact sleeping with one of those “Thokolosi” things. I had so many questions but the person telling me this was so shaken by having to relive this event that I let her be. Imagine your husband having sex with a “thing” with you in the same bed and you are only woken up by him climaxing all alone. “Honey, what going on…Eish baby I don’t know….. Look you have dumped all over my bedding. Eish!”
It seems this is a stronger reality for most than some might or would like to believe. However, I find it interesting that people will dismiss these cases very fast and consider it hogwash, but if you were to do the same about their faith, you will suffer dearly. I don’t think everyone should believe in this, but just as we know that the sun sets and with that, it brings night. We should also know that there might be thing we would need to investigate if they are fact or just an over active imagine nation which manifests things that people fear with all their soul. We need to know that there are things and people who may very harm you or your children. There is a reason the true church heals demons and possession, amongst other things.
Witchcraft, do you believe? Or Do you think its a bunch of bull?
If you believe let hear your story, since almost everyone has some creepy tale. I find this subject so interesting, in that you have cases without very little reports of convention or cure towards victims. If the lack of positive outcomes is true, what does it say about Africa and South Africa. On Supernatural, the TV series produced for The CW Network and airing on Mnet and SABC3 in South Africa, they had Dean and Sam Winchester investigate a dream plant which makes people go off into a deep dream state in which all sorts of hell can break loose. Did you know that that plant in found in East Cape and it is used mostly by Xhosa witch doctors and sangomas. This plant is so powerful that it can send you into a permanent coma but you continue to sort of live in that dream work and you would subsequently die from any injuries you sustain whilst in dreamland.
If you found out by mistake that your friend, boss, husband, or wife was a witch, what would you do? A high ranking one at that.
By The TV Observer
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